Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Hope and Wire

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  • Ianmac,

    Against the tide but I think it was pretty good. The lasting image of chaos and of this bringing out the best and the worst in people and of ordinary people making some sort of sense resonates with me. The subject was so huge and had the writers narrowed the scope to focus on just a few characters would have distracted from the diversity and the size of the calamity. The bad people carried on taking advantage of the lapse of security and family dynamics still disrupted because or in spite of the earthquake, and authorities did their best to establish order.
    In short the program was unsettling but I will watch the other two episodes whilst I suppose those who are so critical will be watching something else.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    You need to place it within the work of Gaylene (such as Home By Christmas) and other film-makers who deliberately re-work conventions of veracity, memory and authentication.

    I get the context there, Geoff. I just don't think it does so in a particularly satisfying manner.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Alfie,

    Auckland drama

    Wellington drama. See above.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Just thinking, in reply to Lilith __,

    Absolutely agreed, and as I'm over 120kg, being a weightless rage doll was a new and novel experience.
    We've stopped peeing in the garden now, but still please don't let the kiddies play in puddles or floods in Christchurch.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Auckland drama

    Wellington drama. See above.

    This Auckland thing is taking hold a bit on social media too. In the sense that a big chunk of the viewing audience is in Auckland, yeah, I suppose. But the funding agency and the creators are from Wellington.

    Otoh, I don't think postcodes are the real issue. It's not unthinkable that someone who didn't live through the earthquakes could help tell the stories.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Is the particular offence here that the pictures were used in a dramatic context?

    Briefly, yes. It's triggering; hugely. Goes against all best practice for psychosocial disaster recovery, and as you can tell, it's personal.

    I know if I watch the whole series there will be people I know in the quake footage in states from death to shock: I don't want to see that.

    Would you splice, for example, a Roastbusters rape with a dramatic scene in Outrageous Fortune? (Not trying for offence: it's the only parallel I can think of quickly).

    Greg was involved with When A City Falls, but that is not colouring my response. WACF was edited hugely. When Greg was working on the development -- reframing the story after Feb 22 changed everything -- he had on the PC rough footage. (That was before editing because of the tight timeframe.) He told me not to watch it. I thought, I'm a hard old journo, seen a lot, so I watched. It was so awful that I vomited. The few minutes would have added to the story, but its graphic content made it unuseable from a humane point of view.

    It looks like that consideration was not adequately addressed in the way Hope + Wire was structured.

    And do you think any dramatic treatment could have been right for you? Perhaps a smaller narrative that didn’t claim to tell everyone's story?

    I think that the more dramas, and documentaries, and comedies, and novels, and paintings, and other artworks the better. Some will appeal to me; other will not. This is our generation's life-changing event: when our innocence was lost. --- I love Jane Zusters' photographs "Unruly Memoirs: Nature Bites Back" (in Auckland recently).---

    Whatever, create sensitively. Don't come from outside, claim the monopoly on our stories, hoover up millions in public funding, bring all the main players in from outside when many local actors have no work and take the post-filming work out of town.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But the funding agency and the creators are from Wellington.

    And the culture of both are quite different than the Auckland equivalent. Cultural 'capital', etc. Not that I'm saying Aucklanders would have done any better at conveying the experience, but let's call a spade a spade.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    I think that the more dramas, and documentaries, and comedies, and novels, and paintings, and other artworks the better.

    Yes, I'd rather they funded ten narrower stories than one broad one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I only watched the first episode, and not the second.

    Would that make a difference to what I'm thinking about the series?

    Is it better as six episodes or three doubles?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Gaylene Preston explains her thinking in a great Pantograph Punch story by Gavin Bertram.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    What you said! Well put all of it.

    This thread is giving me new viewpoints, for which I am very grateful. It' easy to get tangled in emotion and the layers it all brings up.

    Alice: I feel for you. Declare another birthday for a bit: celebrate then, and acknowledge yours in a quiet way in Feb 22. The mass sentiment will die down: this year I was quietly curmudgeonly about the simple act of tossing flowers in the river having been organised and sanitised, squeezing the magic out of it.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Paul Swadel,

    I Executive Produced 'WHEN A CITY FALLS' by Gerard Smyth. I saw HOPE & WIRE last night, and thought it was pretty crappy.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2014 • 2 posts Report

  • Diane Blomfield,

    Thinking about all the comments above - this interview on Radionz with Lara Strongman is worth listening to

    Congrats to Gaylene for taking on a project that was always going to polarise people.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2014 • 3 posts Report

  • Emma Hart, in reply to ,

    That sort of clears that up. But wow, I did not realize you had that world view.

    Think of the greatest trauma you have experienced. Think of people who have experienced similar things, and people who haven’t. The common experience binds us together in a way, and sets us apart from people who haven’t, no matter how good their intentions or how strong their empathy and their attempts to understand. It’s not something we chose, or something we cling to, it’s just the way things are.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Swadel,

    thought it was pretty crappy

    please do elaborate

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Just thinking,

    Sorry to hear that Alice. I find flowers in the Road Cones a beautiful thing (except if they're from my garden). Look after yourself out there.

    See, that is why it will hit so many nerves, just like the road cones pretending to look pretty to some and being beautiful to others. I suspect anyone in ChCh who watches the program will take away something bad about it because it's either wrong from their eyes or wrong from their experience or wrong because the factual footage is disrespected amongst the acting or plain completely wrong because it is from Wellington. Personally I didn't find it a good watch but I found it a must as I wanted to see if it reflected that which I'd read from peeps here or from my family there. Only some parts did that for me and the parts that didn't, seemed to be the cliche stuff. I would have followed Len and Joycie around. The crims being crims seemed relevant and the elderly woman in her flat seemed what was probable .
    To remember what was being reported up here at the time, with the word "munted "
    being used everywhere from TV to radio to Newspapers to social Media and right here as nominations for WOTY, was to be expected to be thrown in also. So I watched it, didn't like it, made me uncomfortable and as a critic, I found wanting parts ,but it wasn't bad. I had empathy for everyone down there except the Authority and I hope that is what we see in the next one. It may have been too early to air? Now that it is, it better show the bureaucratic bullshit as well. Like Lilith too, I wanted the experience of the !000's of tremors ,that could have helped impact the audience in this drama.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Creon Upton,

    I haven't seen it, and I won't, so I'm arguably not entitled to judge, but I will.

    I'm unsurprised by the tenor of the comments appearing above. It sounds positively dreadful, and in a dreadfully predictable way.

    A focus on discrete personal narratives is entirely wrong, for a start. Those events were (probably all such catastrophic events are) characterised by a dissolution of the discrete. Borderlines were reduced to dust and rubble in ways unimaginable and surreal. Linearity, tightness of narrative, concepts, notions, representations -- these were precisely the (fictional) experiences that could not be dignified by an encounter with collapse.

    Notice how Treme picked up its story months after the flood -- and its discrete, personal narratives grew tentatively, piecing themselves together, slowly, in a coherent marriage between form and content. Not some blustering hurricane of a writer telling the world how it was.

    I'll take David Simon over Preston any day, and a postcard from New Orleans to Washington DC was for me a more than articulate telling of what needed to be told about Christchurch. Watch that, Auckland.

    Post-earthquake, there was an abundance of creativity in Christchurch. What it bores me to call art was produced in small, quiet ways, for all the right reasons, by all kinds of folks. It was sense-making, exploratory. It was the rediscovery of voice. It was real.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 68 posts Report

  • andrew gunn,

    There is a well-worn mantra here in Christchurch that “there’s a lot of people much worse off than us”, which I feel particularly keenly, so I always make a point of stating from the outset that I can only speak for myself.

    Overall I liked “Hope and Wire”. I wasn’t troubled by the acting, and I thought some of it was very good. Same for the writing. And I certainly wasn’t troubled by the budget.

    But there is something that keeps rolling around in my mind – this line from one of the characters:

    "If you’d asked me before all the shaking started I would have said I was just a normal person, from a normal Christchurch family, no dramas, no big issues, no hidden cracks"

    I think that a conscious decision was made that for several of the characters, the earthquakes would serve as a catalyst that would bring to a head already-existing (and undeniably important) issues: infidelity, domestic violence, racism, teenage peer pressure and the like. There’s a well-founded dramatic rationale for this: ideally a character’s story arc is not just about some external challenge; as well they are broken inside, and in the course of the drama undergo some personal transformation – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

    Here’s the argument though: we all have our existing issues – some trivial, some overwhelming. But for an awful lot of people in Canterbury, the quakes (and their aftermath) WERE the issue.

    Split-second decisions make in the height of crisis. Bravery. Not-so-bravery (I still wonder, had I been in the CBD, how I would have acted). The sense of camaraderie in the weeks after, when Christchurch drivers were observed being polite to each other – and dread too as the aftershocks rolled in. The grim frustration and anger that built up as people continued to live in appalling conditions. The Kafkaesque dicking-around by EQC and insurance companies.

    It seems to me that there is enough drama to be found simply in these events. And, to give it credit, “Hope and Wire” does portray many aspects of them. And will no doubt continue to do so. But it also portrays a lot of, shall we say, “generic” issues too.

    I’m still thinking through whether that’s a problem. I know, though, that I want to avoid falling into the “I don’t like it because I would have done it differently” trap. I appreciate the effort that’s gone into “Hope and Wire”, I’m glad it was made and I really hope it serves the purpose Gaylene Preston intends for it.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 45 posts Report

  • Euan Mason,

    Footage of the first earthquake was too mild. It only lasted for about 7 seconds on film, and that sent shivers up my spine, but the real one lasted over 40 seconds and seemed like an age. It was also too quiet on film. The real one was a hell of a lot louder.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report

  • Nic Farra,

    Although the quakes were the death-knell for an already terminal acting career, I can never shake the feeling that I’m only ever one job away from a return to earning a crust. So even though I’m deeply absorbed in new activities that have become radically life altering, in the ill-wind sense, I wanted at least a look-in at the auditions. No such luck. On the evidence of last night there was only ever going to be day rates for Christchurch actors anyway, and we’re used to the South being a scenic backdrop for overseas and Auckland based actors in the leads. I did half a day as an unpaid extra, and as an experienced actor with thirty years in the biz, I knew how to work the unit, so I at least got fed and watered for my time.

    A lot of local professional film crew were passed over for work, and I think that was extremely poor, especially when Ms Preston is well aware of the positive economic effect for local film when this is observed: Perfect Strangers is the example I’m thinking of. So for all practical purposes, Hope and Wire was like an overseas production using Christchurch as a location, only with much less local involvement than that. We produce great entertainment in New Zealand. I saw the best comedy I’ve ever seen last weekend, made by people who are mavericks in this business that is moribund in the mediocre: have a guess.

    Hope and Wire may be many things, but a show with subtext, real characters, a sense that there is something in jeopardy, or much verisimilitude it is not. It’s a great job of editing and filming, however there is little heart, and obviously from the paucity of local input, there is much less emotional investment. I found it frustrating to watch perfectly competent actors emoting instead of engaging with the inner lives of actual characters. I put that down to a dull script, lack of rehearsal and direction that looks like the actors didn’t know from one shot to the next what it was they are meant to be conveying. It may have been intended as a postcard to Auckland, but it reads more like a txt frm a 1990s Nokia.

    New Zealand • Since Jul 2014 • 3 posts Report

  • Nic Farra, in reply to andrew gunn,

    There speaks a writer, that writerly concern for the core of the story just seems to be missing from Hope and Wire . What on earth is it all about?

    New Zealand • Since Jul 2014 • 3 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andrew gunn,

    Here’s the argument though: we all have our existing issues – some trivial, some overwhelming. But for an awful lot of people in Canterbury, the quakes (and their aftermath) WERE the issue.

    I was circling around that point, but you've just made it. Drama relies on personal crises, but in this case there was already plenty of crisis to go around.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Euan Mason,

    Some of the emotions and attitudes portrayed feel real, but maybe it was an impossible task to render the feeling of earthquake after earthquake after earthquake after earthquake. I keep watching thinking, where are the aftershocks?

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to andrew gunn,

    there is enough drama to be found simply in these events.

    A fair bit of the set-up felt contrived. If the stories play out predictably, it'll be a shame. I'm hoping there'll be some twisting of stereotypes. (FWIW I've met mean-spirited, misanthropic socialists - and generous, philanthropic lawyers :))

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Marian Hobbs,

    This is a strange post from me...but as well as thanking Russell for the original post, I want to thank all who have contributed, especially those from Christchurch.

    I was in England for both of the major earthquakes ( and as I say that, I now have a little more understanding of the continual quaking...because it is more than the word 'aftershocks' conveys). And although I have a sister and many former teaching colleagues in Christchurch, I have not been able to understand the effect.

    So I looked forward to watching this last night, especially since I have some respect for Gaylene Preston's previous work.

    I read the initial reaction on social media and was puzzled, but the exchange on here has really helped me get much closer to the issues.

    So thank you all...you have added much to my knowledge and hopefully, to my insight.

    Dunedin, New zealand • Since Jan 2009 • 4 posts Report

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