Press Kit - Hope and Wire

Inspired by true events, first-hand accounts and employing actual newsreel
footage, this drama follows the aftermath of the Earthquakes that befell New
Zealand’s Christchurch between 2010 and 2011, telling a universal story of
family, hope and triumph against the odds.
It’s the aftershocks that run the deepest, bringing to the surface the things that
truly matter, the lies we tell ourselves, the compassion of the many and the
selfishness of the few. Covering a cross-section of modern families, from the
homeless pulling together to create a community, to the middle-class
suburbanites whose world has been shaken to its foundations, Hope & Wire
shows us at our most desperate and our most hopeful. Echoing true events
with a candid and unflinching eye, see what emerges from the rubble.
Written and Directed by: Gaylene Preston
Produced by: Chris Hampson & Gaylene Preston
6 x 1 hour series
Gaylene Preston Productions
ABOUT THE SHOW - series description and synopsis
HOPE & WIRE is a gripping, emotional, character-based drama set in
Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes of 2010-2011. Six one-hour
episodes follow characters who continue to live amid the ruins, despite
frequent disturbing aftershocks. Reflecting their fractured experiences, HOPE
& WIRE circles around overlapping worlds and viewpoints. Fate and destiny
collide in unpredictable ways as they all grapple with the “new normal”.
Inspired by true stories, HOPE & WIRE is named for the song by Adam
McGrath of much-loved Lyttelton band The Eastern, who also feature in the
series. This sometimes funny, often heart-wrenching drama is the brainchild
of filmmaker Gaylene Preston (Home By Christmas). Preston wrote the scripts
with Dave Armstrong (Billy) and directed the series. She produced it with
Chris Hampson (White Lies), and associate producer Sue Rogers (Home By
Christmas). The series is supported by the NZ On Air Platinum Fund and
aired on TV3.
HOPE & WIRE stars an impressive cast, headed by Bernard Hill, best known
to younger viewers as King Theoden in Lord of the Rings, and to those with
long memories as Yosser Hughes in Boys From the Blackstuff. Rachel House
(White Lies), Jarod Rawiri (Fantail), Miriama McDowell (This Is Not My Life),
Luanne Gordon (Insider’s Guide to Happiness), Stephen Lovatt (Harry, Top of
the Lake), Joel Tobeck (Seige, Sons of Anarchy), Logie award-winner Chelsie
Preston Crayford (Underbelly: Razor), Anton Tennet (Romeo and Juliet: A
Love Story) and Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake) form the core of the large
ensemble cast.
As a result of open auditions held in Christchurch, Preston and her team
discovered two exciting new young actors: Christchurch schoolgirl Lucy
Wyma plays Hayley, Ginny and Jonty’s wayward daughter, and David
Sutherland plays Tim, her head-injured brother.
Several Christchurch actors contributed colourful performances including
Eilish Moran, who plays Deidre, Monee’s estranged mother, and many firsttime performers joined the cast, including Simo Abbari, a Christchurch falafel
bar owner who plays Youssef, a Christchurch falafel bar owner.
Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) and Dame Kate Harcourt (Apron Strings) play
cameo roles as Emma, Jonty’s devoted legal assistant and Dorothy, his 90year-old aunt – who, like many elderly people, coped well during the
emergencies but had difficulty once the quakes settled.
Joycie (Rachel House) and Len (Bernard Hill), live in a downstairs flat in a
large mouldering wooden house just inside the Red Zone owned by local
small-time property developer Greggo (Joel Tobeck). When their kitchen is
munted (wrecked) and their telly falls over, Joycie and Len, self-confessed
couch potatoes, move into the backyard where they begin to feed stray
animals left abandoned by their ‘quake-runner’ owners. This generosity also
extends to people. Among them Dwayne (Anton Tennet), a homeless boy,
and Monee (Chelsie Preston Crayford), a feral girl with her dog on the run
from her abusive boyfriend King (Kip Chapman). When their landlord Greggo
tries to use new emergency powers to evict them, Len brings his somewhat
rusty union-organiser skills to the fore, raises a Canterbury rugby jersey as a
flag, and declares the “Free State Of Muntville”.
A world away, amid the white middle-class homes of Merivale, Ginny (Luanne
Gordon), a housewife and mother, discovers that none of her family were
where they said they would be on that dreadful day of the devastating
February 22 earthquake. Her husband Jonty (Stephen Lovatt), holds secrets
of his own that force Ginny to become the family’s breadwinner, causing her
to realise strengths she never knew she had.
Ryan (Jarod Rawiri), a construction worker, is living in his ute parked outside
his dream home in Atlantis in the eastern suburbs since his wife Donna
(Miriama McDowell), fled with their two little girls after falling into deep
liquefaction at their back door in the wake of the 7.1 jolt that started it all in
September 2010. As Donna thrives in Auckland, too terrified to return, Ryan
becomes the unofficial caretaker of Sunset Close as all their neighbours
gradually move out. Self-medicating, lonely, and at risk from the criminal
elements roaming through the residential red zone, Ryan tries to fix what can’t
be fixed and loses what he loves the most.
As the city rises again, resilience, tolerance and human kindness are pitted
against greed and duplicity. Fate will always play a strong hand when in less
than a minute everyone’s lives are changed forever.
The creator of HOPE & WIRE, Gaylene Preston says “The lethal earthquake
of 2011 exposed stories of human resilience and courage in the face of
dreadful loss. HOPE & WIRE is set amid the ruins, illuminating common
experiences of living in the quake zone during the aftermath, surviving
aftershocks, some of which shook the city to bits. I am grateful to the people
of Christchurch who contributed in so many ways. HOPE & WIRE pays tribute
to everyone near and far whose lives will never be the same.”
EDISODES – short summary
Episode 1
When Len and Joycie are jolted off their couch and into their backyard by a
massive earthquake, they find their young neighbours unexpectedly helpful.
But unsavoury elements are on the prowl and continuing aftershocks are
shredding everyone’s nerves to breaking point.
Episode 2
Tuesday February 22, 2011 dawns peacefully enough but little does Ginny
know that at 12.51pm a lethal earthquake will reveal fractures in her family
that she cannot ignore. Joycie fears for Len in Lyttelton, but to Monee the
earthquake means freedom.
Episode 3
In the post-earthquake ‘new normal’, Ryan is living in his ute outside his
liquefied dream home. Joycie shines as camp mother to inner-city waifs and
strays, while Jonty becomes ever more desperate to get to his office through
the closed red zone cordon.
Episode 4
Quake runner Donna is frustrated when Ryan visits the family in Auckland and
can’t get the shaky city out of his mind. Ginny confronts Jonty over his guilty
secrets. Monee, on the run and squatting in the deserted suburb Atlantis,
puts Ryan in danger.
Episode 5
Len and Joycie break the abuse cycle that has Monee in its grip, while dealing
with the consequences of a TV interview in which Len has said too much.
Dwayne shows he’s not so hopeless after all and Ryan realises the hard truth
about his mate Greggo.
Episode 6
Joycie’s honesty costs her her job caring for Aunt Dorothy and Len tries to
make amends by organising a party with The Eastern playing. Ginny does a
vital deal with Monee and makes a bid for her own freedom, while Ryan’s
isolation takes him to the brink.
Created by Gaylene Preston
Production Company: Gaylene Preston Productions
Funded by: NZ On Air Platinum Fund
Broadcaster: TV3
Director: Gaylene Preston
Screenplay: Gaylene Preston, Dave Armstrong
Producers: Chris Hampson, Gaylene Preston
Network Executive: Rachel Jean
Associate Producer: Sue Rogers
Director of Photography: Thomas Burstyn
Editor: Paul Sutorius
Production Designer: John Harding
Original Score: Emile de la Rey
Casting Director: Christina Asher
Costume: Lesley Burkes-Harding
2nd unit director/DOP: Alun Bollinger
Bernard Hill
Rachel House
Jarod Rawiri
Miriama McDowell
Luanne Gordon
Stephen Lovatt
Joel Tobeck
Chelsie Preston Crayford
Anton Tennet
Kip Chapman
Lucy Wyma
David Sutherland
Featuring music by The Eastern Family
Duration: series of 6 x one-hour episodes
Gaylene Preston - director, writer (with Dave Armstrong), producer (with
Chris Hampson).
Gaylene Preston is a writer, producer, director. Her work reveals her
commitment to telling New Zealand stories and includes feature films - Home
by Christmas, Perfect Strangers, War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us,
Ruby and Rata and television series Bread and Roses, and Earthquake, a
documentary for TV3 on the devastating 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquakes. The
New Zealand Arts Foundation made her the first Filmmaker Laureate in 2001
and she is also a member of the NZ Order of Merit. She was born in
Greymouth and spent time in Christchurch throughout her childhood. She
lived there while attending Ilam Art School, before moving to England, where
her interest in filmmaking arose from her work as an art therapist. Her films
have screened in most leading film festivals including NZ, Venice, Sundance,
Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne and have won awards in Italy, Canada, Australia,
Britain, USA, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.
Chris Hampson – producer
Chris Hampson has worked in the film and television industry for more than
30 years, and as a producer since the mid-1980s. He has produced numerous
film and television projects, written for television, directed for theatre and
acted on both stage and screen. Before turning to the screen, he started his
career as a publishing editor, and after scripting stints in radio, television and
at the New Zealand Film Commission, he produced the feature film Illustrious
Energy. He is currently a member of the Board of the New Zealand Film
He was executive producer of television series Shortland Street for its first
three years, before developing and executive producing the NZFC’s lowbudget feature scheme, ScreenVisioNZ. He later formed the production
company ScreenWorks, launching with law drama Street Legal, whose fourseason run proved highly successful. He continues to produce and develop
film and television projects. He recently produced the acclaimed feature film
White Lies, which was selected for the 2013 Toronto International Film
Sue Rogers – associate producer
Sue Rogers worked closely with her life partner Jim Booth, producer of Peter
Jackson’s Meet The Feebles, Braindead and Heavenly Creatures, and she
maintained the progress of his Midnight Films production slate following his
death in 1994, producing Forgotten Silver, the mockumentary directed by
Peter Jackson and Costa Botes. She also produced Heaven, from the novel
by Chad Taylor and directed by Scott Reynolds, which won the Audience First
Prize for Best International Feature at the Toronto Film Festival in 1997. She
produced When Strangers Appear (aka Shearer’s Breakfast) also directed by
Scott Reynolds; and Tongan Ninja, the debut feature by Jason Stutter, as well
as his second feature Predicament. She was co-producer on Gaylene
Preston’s Home by Christmas.
Dave Armstrong – writer (with Gaylene Preston)
Dave Armstrong’s recent television work includes TV one dramas Billy and
Spies and Lies. He has also written for drama series Cover Story and The
Strip. His television comedies are well-known: Seven Periods with Mr
Gormsby and Spin Doctors, for which he won an Academy of Film and
Television Award for best comedy script alongside with Roger Hall and James
Griffin. He wrote episodes for the animated cult hit Bro Town (was also script
editor), country comedy Willy Nilly and the ensemble Skitz which gave birth to
The Semisis, written by Armstrong.
His hit play, Niu Sila, co-written with Oscar Kightley, won a Chapman Tripp
Award for Best New Play and received the Arts Foundation Award for
Patronage in 2006. After it was performed in the Auckland International Arts
Festival, Niu Sila was performed at the 2007 Pasifika Styles Festival in
Cambridge England. The Tutor won best new NZ Play at the 2005 Chapman
Tripp Theatre Awards.
Thomas Burstyn – Director of photography
Canadian Kiwi Thomas Burstyn CSC, FRSA is an Emmy-nominated
filmmaker with 30 years experience as a cinematographer. He trained at the
National Film board of Canada as a documentary maker before moving into
feature films. He directed the multi-award winning This Way of Life; One Man,
One Cow, One Planet and Flash William among others. He was
cinematographer on New Zealand features The Insatiable Moon, The Lost
Tribe and Mr Wrong, which was directed by Gaylene Preston. He also worked
with Preston on the drama segments of TV3’s documentary Strongman: The
Tragedy. His recent work includes Universal Cable’s 11-episode sci fi series
Defiance, shot in Toronto.
He was nominated for an Emmy Award for cinematography for The 4400 in
2005, won a Genie Award in Canada in 2002 for Magic in the Water and a
CableAce Award for The Hitchhiker: True Believer.
John Harding – production designer
John Harding has a versatile and varied career as film production designer,
art director, character and costume designer, as well as theatre and event
designer, and design tutor. He was a costume designer on James Cameron’s
epic Avatar. He worked for Weta Workshop for five years on the Lord of the
Rings trilogy, in many design, construction and art director roles. He also
designed and developed miniature sets, native costumes and weapons for
Weta Workshop for Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
His most recent film as production designer is Gaylene Preston’s Home By
Christmas. Before that he did Jason Stutter’s Predicament. His work includes
TVOne telemovies Rage, Tangiwai and Until Proven Innocent, as well as The
Lost Children, a 13-episode television series set in 1860s New Zealand and
the award-winning short film Fog. He won the New Zealand Film Awards best
design award for his work in the short film The King Boys. His work as art
director includes US telemovie Fatal Contact: Bird Flu In America, New
Zealand television series Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson), and Larry
Parr’s feature film Fracture.
Lesley Burkes-Harding – costume designer
Lesley Burkes-Harding is an award-winning period costume specialist who
won New Zealand Film Awards best costume design for her work on Her
Majesty, a coming of age drama set in 1953, and was a finalist for Qantas
Film & TV Awards best costume design for Out of the Blue. She designed
costumes for The Locals, Jubilee and Predicament. Her most recent feature
film is Gaylene Preston’s Home By Christmas.
She has designed costumes for many US television features and series filmed
in New Zealand, including Spartacus Blood and Sand, Ike – Countdown to DDay, Lucille Ball Life Story and Murder in Greenwich. She was a Qantas Film
& TV awards finalist for her work on NZ television drama Until Proven
Innocent. She was the NZ assistant costume designer for James Cameron’s
epic Avatar and worked as a construction specialist for Weta SPFX on The
Lord of the Rings trilogy. She was vfx costume designer for the Peter
Jackson/Steven Spielberg collaboration Adventures of Tin Tin.
Paul Sutorius – supervising editor
Paul Sutorius has a long career spanning feature films, television drama,
documentaries, comedy and current affairs. His feature films include four
directed by Gaylene Preston – Home By Christmas, Ruby and Rata, Bread &
Roses and War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us – as well as The
Irrefutable Truth About Demons (director Glenn Standring), Chunuk Bair
(Dale Bradley) and Kingi’s Story, KingPin and Mark II (Mike Walker).
He won best film editing at the NZ Film & TV awards for Ruby and Rata and
best documentary editing for Getting to Our Place (which was produced and
co-directed by Gaylene Preston with Anna Cottrell), and the same award in
2006 for the documentary Aspiring. His television drama editing dates back to
the classic Pukemanu and includes The Longest Winter, The Governor,
Mortimer’s Patch and more recently Insider’s Guide to Happiness, Until
Proven Innocent and Tangiwai. His most recent feature is White Lies.
Alun Bollinger – 2nd Unit director/cinematographer
Alun Bollinger’s major credits as cinematographer include Goodbye Pork Pie,
Vigil, Heavenly Creatures, Forgotten Silver, The Frighteners, Matariki, White
Lies, Love Birds and River Queen which he also partly field directed. He shot
War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us, Bread and Roses, Perfect Strangers
Home By Christmas and several documentaries (Learning Fast, Titless
Wonders, Hone Tuwhare and Lovely Rita) with director Gaylene Preston.
He has won numerous New Zealand awards for his work and was nominated
for an AFI award for his work on the Australian feature The Oyster Farmer. In
2005 he was awarded a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate for
outstanding lifetime artistry in cinematography and was appointed a Member
of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He was recently the subject of a
documentary Barefoot Cinema: The Art and Life of Cinematographer Alun
Bollinger by Gerard Smythe.
Why did you want to make something about Christchurch?
We moved from Greymouth to Hawkes Bay when I was ten. In the following
year there was a big cluster of earthquakes and a tsunami warning that closed
the school. I was traumatised. Later, when I was an art student in
Christchurch, I worked holidays in a resthome in Napier and it was full of old
people who were survivors of the 1931 lethal quake. That got me interested in
earthquake stories, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that I started videotaping oral
histories from 1931. These eventually became an installation for the Hawkes
Bay Art Gallery Trust and contributed to a documentary (Earthquake) for TV3
for the 75th anniversary.
In September 2010, I had friends and family in Christchurch, so I was paying
attention to the Christchurch earthquakes, and when I pay attention, I’m a
What is the time span of the stories in HOPE & WIRE?
HOPE & WIRE is set from September 3, 2010 to the autumn of 2011. I started
working on it in December 2011. It’s an intricate investigation into recent
history, though I’ve had to predict certain outcomes so that HOPE & WIRE
retains relevance.
And you’re not trying to cover everybody’s experience over the whole time
span of the earthquakes, are you?
It is not about everybody’s earthquakes. I have steered clear of extremes and
focussed on stories of common experience. HOPE & WIRE distils as many
stories of common experience as possibly to present compelling, sometimes
funny, sometimes searing drama.
It’s not really about earthquakes, it’s about people?
You find out a huge amount about the psychology of trauma in an earthquake
zone. The first thing you notice is that everyone reacts differently. Everyone’s
physical situation is different, but also everyone’s psychological situation is
different. What causes one person to rise above and triumph could be another
person’s absolute tragedy. In a large communal disaster where you’ve got a
lot of psychological disruption, people are thrown together or pushed apart.
There’s a psychological earthquake that follows the physical earthquake and
it’s the psychological earthquake that I wanted to explore.
And you chose drama as the way to explore it?
HOPE & WIRE being a drama offered me a great opportunity to observe and
research more like a novelist. You can tell a story without any living person
having to own it. HOPE & WIRE is a social and psychological investigation that makes it sound as though it’s going to be hard to watch - but it’s not. My
job as a filmmaker is to illuminate through stories. I hear a story, I’m told a
story, I read a story, then I take those stories and I apply them to the story
families that I’ve created for the whole series.
Story families?
I’ve created story families in order to tell a larger tale. The central story family
was inspired by a photo essay in The Press called ‘Camp Mother’s Big
Adventure’, about a couple who were forced to live in their backyard and
reported that they had become healthier and happier. That story gave me the
inspiration for the “positive heart” of the series. Before I found that, I had been
worried that the series could be too difficult to tell. Good storytelling needs
the light to shine through the dark.
There’s a middle-class family who live in Merivale and a young kiwi family
who live in suburban Atlantis, near Bexley. Those three character families
gave me the ability to not only look at the quake reaction across different
social groups, but also different age groups, from young children and
teenagers right through to the elderly.
Please talk about each group, starting with Muntville?
Muntville is an old inner city house with a few flats in it. Upstairs live the white
power boys with Monee and their dog. In the front are University students and
down in the bottom flat are Len and Joycie, welfare beneficiaries - but Joycie
has a little job once a week looking after an elderly woman. Len is a retired
seaman from Liverpool. He’s a unionist who has an opinion on everything.
When the first earthquake strikes, their kitchen is wrecked so they start
cooking outside and looking after stray animals who have been deserted by
their quake runner owners. It’s a small step for them to start looking after stray
Their landlord Greggo is a small-time developer. He drives naked through the
dark streets in September, checking his properties. Greggo has a loose
business arrangement with his mate Ryan, a digger driver. Ryan, his wife
Donna and their two little girls live near Bexley in their dream home in a culde-sac in Atlantis. They’re mortgaged to the max so when the earthquakes
happen and Ryan finds his skills in demand, he’s making money and doesn’t
take seriously that Donna is totally traumatised. The tragedy of that couple is
that one reacts with “flight” and the other with “fight” and it’s almost
Meanwhile in Merivale lives Ginny, the perfect middle-class wife, with her
adored lawyer husband Jonty, and their two teenage children. Ginny sings in
her church choir and is family focussed but when the earthquakes reveal
secrets, she is forced to turn and focus on a much wider world. The
earthquakes cause her to discover strengths she didn’t know she had, and
she embraces an entirely new direction in life. She discovers compassion.
There’s a theme about caring for one another that runs across the whole
series. This includes Ryan, the good neighbour who gets left with everybody’s
keys when they all leave. When he loses people to look after as the suburb
empties, he implodes because his internal world is bereaved. He’s a fix-it guy
with no-one to fix it for, and he can’t fix it for himself.
I’m interested in contrasting the characters. For example – look at what
happens to Jonty. He owns a holiday house in Wanaka and the family home
in the city and has a good relationship with his bank manager. He might
actually be more heavily mortgaged than Ryan and Donna over in Atlantis, but
he has a lot more choices. There are people who, no matter what happens to
them, they’ve got choices. Like Greggo, the opportunist, fast-talking guy on
the move. He tells us “I’m a glass half-full kind of guy”. No matter what
happens, he’ll never tell you he’s in trouble. He might be up to his ears in it
but he’s never going to say. And then you have Joycie and Len, who have
been doing disaster management for years. They take each day as it comes
because every day is a bit of a crisis one way or another for them. They are
therefore used to only dealing with today’s difficulties, and not worrying about
tomorrow. They cope the best. They’re used to it. They have nothing, so they
have nothing to lose.
There is a possibility that people will refer to HOPE & WIRE as “New
Zealand’s Treme”, how do you address that?
If Treme hadn’t been made, I don’t think HOPE & WIRE would have
happened. Treme led the way in telling an entertaining story set in a wrecked
city. There are similarities – for example the music - threading The Eastern
through HOPE & WIRE. But the difference with HOPE & WIRE is that the
earthquakes provide every inciting incident of the drama in the characters’
lives. You can look at anything any character does and see that they would
not have done that if it weren’t for the earthquakes.
Wouldn’t some of those things have happened anyway: like Hayley being just
a typical teenager, Tim longing to get away from home?
In the case of Hayley and her friends, their development is accelerated
because of the trauma of the earthquake. Without it, they may have slowed
down a bit, they might have gone to school a bit more. Monee’s an abused
young woman in an abusive relationship and if that abusive relationship hadn’t
been forced out into the backyard of Muntville, it could have gone on for some
time. It’s an earthquake story about things being thrust out into the light
because the walls have fallen down. I was told about similar circumstances
occurring in Napier in 1931.
Donna talks about the taniwha under Christchurch. Where does that come
I was sent a drawing of ‘the monster under Christchurch’ by a child who was a
quake refugee, and I heard that among some Maori, there was a belief that
taniwha had been disturbed because Christchurch was bult in the wrong
place. Back when I was researching the Napier earthquakes, I was told firsthand stories of the taniwha in Napier - of the flesh-coloured shark being in the
Ahuriri lagoon that day.
How did it come about that you cast Bernard Hill in the role of Len?
I met him when he was in New Zealand working on The Lord of the Rings and
we immediately clicked. He is a good person to talk to about script and story
and we always thought we would do something together one day. He kept
coming back to New Zealand and on one of his trips I gave him the outline of
HOPE & WIRE because I thought he would be perfect for Len, the unionist
couch potato partner of Joycie. I offered him the part, but I never really
thought he would be available to do it.
Alongside the large cast of exceptional actors, including Rachel House,
Chelsie Preston Crayford, Luanne Gordon and Stephen Lovatt, you cast
several Christchurch actors?
With a strong ensemble core cast on board, it was a great opportunity to use,
not only extras and small speaking parts from Canterbury, but also to cast upand-coming talented young local actors. The teenage stories are full of
Christchurch actors. We were given the Ilam School of Fine Arts film school
facilities over the Christmas holidays where our casting director, Christina
Asher, ran open auditions. We found Lucy Wyma who plays Hayley, and
David Sutherland, who plays her brother Tim. Eilish Moran, a respected
Canterbury theatre actress, plays Monee’s mother Deirdre.
You also cast some Christchurch non-actors?
Simo (Mohamed Abbari) is a chef. I saw him in one of Paua Productions’
Aftermath earthquake documentaries. They followed his story of losing his
restaurant in the September earthquake, getting another one that was
destroyed in December and having his next one locked behind the cordon
after February 22nd. A remarkable man. Of course by the time we had him
acting in the movie, he’d already set up a falafel cart and a new restaurant out
at Riccarton that we then used as a location.
Why did you choose Dave Armstrong to write the scripts with you?
Sadly, Graeme Tetley, my writing partner for most of my career, died in 2011.
He survived being in Lyttelton during the February 22 earthquake but died of a
heart attack after watching TV reports of the Japanese earthquake and
tsunami. I believe he is an earthquake victim. The line Len says about being
in Lyttelton: “If you want to know where the earthquake was, it was right under
my pink bum” is Graeme’s line about his experience.
I knew I needed to work with someone who was used to translating true
stories into drama. I'm a great admirer of Dave Armstrong’s theatre work. He’s
also an experienced TV series writer and is stronger than I am on story whereas I work from character and internal disharmony - so we make a useful
team. I’m always looking for inciting incidents that are going to impact
internally on the characters, but he would always push for more external story.
It was a hard process because we hadn’t worked together before, but
ultimately very rewarding.
Because of the short interval between writing your first draft, getting funding
and shooting the series, you have said the whole process was invigorating.
How so?
It felt so fresh. The usual process is: you have the idea, write the script and
then spend five, 10 or 20 years getting the funding, by which time you’re
sometimes asking yourself “what was I trying to say here?”
The incredible thing about HOPE & WIRE for me as a filmmaker is that I
finished writing the shooting draft of the scripts just two weeks before we
started shooting. That’s brilliant because I was physically in the place of the
story while being deeply immersed in the script writing. I was in two places at
once – I was in Christchurch writing it in 2013 with my head in Christchurch in
2010-11. It was demanding for the production, but the up side was that I had a
film crew there doing pre-production while I was writing. It’s easy to think of
the film crew as a whole lot of technicians who run the gear, but actually a film
crew is a whole lot of people who go out at night and meet people. They
would come back from the pub and tell me about things they’d heard, so the
last draft of the scripts got coloured and kept changing as I learned more
everyday details.
Who do you see as the audience for HOPE & WIRE?
I hope HOPE & WIRE is a relevant, truthful and entertaining drama series with
an emotional impact that is a fitting reflection of that time in that place.
Ultimately, HOPE & WIRE is about what happens when the social crucible
cracks and the light shines in.
“HOPE & WIRE deals with the lives of three discrete groups of Christchurch
people during the earthquakes, and it concerns that period from September
2010 to April-May 2011. It’s deliberately not about the earthquakes as such:
there’s already been enough of that on TV. It’s not meant to be a recreation of
the earthquakes – rather it’s about the lives of three different groups of people
and what happens to them under such stress. It’s an unusually extreme
opportunity to not just make up what might have happened – but to actually
see it as recent history. Because what happens to these characters is what
has actually happened to some of the people in Christchurch.
There are three main groups in the story: at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder there’s a large central-city house divided into flats. We have
a lawyer and wife whose children attend private schools, and they have a well
laid-out ordered life. And the third is an upwardly mobile family of ordinary
New Zealanders.”
“Although Gaylene has researched the stories of real people, the characters
she has created come out of her past, some from elements of her family.
There’s a real South Island spirit woven through the characters. Her family
comes from the West Coast and she’s used them as vehicles to carry real
“One of the things that fascinates me about Gaylene is that she is probably
the only one of my contemporaries working in film who is capable of
synthesising documentary reality into fiction. She’s done it with her own family
and created something universal and real with War Stories Our Mothers
Never Told Us and Home By Christmas. And now she’s done it with the
stories of the people of Christchurch - she’s synthesising those into a version
of reality, of drama. I cannot think of another practitioner in New Zealand who
has the resources, humanity, ability and experience to do that.
“HOPE & WIRE doesn’t attempt to be sensationalist. The object is to put
human beings under a microscope and see what we do under extreme
pressure and stress. It’s not just about the earthquakes. One of the things you
observe in Christchurch is the extraordinary good humour of people, even
though they’re hardened by and enduring a kind of a post traumatic stress
that’s gone on now for approaching three years. New Zealanders have the
ability to find humour in misfortune as a way of grappling with it: and the
people in this series do just that. This is a story about the triumph of simple
humanity over events and that simple humanity revolves around a sense of
humour, the ability to not make light of things but to find humour in moments.
If you didn’t find humour in them, it would just simply overwhelm you.”
“HOPE & WIRE was the chance to make a drama that was based on
something that was of historical significance. It is about how people’s lives are
affected by events totally beyond their control and how they begin to grapple
with that. How they try to put pieces of their lives into order again. The
opportunity to work on something that has that much human reality, that much
sense of human dignity was too great to turn down. The idea here was to use
television to cement in our collective memory a past, a history and a sense of
legend – and I believe this series goes some way down that track. Gaylene
described it to me as her wanting to send a postcard to the rest of New
Zealand saying, ‘look, we’re still here, we’re still getting on with our lives in an
environment that at times looks post-apocalyptic.’
“I hope the audience will laugh and cry but also I hope the audience looks at
Christchurch and remembers the enormity of what happened there and
remember that it’s filled with their fellow New Zealanders going through a
remarkable trauma: and that it’s an ongoing trauma that will continue for many
Bernard Hill
Rachel House
Jarod Rawiri
Miriama McDowell
Luanne Gordon
Stephen Lovatt
Joel Tobeck
Chelsie Preston Crayford
The Eastern
Bernard Hill plays LEN
Bernard Hill plays Len, who, having arrived in Lyttelton in 1976 and played his
part as a union advocate, is now a bored welfare beneficiary who has found a
late-in-life love with his darling Joycie. He’s a curmudgeon with opinions on
everything, which he shares from the couch.
With a career spanning 35 years, Bernard Hill is among Britain’s most
accomplished actors, working in film, television and theatre. His major film
roles include King Theoden in Lord of the Rings, Captain EJ Smith in Titanic,
Cole in The Bounty and Yosser Hughes in Boys From the Blackstuff. He
played Gratus in the acclaimed series I Claudius and Sergeant Putnam in
Gandhi. He is playing Norfolk in the BBC Two/Masterpiece Theater TV series
Wolf Hall directed by Peter Kosminsky.
His other films include Madagascar Skin, Drug-Taking and the Arts,
Dirtysomething, Drowning by Numbers, Bellman and True, Milwr Bychan,
Squaring the Circle, The Spongers and Pit Strike.
He earned critical acclaim for roles in stage and television productions of
Shakespeare's plays and TV adaptations of such classics as The Mill on the
Floss, The Wind in the Willows and Antigone. He won Britain's Press Guild
award for Achievement of the Decade for his performance in Boys From the
Blackstuff. In 1994 he received a BAFTA award for his starring role in Screen
Two: Skallagrigg TV drama.
What was it that attracted you to this series HOPE & WIRE?
I suppose it was the general concept of putting something on record that
actually happened. Putting it in a dramatic way but mixed with real footage,
but also I knew that Gaylene, with her particular eye - which is very
documentary-like - and that vision translated into drama made for quite an
interesting mix.
I wouldn’t have done it for anybody else, because I knew that Gaylene would
do it with integrity and honesty and accuracy. She’s got strong links to
Christchurch with a profound sense of supporting the people who have
survived the earthquakes.
Was it a difficult decision to come all the way over here to do this?
Once I knew all the conditions would fall in place with Gaylene and how she
was going to approach it and the people she was talking about getting on
board, I could see that it was going to be, if not groundbreaking, it was going
to be pretty close. Its own little mini-earthquake, if you like.
An old friend of mine Tom Burstyn is director of photography - I’ve known him
for quite a long time. Mark Ashton, (one of the first assistant directors), I've
known from Lord of the Rings. I’ve never worked with Alun Bollinger (2nd unit
director), but I know him. Things like that. There were lot of elements that
seemed it was right for me to do this and I felt it would make me feel more
integrated into kiwi life.
How much time have you spent in New Zealand?
I have a very strong emotional link with New Zealand - going way back to
about 1983, when I first came here to film parts of Roger Donaldson’s The
Bounty. Since then, I’ve been here for Lord of the Rings and I’ve been coming
back here regularly with my son since we finished shooting Rings. I came for
the big premiere in Wellington and a holiday with my son, who wanted to have
another look around because he’s thinking of doing a gap year here.
Did your feelings for New Zealand play a part in your decision to take this
Doing Rings - travelling around as much as we did - I felt I was kind of living
here and I felt that the country had given me an awful lot and that people I met
and associated with had given me an awful lot and this in a way was some
kind of way, not a majestic way, but some kind of way to give something back.
One thing I would say is that this would never have happened if Gaylene
Preston wasn’t Gaylene Preston.
Have you known Gaylene for a long time?
We met – there’s some question of where we actually met and when – we’ve
both got our own different opinions of that, like we have about most things, but
anyway we met while I was here doing the main body of Lord of the Rings. At
that time she had a script, Perfect Strangers, and I kind of worked with her
about a character she was interested for me to play. We worked quite
extensively and then for various reasons we weren’t able to do it.
So, I think from then on we thought ‘come the time’, and we’ve kept in touch
over the years. When she was in England with Home By Christmas, I came to
the London Film Festival screening, and she came to stay with us. It turns out
almost every kiwi I met in London that I came across knew her anyway, or
was related to her.
Have you been involved for a long time with HOPE & WIRE?
Yes. I like being involved from the beginning. Gaylene and I came down to
Christchurch and we went inside the cordon to the red zone, escorted by
CERA. Then, when I got back home, Gaylene gave me some notes that she’d
written and a synopsis. And from there eventually there was a general
template and it kept growing through to individual first drafts.
Your character, Len – is he an activist, an anarchist or just somebody who
wants to just get on with it?
He’s all those three, really. In varying stages of his life he was a real activist
and a very strong unionist and even though he’s English, he’s obviously got a
lot of commitment to the fine workings of kiwi unionism.
I think he’s mainly concerned with the stability of his life, of his relationship
and he follows Joycie’s lead because she’s, as he says, she’s the camp
mother. He follows that and supports her. I mean, his main strength comes
from Joycie. They help each other. They’re like two fish that swim side by
side. Neither leading; neither following.
The commentary that Len provides throughout the series is quite provocative.
What’s your take on that?
A lot of it came from me anyway. Gaylene and I would chat about Len and I’d
say we should do this and that and she be making mental notes and then
interpreting it all into the script. I knew that process was happening, so I
turned it on a bit.
The earthquakes wake Len up a bit, but he’s always got something to say
about everything. That’s quite a warming thing. Some of it is tongue-in-cheek,
but some of it is serious.
This thing she’s got Len saying about it’s not a coincidence that global
warming is happening and we’re getting more earthquakes. Well, there’s no
real count on earthquakes to say that we’re getting more than before, but
there’s plenty of conspiracy theorists out there, so this is represented by Len’s
rave. All the dodgy bits she sticks in Len’s mouth. We have a laugh about
Rachel House plays JOYCIE
In HOPE & WIRE, Rachel House plays Joycie, a caregiver who lives with her
soul mate, Len, in a big old house that becomes “The Free State of Muntville”
after the first earthquake. Joycie is the heart of the series, the den mother who
cares for everyone, with her motto: “keep calm and carry on.”
Of Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mutunga descent, Rachel House is an award-winning
director and actor in New Zealand theatre who continues to make a significant
contribution to the rise of Maori Theatre. She was recently Artistic Director of
Toroihi raua ko Kahiri, The Maori Troilus and Cressida, which was performed
in the NZ International Arts Festival and in London’s Globe Theatre’s Globe to
Globe Festival.
Her film roles include Whale Rider and Eagle versus Shark. In the highly
acclaimed Boy, she played Auntie Gracie and was acting coach for the child
actors. She plays Maraea in the internationally respected White Lies.
In 2008 she attended the Prague film school and was awarded Best Director
for her short film Bravo and the Audience Award for another short, New Skirt.
In 2010 she directed a short film The Winter Boy, which has been selected in
many international film festivals. Rachel House received an Arts Foundation
Laureate Award in 2012.
In describing the role of Joycie in HOPE & WIRE, Rachel House says:
“I was very drawn to Joycie and Len’s predicament and the world they create
in order to survive. Joycie’s perspective is very interesting: she keeps saying
throughout the series ‘I’ve been to hell and back and I’m not letting any old
earthquake get me’. When this interviewer comes along and asks she’s been,
she says ‘well, actually we’ve really sorted ourselves out. We’re both a lot
healthier. We got off the couch, we stopped watching television and our lives
have improved.’ “I know that Gaylene has researched all these people
thoroughly and there’s a very truthful perspective in those characters. It’s
great writing with great characters. The series has a big, big heart.”
“There is the view that Joycie is the heart of the series, but for me it’s actually
the spirit of survival which is the heart of the series and in that case it’s all of
the characters because they’ve all survived. I think Joycie is a wonderful
person and she steps up to the camp mother role very easily She’s a caregiver and -I mean you only have to look at her to see that she cares for
everybody else but not really herself. I’ve had a fair bit to do with care-givers
because I’ve got elderly parents and they are just the heroes, their life is
about looking after other people. And so I feel very proud to represent that
aspect of Joycie.”
“This series is an opportunity to show what has actually gone on for the
people living in Christchurch, how they’ve had to deal with it and how it has
affected their lives. It’s still going on and will continue to go on for years and
years, no doubt.”
“It was quite an honour to film it in Christchurch and what I've been really
moved by is how many people are ready to tell their stories. We were
surrounded by the people who it really happened to and there was no
avoiding it. You’d go to the supermarket or a shop or to a party and people
would tell you their story. It felt like it was a very, very intense time and there
seems to be a great sense of community down there which I really enjoyed.”
“Bernard and I did a scene with the student boys and we got the actual
newspaper that came out the day after the February 22 earthquake. It was
just mind-blowing when we opened it. For starters, one of the actors playing a
student was on the front page. He said ‘that’s me’ and another one said ‘that’s
my teacher.’ I know Bernard was deeply affected by that. It was just page
after page of details. It was extraordinary and it felt like we were kind of reliving it.”
Jarod Rawiri plays RYAN
In HOPE & WIRE, Jarod Rawiri plays Ryan, a digger driver who aspires to
own his own machine and to provide the best for his family – “gold taps” as he
says to his wife Donna, the love of his life. He cannot leave Christchurch while
there’s a job to be done cleaning up and fixing the place.
Jarod Rawiri’s feature films include the recently premiered Fantail as well as
Matariki, Jinx Sister, and A Song of Good. He starred in award-winning short
films Kerosene Creek, directed by Michael Bennett, and Tama Tū, directed by
Taika Waititi. He was also the lead in Michael Bennett’s short film Tangi and
Lauren Jackson’s new short, I’m Going to Mum’s.
His television roles include Wattie in the acclaimed TV3 series Harry. He
played Hone Heke in What Really Happened?, Ike Metekingi in Billy, Mana in
The Almighty Johnsons and Constable Hashtu in Stolen. Other television
work includes Auckland Daze, The Market, Mataku and Kōrero Mai.
He also has a distinguished theatre career, including the lead role in I, George
Nepia in 2011 and in the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival, Tanemahuta Gray’s
spectacular Māui and The Prophet, which toured NZ and Hawaii and Silo
Theatre’s Angels in America in 2014.
He went to Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School with Miriama McDowell, who
plays his wife, Donna in HOPE & WIRE. He is of Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti
Tuwharetoa and Ngāti Hine descent.
Jarod Rawiri says of his HOPE & WIRE character, Ryan:
“Prior to the earthquake, Ryan was a young professional trying to establish
himself, to get his own little piece of the pie. He was with the love of his life,
Donna, and his two little girls and was happy. He describes them as ‘just your
average kiwi family.’ He was on his way to living his dream - having his own
patch of grass, his own home, and his business.”
“Then he goes from being that idealistic, happy person, to having his world
crumble around him. He loses everything. He loses his home, his job and his
working relationships. He gets ripped off badly. He went from being someone
who thought they were doing well for themselves in a career, to realising that
he was just a small fish. It comes to that realisation. He discovers that people
he thought were friends had just been using him. So I don’t know how you
recover from something like that.”
“In a lot of ways Ryan and Donna are the main tragedy of the series. Tragedy
of the heart. As well as the mind. The earthquake reveals their desires but
also their weaknesses and their differences. They weren’t able to meet each
other through that. One leaves, one stays, how can you meet?”
“Ryan didn’t grow up with a strong Māori influence, he’s kind of your middle
New Zealander, just trying to make a living and get on with working and being
part of society. He wasn’t interested in trying to figure out his iwi or where his
family came from. It was just all about living his little dream.”
On his reaction to reading the script:
“I’m a typical Aucklander in that all I knew about the earthquakes was what I’d
seen in the media and I had no real idea of the magnitude of what
Christchurch people went through. So when I heard that this project was
coming up, like every actor, I thought ‘oh, I’ll just go along to the audition’. So
then I got the job and read the scripts and I started to understand what people
had gone through and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
On working with writer/director Gaylene Preston:
“She is everything in a director. I’ve never met anyone who is so passionate
about film-making and every aspect of it. I’ve worked with people who
understand the visual side, the technical side, the pictures, or the
performance side, the acting. But I’ve never worked with a director who’s
interested in what the frame looks like, what the actor looks like, how the
sound works, how many people there are in the background, how bright the
light is, what colour the water is. I’ve never worked with someone that
passionate about what the picture is actually saying. She’s very thorough. In
that way it feels like you’re working with a genius.”
A highlight:
“I got to spend a bit of time on a digger. Driving it was amazing. I was nervous
at the start. There were some technical moves that only an experienced driver
could do, so there was a stunt driver, but I tried to do as much as possible. I
really enjoyed driving the massive digger. There’s something exciting about
having a machine that weighs two tonnes and you have control of it. Boys with
their toys, I guess.”
Miriama McDowell plays DONNA
In HOPE & WIRE, Miriama McDowell plays Donna, mother of two girls and
wife of digger driver Ryan. She is terrified by the earthquakes, believing them
to be taniwha, and flees for Auckland, taking her children to the safety of her
mother’s place.
Miriama McDowell, of Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi descent, has two award
nominations: supporting actress at the NZ Screen Awards for her role as
Hibiscus in Toa Fraser’s feature No 2, and best actress in the Aotearoa Film
and TV Awards for her role as Jessica in This Is Not My Life.
She played Sgt Denise Traill in Stolen, Hariata in What Really Happened:
Waitangi and Foxy Lady in Dean Spanley. Her other television credits include
Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, Interrogation and Mataku.
She also performs in theatre, including Raising the Titanics, Havoc in the
Garden and The Prophet. She went to Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School with
Jarod Rawiri, who plays her husband Ryan in HOPE & WIRE.
Miriama McDowell describes her HOPE & WIRE character, Donna:
“When we were discussing the character’s costume, we kept talking about
Michele Obama: very well put-together, quite conservative, strong-willed. For
her it’s about paying the mortgage – she’s one of those people that values
things – gold taps, as Ryan promises her.”
“Before the earthquakes, that was what it was about – paying the mortgage,
having a freehold house, having a nice house, not rocking the boat too much.
And that’s the tragedy of the story: if the earthquakes hadn’t happened, I don’t
think anything bad would have happened to that family. I think they would
have had a really great life, brought the kids up nice, retired and bought a
boat to go fishing.”
“After she left, she had a real instinct that if she went back, she would die.
There was a turning point for her and she went, ‘I have to get out of here and
if me and my kids don’t get out of here, something really bad is going to
happen.’ The taniwha is one label for it, but I think she had an instinct, a
sense of doom: something really bad was going to happen if she went back.
Like ‘I got out and if I go back I’m tempting fate’.
On Donna’s fall into the pit of liquefaction:
“The physical thing of going into the liquefaction was just so intense. I just
can’t imagine how that would be in real life. They dug a hole and we had to
shoot the bit where I slip in and then shoot the bit when I’m right in it in a
separate shot. I had to go under and it was cold, muddy water. It was not like
being a spa pool. It was cold, dirty water and every time I got out it was really
cold and it was disgusting. Jarod called it the pit of eternal despair.”
On working with Gaylene Preston:
“I loved the chance to work with Gaylene. From the minute I met her, I thought
‘Oh, I feel really comfortable with her. She feels like a theatre director’. It felt
like she’s the kind of director that wants you to try stuff out and figure it out as
you go. She’s a real collaborator. She has a very strong vision about what she
wants, but she doesn’t know the answer when you start a scene, which I love.”
“This is why the story is so alive and fresh. The thing that amazed me about
her is that even two days from the end of shooting, she was still going up to
people - extras, delivery people, truck drivers in the area - and asking them
what their story is. It’s never too late with Gaylene. She is a storyteller. She
really wants to know people’s stories. I guess it’s like that thing of ‘you might
tell me one thing that’ll change my perspective on this character, so I’m going
to ask you just in case you’re that one person’. Amazing.”
Luanne Gordon plays GINNY
In HOPE & WIRE, Luanne Gordon plays Ginny, an upper middle-class
woman whose husband Jonty, a lawyer, is the breadwinner. They have two
teenagers, the petulant and rebellious Hayley and quietly determined Tim,
who suffers brain damage in the earthquake. Ginny’s world is turned upside
down in every possible way by the earthquakes and she has to find her own
resilience and independence.
HOPE & WIRE is Luanne Gordon’s first job on returning to New Zealand from
six years in the UK, where her work included an Irish feature Sensation and
TV dramas Shameless and Casualty.
Her film credits include King Kong and Mee-Shee: The Water Giant and she
won the best supporting actress NZ Film Award for her role in Stickmen. Her
television roles include the lead as Melissa in The Strip, DS Angela Darley in
Interrogation, Maxine in The Insider’s Guide to Happiness and she played
Grinhilda in Xena Warrior Princess. She has also worked in theatre and won
the Chapman Tripp Best newcomer award in 2000 for Serial Killers.
Luanne Gordon says of her HOPE & WIRE character, Ginny:
“Ginny’s in a really happy marriage - she’s been married for decades to a
successful husband with his own law firm. They have money, they don’t want
for anything and their children are at the finest schools. She sees her family
as being nothing spectacular, just a regular family, although they have a lot of
money and privilege.
“After the earthquake, she loses trust in her entire family and she talks about
how the earthquake - the rocking and shaking of the foundations of the earth wasn’t the only thing that was rocked and shaken. It was the foundations of
her family that were really rocked.”
“She becomes less concerned with material things: her appearance, the
superficial consumerist aspects to her life. Her life had always been perfect.
She was always protected. When all that protection was eroded and she
couldn’t trust her husband to take care of things, she had to go out and do it
for herself. She discovered that she really cares about what’s going on, and
that makes her much stronger, more capable and more courageous.”
“I was away in the UK when the Christchurch earthquakes hit. I came back in
November 2012, and I saw a Campbell Live story where they showed footage
of Christchurch and how it was before the earthquakes and how it is now. I
was watching that in tears. The earthquakes were a huge thing for people to
go through. People outside of Christchurch talked about it for however long
they talked about it, and people tried to help and did what they could, but then
they tended to forget about it and get on with their lives. But people in
Christchurch are still going through it and I think HOPE & WIRE is an
important New Zealand story to remind us of what happened. I love that I’m
back in New Zealand and involved in telling a really important New Zealand
“Gaylene Preston is one of New Zealand’s finest filmmakers. I do not know an
actor who would have turned down a role in this series. She’s very organic in
her approach and flexible to her environment. I completely trusted that she
would know when she’s got what she needs. I felt I was in safe hands, and
that’s a really fortunate position to be in for an actor.”
Stephen Lovatt plays JONTY
In HOPE & WIRE, Stephen Lovatt is Jonty, the lawyer who is caught out
juggling a few too many things when the earthquakes strike. He faces
questions from his investors and eventually from his wife, Ginny, when the
money-go-around grinds to a halt. And there’s also the matter of his flirtatious
dependence on his colleague, Emma.
Stephen Lovatt has recently played two policemen – he was Officer Pete in
Jane Campion’s acclaimed Top of the Lake and DI Kevin Gray in Harry and
he was Rog the servo worker in the feature Fantail.
He is best known for his role as Max Hoyland in the Australian soap
Neighbours, and he also has major roles in US productions made in New
Zealand. He played Tullius Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Hades in Xena:
Warrior Princess and Galen, the Vampire Hunter in Hercules the Legendary
Journeys, as well as roles in Legend of the Seeker, Cleopatra 2525 and
Power Rangers.
His NZ feature film work includes Savage Honeymoon, Show of Hands, and
The End of the Golden Weather and NZ television work includes Strongman,
The Cure, Go Girls, Duggan, Waitangi: What Really Happened, Being Eve,
Mataku and The Strip.
Stephen Lovatt says of his HOPE & WIRE character, Jonty:
“He’s just doing a perfectly adequate job as a lawyer and he’s got a lovely
wife and two lovely kids and a lovely house and it’s all just fine really. He’s
comfortable. They have the holiday home and the marriage is good. It’s a
good life.”
“Then the earthquake happens and in an instant Jonty realises that the house
of cards that he’s been operating is going to fall around him because he
hasn’t been running his trust fund particularly well. He realises that people are
going to need their money and he has no real records of it.”
“The structure of the story over the series as a whole is kind of like an
earthquake. It fractures, it doesn’t have a central narrative, it breaks apart often in strange and quite disconcerting ways - and you lose characters and
then they pop up and their story has travelled and you just jump in and there
they are, moving through the next bit. And then they turn around and talk right
at you, and it’s all kind of discombobulating and fractured. It’s as if the way the
story is structured is similar to what the story is about. It’s about a fractured
community and people’s lives being fractured and it’s told in a fractured kind
of way where hopefully the viewers are going to be hooked in because it’s an
emotional ride for them.”
“I really wanted to be involved with this. I heard that Gaylene was doing a
television series set around the earthquakes and what’s happened to
Christchurch and because I know Gaylene's work, I wanted to be in it.”
Joel Tobeck plays GREGGO
Joel Tobeck’s HOPE & WIRE character Greggo is a property developer who
leaps out of bed, rushes to his car and drives naked through the earthquakeravaged streets to check on his properties after the first earthquake.
Writer/director Gaylene Preston says this incident is based on a true story.
Joel Tobeck has an international career in television and film, which includes
US series Sons of Anarchy, Spartacus: War of the Damned, City Homicide
and Hawaii Five-O, Without A Trace, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules,
Young Hercules and Cleopatra 2525; Australian series Tangle, Miss Fisher’s
Murder Mysteries, The Doctor Blake Mysteries and 30 Seconds. His NZ
television drama work includes Siege, Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green
Cloud, This is Not My Life, Lawless, Interrogation and Mercy Peak.
His feature films include the critically acclaimed Little Fish, Eagle vs Shark,
Memory & Desire and Perfect Strangers. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of
the King, 30 Days of Night, The Water Horse, Mee-Shee: The Water Giant,
Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell and Topless Women Talk About Their
Lives, for which he won a New Zealand Film Awards best actor award.
Joel Tobeck says of his HOPE & WIRE character, Greggo:
“I don’t think Greggo changed much between before and after the
earthquakes, given the way he operates as a property developer. Once the
earthquake happened, he saw the opportunity to really take advantage of the
situation, so I think his modus operandi is the same. For him, it’s about getting
as much out of the situation as he can.”
“I know property developers are not very popular at the best of times, which is
why I guess in some unconscious way I've tried to make him more humorous,
more of a likeable rogue. Because these guys aren’t popular. There are a lot
of people there who have been ripped off by landlords and building
companies and they’ll tell you they’re sick of it.”
“The earthquakes are such a serious matter and there’s so much drama going
on you have to make light of some things. It’s a reflection of the New Zealand
spirit that Gaylene captures so well in this series. There’s a nice humorous
side to it and the characters are quite endearing. I don’t think you want to six
episodes of total cry-fest. It’s got to be balanced out.”
On why he accepted the role: “Gaylene rang and obviously if Gaylene Preston
rings and asks you to do something, you do it because she won’t take no for
an answer. I’ve always loved working with her. We did Perfect Strangers
together. She has a unique way of working. She can make stuff up on the go,
which I love. She gave me a good break with Perfect Strangers in that I got to
work with Sam Neill and she’s so respected and been around so long now
that if she says she wants to you do something, you do it.”
“She said ‘I've got this role I'd love you to do’, so I thought ‘well, in a small,
peculiar, insignificant way this is my way of helping Christchurch.’ I arrived
back from LA on the day of the earthquake and to see those images and to
hear those stories . . . It doesn’t really hit you until you get here how tough it’s
been for everybody, so I guess my taking part in this series is fairly paltry,
really, in the light of what's been going on, but it’s all I can do at the moment.”
Chelsie Preston Crayford plays MONEE
In HOPE & WIRE, Chelsie Preston Crayford plays Monee, a teenage runaway
living with a group of white power thugs with her beloved dog, Unty, who
comes to Joycie and Len’s attention in the backyard of Muntville.
Awarded the Australian Logie award for Outstanding New Talent in 2012,
Chelsie Preston Crayford is establishing a successful career on both sides of
the Tasman. The award was for her performance as Tilly Devine in the hit
series Underbelly: Razor. She followed that with roles in telefeatures The
Mystery of a Hansom Cab and Dripping in Chocolate. Her most recent
Australian series is the upcoming CODE, a six-hour series for ABC TV, with
David Wenham, Lucy Lawless, Adam Garcia and Dan Spielman.
She played her own grandmother as a young woman in Gaylene Preston’s
feature Home By Christmas and had roles in Anthony McCarten’s Show of
Hands and Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark and What We Do In The Shadows.
Her NZ television drama work includes Fiona Samuel’s Bliss and TVNZ series
The Cult, which earned her a best supporting actress nomination in the
Qantas Film and Television Awards. She was awarded Best Performance in a
Short Film at the 2007 New Zealand Screen Awards for her role in Peter
Salmon’s Fog, winner of the audience vote at Cannes Film Festival Critics
Her theatre work includes the innovative Carnival of Souls, which travelled to
Sydney and Perth Arts Festivals; Silo Theatre’s That Face, The Vagina
Monologues, Ruben Guthrie and Angels in America. She has taken her first
steps as a director, with her short film Here Now a finalist in the 2013 NZ
International Film Festival Short Films competition. On HOPE & WIRE she
also worked with the production as acting coach for some of the young cast
Chelsie Preston Crayford describes her HOPE & WIRE character Monee:
“She already lives in chaos – she’s estranged from her family, she’s caught up
with a bad crowd - she has been isolated by her abusive relationship and her
only friend is a dog. Through the earthquakes, she is liberated by the fact that
everybody around her, for a moment, is in as much chaos as she is. Also,
being forced to live in the backyard among people she would normally not
associate with, brings light to her life.”
On the attraction for her of HOPE & WIRE:
“There are so many attractions to this job for me. It really did feel like a bit of a
dream scenario because I love working with Gaylene. We are mother and
daughter and creatively we speak the same language. We have innate trust
and a really shorthand fast-track level of communication. I wholeheartedly
believe and respect her creatively.
It felt like an incredible time to be in Christchurch. It felt like a blessing to
actually have an insight into what is happening on the ground there. I haven’t
worked in New Zealand for a couple of years, and this feels like such an
important story for our country.”
“Gaylene’s work has always been historical, but this feels like current history.
During the shoot we were living in a community, meeting different people
every day, and everyone had a story. The stories are bursting out of them. It
felt like a privilege on so many levels.”
“ I’m also very attracted to roles that are really not like myself, so that’s
another drawcard for me. Playing the character Monee involves a physical
transformation and a psychological challenge – a transformation of attitude,
everything. That’s about as good as it gets as an actor.”
On her contribution to writing Monee: “I’ve got a bit of a fascination with quirky
news stories, and every time I would come across an off-the-wall/offbeat story
about Christchurch, I would send it to Gaylene. One of those stories was
about a girl who was on trial for owning a dog that was trained to attack Asian
people and I thought OMG this is crazy. Gaylene read the Court Report and
decided the character could be a good girl who had been led astray by her
boyfriend. Hey Presto! Monee!.”
The Eastern is the band that features in HOPE & WIRE, doing what they did
with friends after the earthquakes – performing in any venue, including
backyards, around Christchurch, buoying up morale, bringing people together.
The Eastern song, Hope & Wire, inspired the title of this series and plays over
the opening titles.
Composer Adam McGrath says, “Songs have jobs to do, songs have work.
They do different things and they have different things that they need to do.
And this song had some work to do. Hopefully the little humble song is strong
enough to withstand all of this.”
“I wrote the song at Christmas the year of the earthquake. If you’re going to
have a natural disaster and then try and express that in some sort of artistic
way, you’re either going to go one way or the other: you need to be really
hopeful or full of despair and we chose to be hopeful. Hope isn’t enough,
though - it’s an intangible and it’s important - but you need the practical stuff,
so that’s where the wire comes in.”
THE EASTERN : Biography (from their Facebook profile)
The Eastern are a string band that roars like a punk band, that swings like a
gospel band, that drinks like a country band, that works like a bar band, that
hopes like folk singers, and sings love songs like union songs, and writes
union songs like love songs, and wants to slow dance and stand on tables, all
at the same time. Whether roaring as their big six piece string band or
swinging the loud lonesome sound as a two piece and averaging over 200
shows a year, The Eastern can hold it down in all settings for all comers.
Constantly on tour, The Eastern have played in every nook and corner of the
good isles of New Zealand, and have broken strings and dented floors in parts
beyond. From Papanui to Portland, Shirley to Sydney they’ve seen more than
their share of barrooms and street corners, but treat any opportunity to hold it
down and play as a gift and one they’d be fools to waste. They play like they
mean it, like its all they know how do…because they do and it is.
They’ve toured with Steve Earle (twice), the Old Crow Medicine Show (twice)
and the Lilʼ Band of Gold as well as opening for everyone from Fleetwood
Mac to the Jayhawks to Jimmy Barnes to Justin Townes Earle as well as Jim
White, Victoria Williams and Vic Chestnut. Over the past five years having
delivered up two albums (‘The Eastern’ and ‘Arrows’), three e.p.s and near-on
1000 shows, The Eastern have garnered a reputation as NZ’s hardest
working band. They gather converts and friends wherever they or their
records land. Thrillingly, the rolling, rambling, shambling, spirit raising
atmospheres they project in their live shows have endeared them to the
hearts of many. It’s obvious they care about the audience as much as the
They make friendships and family wherever their songs and stories ring out.
The trust they’ve built between themselves and the folks who come and hear
them is something they’re rightly proud of and they remain thrilled and
amazed it’s that relationship that has been able to keep their wheels on the
road and their bellies fed, not least the fact that as the years pass the threat of
their former day jobs coming back to capture them fades back into the ether.
Due to start recording their third album in February 2011, plans were waylaid
by the Christchurch earthquake, instead they gathered up friends and singers
alike in their home town of Lyttelton (Christchurchʼs port) and begin work on
the charity record ʻThe Harbour Unionʼ, ¬ the album debuted in the top 20 of
the NZ Chart, was nominated for New Zealand country music album of the
year and has proved to be a wonderful vehicle through which The Eastern
and their friends can trade music for donations to the Christchurch earthquake
They released across New Zealand and Australia of their third and most
realised record ‘Hope and Wire’… a double album rolling out at a single album
price its loaded with stories, heart and harmony as well as the grand barroom
philosophising and old time fury the band are known for. Hope and Wire
debuted at number 11 on the national charts and maintained a top ten
position in the NZ artist charts for the two months following as well as
gathering incredible reviews across NZ and beyond.