Home' The Wellingtonian : September 1st 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, SEPTEMBER 1, 2011
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Reeling in the stories
talks to film-maker
Costa Botes about
Clyde Quay School,
making Forgotten Silver
and a blues festival in
Costa Botes: ''What captured me was the illusion films created.''
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
Where are you from?
I was born in Turkey, on a little
island just off Gallipoli. So there s
a New Zealand connection there.
Our family came here in the early
60s, when I was about three.
Where did you live when you
came to Wellington?
In Lyall Bay, then in Newtown.
My parents have since moved to
Miramar. They can t understand
why I like living on a hill in
Why do you like living on a
I m not sure, but when I went
back to my mother s village, I
noticed it was on a hill and it had
a very familiar feel to it.
What was Newtown like
when you were growing up?
It had a reputation as working-
class. I went to Clyde Quay
School, which was very working-
class and ethnically mixed. There
were Pacific Island, Indian,
Chinese, Maori children. It s
funny to think Clyde Quay is now
When did you become
interested in films?
When I was young my parents
would go to the cinema every
Friday and I d go with them. We d
go to The Kinema in Kilbirnie
regardless of what was on. What
captured me was the illusion films
When did you start making
When I was in the sixth form at
Rongotai College. I had a friend,
Brent Crockett, whose father
David Crockett -- would you
believe! -- was a stringer on film
sets. He lent us a Bolex camera --
a wind-up thing. We d pick up
ends of 16mm film and shoot short
films and edit them together.
What did you do when you
I tried to get work with the
National Film Unit. I never got
the job, but did make some good
contacts, so I started a degree at
Victoria. Then a friend at Canter-
bury University said I should go
there because they had a film
course. I didn t get in at first, but
someone dropped out, so I was in.
What was your flim-making
In about 1985. Film-makers
John Maynard and Bridget Ikin
wanted to foster young talent so
asked young directors, including
me, to make local stories into tele-
vision dramas for a series called
About Face. I made The Lamb of
You made Forgotten Silver,
which purportedly told the
story of a forgotten film-
maker. What gave you the
It came from seeing [TV show]
Alternative 3 when I was young.
The programme was fiction, but
pretended to be a current events
show. While watching it I had a
queasy sense something wasn t
right, and as all these outrageous
claims were being made I became
more and more convinced it was a
joke. Everyone talked about it the
next day. Some time later I
thought it would be fun to do
something about a film-maker
and have to make the old film
footage. Peter Jackson got
Didn't you and Peter Jack-
son later apologise for the
I never apologised for the film
and never will. TV news hunted
us down and asked us to explain.
It was frustrating that no-one
gave us credit for writing such a
good story. They just hammered
us for the hoax. People are still
talking about and that s really
You made a documentary
about the Kathmandu Blues
Festival. How did that come
I was approached by [musician]
Mike Garner, who was playing at
the festival. A blues festival in
Nepal sounded like an odd thing,
so there had to be a story in it. I d
always wanted to go there. I like
interesting situations. Next I m
going to Rwanda for a project. And
I went to Churchill, Manitoba
[Canada] to film The Last Dogs of
Hasn't The Last Dogs of
Winter been selected for a
major film festival?
It s been selected for the
Toronto Film Festival, which for
film-makers is huge. Other
directors going there include
Werner Herzog, Joe Berlinger and
Wim Wenders. I hope to meet at
least one of them. Morgan Spur-
lock will be there, too. I met him
when he was in Wellington. He
asked me to dress as stormtrooper
for the premiere of his film about
Comic-Con. I ll go, but dressed in
Where would you like to film
that you haven't been to?
I d like to do something in the
American south. I m a bit of a
blues fan. It would have to be
something about an interesting
character, though. Films about
blues are often replete with
cliches and I want to avoid that.
How was it filming Michael
Morrissey about his manic
depression for Daytime Tiger?
I thought I would start by inter-
viewing him and that would be
the bones of the story. But when I
got to Auckland he started show-
ing off and slipped into a manic
phase, so I went into fly-on-the-
wall mode and filmed it that way.
When you do that, things happen
that you have no control over and
you have no idea how it s going to
turn out. It could have been ugly
and exploitative, but it wasn t. It
turned out to be inspiring. That s
a lot to do with the tone I used,
and there was some humour, too.
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