NZOA Comedy and Drama Catch-Up

A belated TV dramatisation of the Bain family murders led this week’s NZ On Air announcements about the funding agency’s latest commissions.

Black Hands will be a five-part Warner Bros NZ adaptation of the Stuff podcast that chronicles the months leading up to the slaying of five Bain family members 25 years ago in Dunedin.

NZOA is investing $5.2 million into the series, which won’t draw any conclusions about who might have been the killer.

NZOA’s also backing a movie about the 2007 Tuhoe police raids that will air on Three and a second movie about a young woman with Down syndrome that’s destined post-cinema for TVNZ 1.

On the comedy front, Three has renewed Mean Mums and Golden Boy for two more seasons, TVNZ OnDemand has ordered eight more 15-minute episodes of Educators and TVNZ 2 has commissioned a 10-part NZ version of Taskmaster.

Here are the press releases in full:

Telling our stories – unique NZ dramas headed for our screens

A crime that divided the nation, the Tuhoe police raids, and a disabled woman’s struggle to be seen without a label are the subjects of three new dramas heading to local screens, after winning NZ On Air funding.

NZ On Air’s September funding round has supported one new drama series, two new features, and a fresh batch of short films by emerging filmmakers.

The 1994 murder of five members of the Bain family in their suburban Dunedin home will be dramatized over five episodes for a new prime time series on TVNZ 1.

Black Hands, based on a podcast of the same name, will depict the month leading up to the murders through the eyes of the victims and the accused.

Directed by David Stubbs (Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses) working with award-winning producer Robin Scholes, the series will leave it up to viewers to make up their own minds as to who was more likely to have been responsible for the murders.

The 2007 Tuhoe Police raids will be the basis for a fictional action-thriller feature film Muru for Three.

Muru follows the plight of a local cop trapped between opposing sides, and explores themes of race, identity and individual self-worth.

A second feature film casts a young woman with Down Syndrome as the lead character. Poppy, which will screen on TVNZ 1 introduces audiences to a young woman who assumes she is entitled to live her life like everyone else.

Meanwhile, 10 emerging young filmmakers will again be invited to create short films with a sustainability theme for Someday Stories, which continues to provide career-making opportunities in screen content for a new generation.

“It is a huge privilege to be trusted with these stories that reflect back to New Zealand unique parts of our culture, history, and communities,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

“The three new drama projects in this round are as different as you can get from each other, yet each story is important in its own way. We look forward to seeing what the project creators bring to audiences hungry for compelling drama.”

  • Funding details
    Black Hands, 5 x 44 mins, Warner Bros. NZ for TVNZ 1, up to $5,187,160
  • Someday Stories 2020, 6 x 10 mins, Connected Media Trust for Stuff, up to $200,000
  • Muru, 1 x 90 mins, Jawbone Pictures for Three, up to $200,000
  • Poppy, 1 x 90 mins, StellaFilm for TVNZ 1, up to $165,000 (with the NZ Film Commission).

More laugh therapy ordered for New Zealanders

New Zealand audiences have plenty to laugh about, with a resurgence of comedy shows available on local screens.

NZ On Air has funded one new and three returning comedy projects following successful debut seasons this year, providing new opportunities for comedy writers and actors.

Top Kiwi comedians will be pushed to the limits of comic invention in a new prime time series for TVNZ 2.

Taskmaster NZ follows in the footsteps of the hit UK version, which this season featured award-winning NZ comic Rose Matafeo alongside British panellists.

The New Zealand version will set a series of bizarre, tricky and ingenious tasks for five local comedians who are expected to bring the kiwi ‘number eight wire’ approach to delivering results and laughs.

Educators, the improvisational comedy set in a secondary school, will be back for another season of gently poking fun at school systems, after a very successful debut season on TVNZ On Demand.

The two projects selected from last year’s Comedy Pilot week on Three, Mean Mums and Golden Boy, have both found receptive audiences in the first full season, meaning they’ll be back next year.

The family-friendly sitcom Mean Mums celebrates school mums Jess, Heather and Hine in all their crazy, earnest, exhausted glory. It has had strong ratings and positive critical reviews.

Also well-received has been Golden Boy, in which recent graduate Mitch lives in the shadow of her All Black brother Tama, after returning to her hometown to work at the family dairy.

“Added to a growing slate of comedy, the investment over the years in comedy writing and performing talent through the likes of 7 Days, is paying off,” said NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson.

“It’s also encouraging to see strong On Demand audience numbers for this type of content, showing how linear TV is evolving.”

  • Funding details
    Mean Mums 2, 8 x 24 mins, South Pacific Pictures Ltd for Three, up to $1,080,000
  • Golden Boy 2, 8 x 22 mins, Mediaworks for Three, up to $1,034,808
  • Educators 2, 8 x 15 mins, South Pacific Pictures for TVNZ On Demand, up to $999,999
  • Taskmaster NZ, 10 x 44 mins, Kevin & Co for TVNZ 2, up to $734,953.
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