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A Tough Act

Price: NZ$52.00

This price is for home use only.
Libraries and institutions etc., price on request.

Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio:
Duration: 10 x 22 mins
Year: 2005
Rating: Exempt

TOUGH ACT is the first series to see inside Toi Whakaari, New Zealand’s top drama school. It follows the 2005 intake of students as they embark on their first year of a three-year acting course.

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For the first time, our cameras follow the lives of the 22 students, all in their early 20s, at the Wellington-based school. Toi Whakaari has a reputation for training some of NZ’s top acting talent, and this is a rare insight into its often unusual methods of turning youngsters into stars.

It all starts with the highly competitive auditions. Hundreds of youngsters from all over NZ, and from all walks of life, apply – but there are only 22 places. While some stand out as having star potential, others clearly don’t make the grade! At the recall weekend, 48 are put through a series of gruelling workshops, as the tutors try to decide who’s got the star quality they’re after.

There’s elation and tears as the final letters go out – some face the bitter disappointment of rejection, but for those who’ve been accepted, it’s a chance to pursue dreams of fame and fortune. As they head for a new life in Wellington, many are leaving home for the first time. Little do they know the tough challenges that lie ahead and that will test them to their limits…

The 22 trainees are a diverse group – there’s a former lawyer, an auto-electrician, a computer programmer, a Sunday school teacher, and two children of well-known actresses. One of the students is hoping to make a fresh start after growing up in an environment of abuse and alcoholism. Another is determined to make the most of a second chance at the school after being kicked out once before.

Our cameras follow them through their first year of training, as these budding stars get to grips with life at the school. As they go through voice, movement, acting and singing classes, the tutors push them hard physically and mentally. But the constant scrutiny proves overwhelming for many, and the students’ inner fears quickly surface. Tensions spring up within the group, as they jostle to prove themselves whilst adjusting to the pressures and extreme tiredness.

In the mid-year assessments, the students are told some brutal home truths. Several are disciplined for laziness and bad behaviour. For many, it’s a big wake-up call – and one student’s future at Toi Whakaari hangs in the balance, as the tutors question whether she really wants to be at the school.

As the year goes on, the intense environment of the school means that the students inevitably form intimate relationships, both as friends and as lovers. And juggling a social life with taking on part-time jobs to pay their way all adds to the pressure. The training also intensifies as the tutors push them to hone their skills as actors.

At the end of the first year, it’s clear that many have changed – physically and emotionally. Some are already starting to look like future stars, and are still excited about their dreams of making it big. But others still have a long way to go of they’re to ultimately succeed in a tough industry that relies on talent, looks – and a lot of luck!

SKU 024012

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A Grasp of Wind

Price: NZ$30.00

The price of $30.00 is for home use only.
Libraries and institutions etc., contact us for further details.

Format: DVD
Duration: 82 minutes including extras
Extras: Interview with Don Long, A Portrait of the Artist and gallery of artwork
Year: 1982

An intriguing, amusing fable of the symbolic interrelationship of creatures and their environment.

A fisherman climbs a hill, and the higher he goes the bigger the fish he encounters. When a demigod with his own face urges him on, and the fish in his sack turn to pigeons, he realises he has entered a mysterious realm – from which only a total metamorphosis will deliver him. . . Not a word is spoken in this slightly surreal short film, which is at once a play on the concept of visual metaphor and an exploration of the logic of dream.

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16 Sleepless Nights

Price: NZ$34.95

This price is for home use only.
Libraries and institutions etc., price on request.

Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 letterbox
Duration: 28 mins
Year: 2007

16 Sleepless Nights explores the relationship between mental illness and creativity by spending time with two successful New Zealand artists who have been affected by various aspects of the disease.

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Rio Hemopo: Rio is a musician, previously of legendary Wellington group TrinityRoots. Now towards the end of recording his first solo album, Rio reflects on his first breakdown, his period in an institution and the positive and negative impact his struggle with mental illness has had upon his friends, family and musical projects.

Charlotte Simmonds: Charlotte is a Wellington based poet/playwright. She was born in 1983. 16 Sleepless Nights follows Charlotte as she puts on a performance of her play, Artic Antarctic. Charlotte talks about her history of manic depression/bi polar disease and what role each stage has played in her ability to write. She talks about the demons her disease has created and about her fear of the broad range of treatment medicines she has taken affecting her talent.

SKU: 034003

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