Monday, December 9, 2019

Tim Ward (No Relation)

Tim is a cat I've known for quite a few years - he's the man behind many of the venues I like to drink in. Places like Good Luck and the San Fran Bathhouse in Wellington. The latter venue is probably solely responsible for much of the hearing loss I'm encountering now in my twilight years.

In all that time I have never seen Tim out of sorts, he's always got a smile on his dial this dude. Always embarking on a new challenge. Always on the move. Bouncing round projects like an accelerated particle in a quantum chamber.

Recently I found myself caught up in Tims orbit as he took me on a tour of his latest wonderful endeavour - The Abandoned Brewery. The story behind this project is so Kiwi it hurts. In a nutshell, a chap in the grip of drunken hubris bought himself all the equipment to set up a brewery. Then he lost interest. Tim and his mates discovered this abandoned brewery and decided to make a go of it. I love tales like this. They now supply many places around town with their fine beverages. Tim, more often than not, dropping off a kegs to them in his beaten up (but much-loved) ute. Bars, bowling clubs and select venues all happily stock this uniquely Wellington creation.

This year I attended Beervana and there was Tim with his wonderfully crazy stand (it looked like a cross between a mad scientist's lab and a control room at a Russian power station). I was swaying back and forth holding some generic stout from one of the other stands. Tim took a sip of it and, with an expression that said "I think Nick can do better than this", he tipped it out and replaced it with a glass of the Abandoned Brewery stout. Smooth, velvety and lovingly crafted the difference was day and a very dark stormy night. Tim replaced it with no fuss or fanfare and he didn't even wait for me to say anything but I'll say it now - you could taste the difference and that difference was: someone really cared about this beer.

This was made with love not with an eye on the bottom line.

That's something that's always been true of Tim, while he's very successful in his projects it's not because he's some kind of high-flying businessman, it's simply because he cares about what he does. He never compromises and he does it all with a smile on his face (even though sometimes that face looks very, very tired). Tim is one of those people it's a joy to be around because he makes it all look so easy but still ensures you're smiling as much as he is. There's something we can all learn from that. Next time you're in Wellington seek out a beer from the Abandoned Brewery and you'll see what I mean. Chur Tim you're a GC.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

In Praise of Dave..

Dave Fane is a performer I've worked with many times in the past. He's like a huge bear hug of a man. No just in size but also in mana. He encases you. Overwhelms you. I find myself leaving any encounter with Dave feeling better about not just myself, but about the world.

He's the guy you want to hang out with in the bar. He has the best stories and always listens attentively to yours. That's a rare quality in this day and age.

I can't remember the first time I met Dave but I would like to recount a couple of small encounters to you. These will help give you an insight into the man behind the performer.

One. I was an extra in a TV show. I was hanging around waiting for something to happen and Dave approached me. "Wanna play some chess bro?" I had to confess to him that it was a LONG time since I'd actually played. He patted me on the back and sat me down. He assured me I'd be fine. A short while into the game he looked at me and said "Yep you haven't played in a real long time." He laughed and wiped me off the board. I wasn't anyone important. I was a hapless extra standing around looking gormless but Dave took me under his wing and made me feel welcome.

Two. I bumped into Dave in a bar in Auckland. It was loud. It was dark. It was pumping. Dave saw me and a smile sprung to his face. He wrapped an arm around me and said "I loved your movie mate" Dave, by this time, was an actor who was linked to so many NZ hits like "Sione's Wedding", "Outrageous Fortune" and "Bro Town" - stuff that was cutting edge and subversive. My movie was none of these things. It was a sweet, feel-good story that I was incredibly proud of. It went to number one at the box office. "Second-Hand Wedding". It wasn't "edgy" or "worthy" and, as a result, I got a lot of stick from some of my contemporaries for making something they saw as "lightweight" and "cheesy." Dave didn't, he saw it for what it was. A movie about family. And he said so, it was the first piece of unsolicited, genuine praise I'd had from someone in the industry. "Second-Hand Wedding" was a movie I wrote about my family my mother, father and sister. Dave was so warm and, well so "Dave", I was really moved. I had to nip to the loo to have a little cry.

Three. We were casting for "Fresh Eggs" and the network had rejected everyone we'd put forward to play the roll of Pig. Pig is a pivotal part of the story. He's the monster that shows up and kicks the series into gear. He had to be terrifying. He had to be a bad mofo. We were getting desperate. In the end someone suggested Dave. The network jumped at this. Dave was a "name" that they could use to sell the show. I was happy and then panic set in. Dave - cuddly, loveable Dave? An actor with a high profile from playing funny, likeable characters? Playing a monstrous baddie? A baddie that so much of our series was hinged on? Gulp. Then I saw his performance. I had forgotten that Dave Fane is not just a comedian he's an utterly magnificent actor. He brought both menace and comedy to the character of Pig and helped us nail our first episode. Dave you splendid man, thank you.

I have noticed that Dave has recently been cast in Taika Waititi's up-coming movie "Next Goal Wins" An adaptation of the 2014 documentary that follows the struggles of an American Samoa football team as they go from perennial losers into winners. I'm sure Dave will shine in whatever role he is in but this is proof positive that good things do happen to good people and, if you put in the work into your chosen craft, you will always rise. Dave is, and always has been, a terrific guy to be around but only in the last few years have I realised he's also an inspiration to me. Manuia Dave!

Monday, October 9, 2017

For David

This post is specifically for David Mamea who I only ever see at the NZWG Awards and who always asks me why feck all is happening on my blog. 

So this year I actually presented the awards but due to a terrible venue - who refused to turn down the music from the bar - and the shittiest sound system in christendom no one actually heard a word I said. No problem I'll be able to use the same jokes next year. Also I got a lot of pity drinks brought for me. 

So here's the speech that no one heard...

Fade in.


A bar. 


It’s a salubrious bar. Lit by a half-light. 

A handsome, bearded man stands on the stage his luxuriant salt and pepper hair puts us in mind of a young George Clooney. Before he got all preachy.

The man is sober we get the feeling this is not a regular occurrence which gives us the impression this must be an event of some importance. We will call this man Nick Ward he is, for want of a better word, the hero of this story.  

In front of him is a crowd filled with a motley collection of individuals reminiscent of the bar scene in Star Wars. There are young faces here. Faces filled with hope, yet to have their dreams smashed on the ground in front of them like a ice cream dropped from the hands of a child. 

(There is some faint laughter not as much as I was hoping for but it’s there)

There are other faces too, older faces, impossibly jaded faces. Faces where hope is a distant, distant memory. 

Something is in the air. These characters are perhaps not used to associating so freely with each other. But tonight there exists an uneasy truce. 

They all look expectantly at Nick hoping that he will shut up and get on with it. 

Tension grows. 

They wait. 

And they wait. 

And they wait some more. 

Someone shouts “get on with it” 

Finally he speaks his rich voice reminiscent of honey poured over aged leather. A voice of authority…

Good Evening everyone and welcome to the eighth annual SWANZ. The New Zealand Writers Guild is delighted and honoured to have you all with us this evening, to celebrate and congratulate your works. Writers we salute you!

Since the SWANZ inception many things have changed in our local market, with the introduction and growth of subscription, online and streaming services like Netflix, Lightbox, Hulu and Amazon. Video games now have sweeping story arcs. Broadcast TV still has so much to offer as well. We watch on our laptops on our phones and our watches. In fact we don’t just watch a show any more we binge it. Which makes it even harder for us as writers to get anything done. Personally I’m only still half-way through Twin Peaks because I got distracted by Narcos, Ozark, Rick and Morty and S-Town. Then they went and released Destiny 2! There’s always a lot of talk about how prolific Charles Dickens was - that’s only because all he had to distract him from writing was mutton chops, pickles and ale. 
Viewers have become “eyeballs”, quality scripted material is now “content” and our kiwiness is now called “original” or “unique” selling points.
Still the craft of writing has stayed the same. The magic of creating worlds and characters, no matter what the format, is the gift of the writer to their audience. To entertain, to provoke and to educate. At the guild we want to see the best possible scripts come to life on a screen – no matter how big or how small. 
So tonight, we raise our glasses to the creators, the idea generators, the story magicians, the space jockeys, the skilful ink manipulators the wild-eyed loners licking the electric banana of life… the writers. You lot. Yes you.
Now onto the Awards! This year along with the Trophy, winners of the script awards will also receive the latest version of Final Draft!
First let’s talk business. 
  • These are Our awards, put on for writers and by writers.
  • The scripts were assessed on the quality of the writing only. No consideration was given to budgets, subject matter, director’s vision, genre, box-office or critical success.
  • All judges were either full members of the NZWG or experienced industry practitioners who have shown support and loyalty to NZ writers and to the NZWG. 
  • No employees or members of the Board of any networks or funding organisation such as the NZ Film Commission or NZ On Air were judges or in any way involved in the judging process.
  • We are very grateful to the support of our sponsors: 
    • Final Draft, ATEED - Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, South Pacific Pictures, Filthy Productions and the New Zealand Film Commission.
  • Most importantly, thank you to the judges for their time and effort!
Finalists and guests be prepared; these awards are fast. 
So have you been to the loo? Have you filled your glasses? Have you got your 30 second thank you speech ready? We don’t have music to play you off the stage, but keep in mind there will be a lot of writers out there who will be resentful of you prolonging their chance to get to the free bar.  
So if you’re sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…


Congratulations to all of our SWANZ winners this year.
And thank you again to our sponsors – Final Draft, ATEED – Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, South Pacific Pictures, Filthy Productions and the New Zealand Film Commission 
A final word from NZWG - New Zealand is a small market with unique frustrations and challenges, at the Guild we are working hard, alongside our guild sisters and brothers, to improve our industry. NZWG is part of a bigger global community of writers, and in 2018 we are creating pathways to help our writers become part of that wider community!

NOW… Once more unto the bar dear friends, once more unto the bar.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The ugly truth behind "that" Pepsi Ad.

As you skid, out of control, towards the gaping abyss of a flaming garbage fire you might have pause to think how did it all go so wrong? 

Without fail a raging storm of fecal matter begins with one poor decision. The trouble is, at the time, you can’t see where that first step will inevitably lead you. Like following a trail of MMs into the dripping maw of a slavering failure beast that first choice seems so sweet. 

For instance, a group of people sat around and said you know what’s cool right now? Protesting. Standing up against the man. Everyone is doing that. Counter-culture that’s what the kids love. Then they took that thinking another step further. One more MM on the trail to disaster. 

What if we use protesting to sell our soft drink? 

This is the point where someone needed to stop the train of thought because that bastard was coming off the tracks and it hadn’t even left the station. I can only assume this “idea” came from someone in a position of power surrounded by drones that could only utter variations of the words “Yes, Sir, we love it.” 

That bad idea was soon followed by a succession of dreadful mind spews that included such gems as “Kendall Jenner in a blonde wig” and “An ethnic gentleman playing a musical instrument on a rooftop” and “A woman in a hijab getting angry at a pile of photos” and “A cop accepting a Pepsi rather than spraying pepper in faceholes.”

While everyone around me was reeling back in horror at the Kendall Jenner/Pepsi/Black Lives Don’t Matter clusterbarf I couldn’t stop thinking how on earth did Pepsi ever let this happen? So I started digging, I did what any good detective does. I asked the interwebs. 

Where was the creative genius behind this “ad”? A short time later I arrived at the virtual doorway of “Creators League.” Yep they actually called themselves that. What do we you? We create, because we’re creative. Who are we? We’re a group of people. Toby get the thesaurus and look up “group” - what’s the first word? “League”? That’s it! From this moment on we shall be known as “Creators League.”

They live in a 4,000-square foot content studio in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Whenever the hell a “content studio” is. Soon my trawl through cyberspace turned up the ugly truth about “Creators League” namely it is an agency entirely staffed by puppets. That’s right, puppets., because there’s a corporate hand jammed up right their sock slot.

In May 2016 Pepsi proudly announced the opening of “Creators League,” in the hope it will let marketers, not agencies, sit in the creative driver’s seat. Before this stroke of brilliance, if Pepsi needed to get an edit made to an online film or piece of content, it would involve sending that piece off to an agency, who then in turn would perhaps send it an editor — a process that took, on average two weeks. Nowadays it takes an hour.

Just an hour. Awesome. Not a creative person comes near it. The marketers come up with a thought, something along the lines of; “Hey did you see those Black Lives Matter marches on TV last night? We should tap that.” Then some work experience kids wired to the eyeballs on energy drinks will take out the office camera, shoot it, edit it and put it online. Job done. 

They had removed all the pesky things that stop ideas skidding towards the world like a sledge loaded with TNT and piloted by a masturbating monkey.  Those things were 1) people who would’ve actually taken the time to craft an idea and, more importantly,  2) people who say NO to a bad idea. 

There’s a lesson to be learned here and it’s an old lesson. If you go to a restaurant and order a three star meal then don’t go into the kitchen and tell the chef how to cook it. If you create your own agency and tell them what to do then you will get something that looks like an idea, smells like an idea but dear baby jebus, it will not be an idea. In fact, chances are, it will a very bad idea. Yes it’s an idea you paid half as much for and it was created overnight but will that be worth all the damage it will do to your brand? 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Auctions, "Legal Advice" and Mr Butthurt

I’ve been thinking about my recent brush with Mainfrieght. 

For those of you not up to speed I was auctioning an “artwork” that featured their logo bust into pieces. You’ll find the text for the auction at the bottom of this post. 

The auction ran for just over 24hours. It was on over hundred watch lists with over six and a half thousand views. When Mainfreight decided to shut it down. Now this is where things get interesting.

Did they come after me for pointing out how terrible their service is? Or refute the fact they had smashed all my stuff in the past?


Instead they contacted TradeMe (who were pretty brave letting me auction the thing in the first place at least they have a sense of humour) and made them shut the auction down over an IP issue (that’s Intellectual Property which is basically their logo). That was their only recourse. Interesting. So I’m guessing they had a hurried meeting and set their lawyers on the task. And they reacted in a day. Fast turnaround. From what I know about lawyers I’m guessing that wasn’t cheap. 

When someone reacts so quickly to shut you down you know what that says to me?


The next thing that happened - within 10 minutes of the email I got from TradeMe saying the auction had be shut down - was a phone call, on my cellphone - from the manager I named on this blog. You’ll notice that posting has been removed from here more on that later. 

He informed me in veiled terms he was seeking legal advice because I had named him here on the blog. I’m still worried about naming and shaming him again so for the purposes of this story we’ll call him “Mr Butthurt” When I asked Mr Butthurt “are you guys setting your lawyers on me?” He quickly refuted this by again stating “I’m seeking legal advice.” Because I had named him. Cold chill time. He also went to great lengths to explain to me this was him personally not Mainfreight who would be “seeking legal advice.”

I pointed out to Mr Butthurt that it was my personal blog and I had posted emails he had sent me. Nothing was untrue it was his own words. He went on to point out that the blog was linked to a TradeMe auction with 6,500 views and over 100 watchers… wow he was really paying attention to the auction wasn’t he? He also reminded me that I was the person who’s pervious action had over a million views. He had really done his homework. 

So here’s what I think happened. Mainfreight, knowing someone was exposing their less-than-impressive business practices, had found a sneaky way to shut down the auction - “Everything he’s saying is true but wait a minute he’s using our IP!” I hope that guy got a raise. 

However then there was the sticky subject of my personal blog post. Notoriously difficult to shut down. So they phone up Mr Butthurt and say you tell him to shut it down or - not in these words - you’re going to sue him. Don’t worry we’ll pay your legal bills. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they didn’t threaten to throw him under the train if he didn’t react. 

They did all this in a day. What does that say to you?

I scared them. 

One of the biggest companies in New Zealand was frightened of a hairy bloke sitting in front of his laptop in his underwear. 

They didn’t think to embrace this auction and join in on the fun. Call me and say we’ll buy the thing if you donate the money to a charity. They didn’t look to find a positive spin. They didn’t come out in the media and say we’re going to make things right with this guy and replace all his stuff that we trashed. No they didn’t. Instead they shut me down.


Because if they did if for me they’d have to do it for the hundreds of thousands of other people they’re done this to. I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who have some terrible things to say about Mainfrieght and the same thing keeps coming up again and again. 

They’re bullies. Big, bad bullies. 

Sadly they were successful and I’ve removed my post that named Mr Butthurt however there’s nothing stopping me putting it up again and changing his name to conceal his identity is there. So keep an eye oh for my correspondence with “Mr Butthurt” in the future. 

In the meantime here’s the text from my auction which was cut down just as it was getting up and running…

"A few years ago I shipped my precious possessions from Auckland to Wellington. Imagine my surprise when they arrived and I discovered it looked like they had been attacked by a troop of angry baboons high on rage medication. Not a single object had escaped their primal fury. 

Naturally, I was upset with the company - how was this the “premium” service I paid for? They were utterly indifferent to my pleas. This was because I hadn’t realised what I’d signed up for. They hadn’t taken the happiest moments of my life and trashed them, no, they had taken them and turned them into ART. What a silly sausage I was for not seeing this. I’ve never really understood modern art so it was initially lost on me. 

My priceless heirlooms and irreplaceable objects hadn’t been ruined they had been “deconstructed” like a dessert at a fancy restaurant. I had no right to complain. They had done me a huge favour and their trained rage-monkeys had actually increased the value of my possessions!

Wow what a service! No wonder they’re one of our countries biggest companies. However I have since had a lot difficulty selling the broken detritus they “gifted” to me and I’ve spend years trying to recoup my losses. 

But then I had a brilliant idea! I would use their service to create a new work of art! I created this abstract signage, carefully packaged it (got to give them a challenge right?) and sent it to myself through their company. Originally I thought it might take a few attempts for them to work their magic so I was fully intending to send it back and forth a few times. Amazingly the butter-fingered, jackbooted cave trolls worked their artistic magic on the first attempt.  As you can see. So I dutifully framed the “artwork” and put it up here for your amusement... sorry consideration. 

I have also decided to put a “buy now” price in case some large corporation wanted to shut this auction down early and hang this stunning piece of art in their head office as a constant reminder of their high standards of service. 

If you have any questions I’m here and ready to happily answer them. 

For the story behind this art work please visit my blog."   

I wonder how long it will be before I get another friendly-but-threatening phone call. Or a horses head in my bed.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

So where did my auction go?

Sadly the fun is over. The shipping company in question contacted TradeMe and said my artwork was an IP infringement. This is how Al Capone must've felt when he got done for tax avoidance.

TradeMe have been great about this as they always are. Love those guys.

However as far as the shipping company are concerned they didn't see the humour in the situation. In fact I'm sure any minute now there's going to be a knock on the door from "the boys." I also had a phone call from the individual I named on this blog who said he was taking legal advice. So I've taken down that post and apologised to the man who was responsible for so much misery in my life because, I'm guessing, this caused him a lot of embarrassment at work. Which in truth doesn't make me feel too crash hot about myself. I inadvertently cyber-bullied the dude.

I when I was a kid at school there were these two boys that would pick on me. One of them was almost six foot and they made my life a misery and as a result I've never liked bullies. However when someone is bigger than you sometimes it's best just to avoid eye contact.

I hope you don't think less of me for backing down.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Marcus

I know things move at a glacial pace here at The Wood of Kings. But in my defence I've been waiting to have some good things to post. And I think you'll enjoy this. There's a bit of reading but it's fun.

Quick backstory. I had to park in a parking building and I couldn't find a damn ticket machine anywhere. Believe me I looked. There was a boot but it contained nothing more than some broken chairs and some beer bottles. So I wrote a note and left it inside my windscreen explaining and I included my phone number. Ring me and I'll come and pay.

When I returned to my car I discovered a ticket for $65 waiting for me. I had been there no longer than 45 mins. Strangely enough the only real way to correspond with NZCMS was by mail. How quaint.

So I embarked on a series of letters with Marcus Baker at NZCMS. I decided to start relatively normal. Stating my case and pleading for leniency. I does start pretty dull but stick with us as things progressed I got more and more insane. As you'll see...

So far so grovelling. His reply was beautifully robotic.

However he had made his first mistake. He had engaged with me. Like a commuter who had accidentally made eye contact with a raving hobo on the street. 

Then something great happened Sally also decided to join the correspondence. She's a little firecracker this one. But she didn't figure on my growing friendship with Marcus. 

So I started replying to Sally as well...

Also it was festive season so I decided to send Marcus a card...

Marcus responded in true impersonal form.

The poor chap seems a bit confused I decided to help him out and, in the process, try to further cement our growing personal bond. 

I think this must've struck a nerve with Marcus because he suddenly seemed very keen to shut down our conversation. 

Not so fast mate. So I sent him a letter by registered mail. He was going to have to open this one. 

And I decided to add a personal drawing. 

NZ Post, bless them, tried multiple times to deliver this bundle of joy but sadly it was eventually returned to me. Marcus is a lot more cunning than I thought. A worthy adversary. 

The company doesn't exist. Well played Mr Baker, well played. So I simply popped it in another envelope and sent it away. 

I'm sad to report I haven't heard anything from Marcus since. No doubt pocketed the cash and taken that little hellcat Sally for a passion-filled night on the town. I'll miss him. I guess I just have have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is just that much more drab and empty that they're gone.

I guess I just miss my friend.