Interview: ‘Bill Direen: A Memory of Others’ director Simon Ogston

Following earlier documentaries on Skeptics and Philip Dadson (Sheen of Gold and Philip Dadson: Sonics from Scratch), director Simon Ogston turns his attention to another cult Kiwi figure with Bill Direen: A Memory of Others. We asked Ogston five quick questions about the film as part of our #NZIFFastFive series of Q&As.

Please summarise your film in EXACTLY ten words.

Poetic, cinematic tour of New Zealand’s physical and cultural landscape.

There’s so much about Bill Direen to get across in a documentary. Was it difficult to decide what to include, and how did you crack it?

I made last October’s national tour the central narrative of the film, which freed me from having to attempt a complete or chronological overview of Bill’s career – that would have been a fool’s errand, given his prolific and unpredictable output.

How did making this doco contrast with your Skeptics and Philip Dadson pics?

I was determined to shoot the bulk of the film in the three-week window of the tour, rather than in bits and pieces over a longer period of time.  My previous films have been more historical, interview-based stories – this was an attempt to make something more cinematic and expressive.

When did you first get interested in Bill Direen – and why do you think he doesn’t have more admirers?

I can’t remember when I first heard about Bill, but I’m from Christchurch, which is his hometown.  His name always stuck with me because my paternal grandparents were named Bill and Doreen.  I didn’t seriously start listening to his music until last year – it can be difficult to find, but hopefully this will change when the soundtrack to A Memory of Others is eventually released.

What was the last great film you experienced?

Get Out was memorable fun.

‘Bill Direen: A Memory of Others’ plays at the NZ International Film Festival