NZIFF Q&A: Michael Smither: Of Crimson Joy

The ninth in a series of ten annual documentaries, Tony Hiles’ Michael Smither: Of Crimson Joy plays in Wellington at the NZ International Film Festival.

FLICKS: Please summarise your film in EXACTLY ten words.

TONY HILES: This episode prepares dramatically for the resolution by episode ten.

Nine instalments later, how do you feel about undertaking this annual episodic documentary project?

There were a few cynics who nodded wisely and waited to see us fail. They overlooked the fact that Michael and I had already made two independent TV documentaries together in the ’80s. New technology allowed greater opportunities.

Do you think you have evolved as a filmmaker over the duration?

I made my first film (a short) for TV in 1966. I have been evolving ever since. Every film is a step forward in the learning process – if you’re lucky. I’m lucky.

What advantages or disadvantages have you encountered making a series of documentary features as opposed to, say, spending a couple of years on one film?

In my career, I have done everything from feature films to live TV game-shows and everything in between. Each and every one was a commitment with a deadline. Every film is a new film, each with its unique qualities, advantages and disadvantages.

You must be able to see the finish line beginning to come into view now, what is that like?

Haha! Nice. Very nice. Too early to relax though. Number ten must be special.

How has your relationship with Michael changed because of the filmmaking process, do you think?

In my opinion, it has confirmed a lot of things that we already knew. It’s strengthened our friendship, strengthened our respect for each other, and given us mutual pleasure when each episode has kissed the silver screen!

What do you think it would be like to watch having not seen any of the previous instalments?

A bit like opening a box of delicious lollies, each with their unique flavour, all of them chocolate based.

What was the last great film you experienced?

Isle of Dogs.