"This is New Zealand"
3-strip EXPO Film From New Zealand
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by and reprinted from: Warren
Pix" Magazine. With invaluable help from
Bob Jessopp. Photo's and
Screen Shots courtesy of Archives New Zealand "Te Rua Mahara o te
Scott. Image by Time Cinema Collection
Birth of “THIS IS NEW ZEALAND”
The late Geoff Scott was manager of the National Film Unit at the time
"This Is New Zealand" was produced. He had seen a multi-screen
presentation at a previous Expo exhibition in Canada using 70mm film.
With an approaching Expo in 1970 this time in Japan, he was determined
to showcase New Zealand to the world, using the medium he loved. The
following, is a transcript of part of an interview, he gave Warren Smyth
8 years ago.
W.S. In the late sixties there was a need to promote New Zealand’s
products overseas at Expo in Osaka, tell me about the idea that you had
for a very special film presentation.
G.S. Initially, we didn’t have permission to make a film at all. I
suggested to the Industries and Commerce Dept., who were principally
responsible for making New Zealand’s exhibition a success, that they
should have a film and they said “No we don’t want a film”. There was to
be a pavilion consisting of four main modules at Expo Osaka. I said “I’d
like the one on the corner to put a film in” and the Ministry of
Commerce said “Oh no, that’s reserved for the Dairy Board or the Meat
I said “I can give people a better idea of New Zealand in twenty minutes
looking at a film, than can be done looking at bits and pieces” (The
dairy Board had proposed having a series of static displays with a model
of a cow). Settling the argument, J. Marshall, then Minister for
Industries and Commerce and of Tourist and Publicity, finally called a
meeting turning to me he said “Geoff, can you make a film for Osaka, a
good one. You’ve got us out of trouble in the past when we’ve wanted
publicity, can you do it”? and I said, “Yes, I think I can”.
He turned to
the Industries and Commerce people and said, “I think we should have a
film”. Industries and Commerce, who had been opposing me, then became
most co-operative and most helpful. I was conscious that the Japanese
were good cinematographers and very colour conscious. There was more
film shot in Japan at that time than any other country in the world. The
Film had to be spectacular and I couldn’t afford 70mm film. That would
have cost a million dollars to shoot, so I decided to use a three screen
presentation. Using three cameras and projectors to project three images
side by side, you could use either of the three screens for separate
images, or the whole three to open out into a terrific panorama. Three
35mm films gave 105mm of film surface width, instead of 35mm, so the
resolution and quality of reproduction would be tremendous.
in 70mm reading:
2009, Bradford, England
37th Wellington Film Festival
See a clip from the film
Bob Jessopp: I have decided to have a print run of the programme done
(100) and bring with me. Hopefully I can find enough people interested to
cover cost of Run. This has interviews with the Director, the Producers and
people that worked on the filming and projection, plus photos etc. Quite a
Perhaps you could advise they are available at the meeting. Sounds like I'm
not the only film buff that works till all ours.
Bob Jessopp: I had organised clearance for this from the National Film
Archives through a friend and I believe Bill Lawrence was looking after
this. It has now been put onto single 35mm film and looks mighty. I saw it
projected onto a 100ft screen and it had people in the audience in tears. I
kid you not. I am sure if you do screen it you will not be disappointed.
Screened at the
Widescreen Weekend 2009, Bradford, England
film unit’s staff were the first to react. They said, “You can’t do it,
it will never work” I said “It will work all right, I’ve made an
agreement to produce this and take it to Japan and I’m going to do it”.
I got the cameraman and Hugh Macdonald in and I said “ Hugh, you are
going to be the director of this, you write a script” I wrote a script
for it that came very close to the final result, but Hugh doctored it
up. He produced this thing with Kell Fowler, chief cameraman and Sam
Grau (from Barcelona) as well as all the other cameramen.
in behind it. We had to go through a lot of growing pains. The sound
dept. did a wonderful job with Claude Wickstead in charge. We had three
magnetic sound tracks operating with multiple speakers. Everyone was
astounded when we had a preview screening at the film Unit. Muldoon came
I said “Well you’re the Minister of Finance, it’s come within
budget” He said “I don’t believe it, I wouldn’t have minded if it had
gone over a bit, I’m astounded”. Marshall at the end was in tears with
emotion, as were others. We drew plans for the construction and sent a
crew over to Osaka to install the equipment with Mc Ashley as manager.
W.S. How did the Japanese receive it?
G.S. They presented 21 sessions every day. One and a half million people
saw it and "This Is New Zealand" was the star attraction at Expo 70.
27 Feb 2009
Thanks for "This is New Zealand"
Saw this in Auckland at the Embassy Theatre which was specially
reconstructed for the projectors, it was a big hit and reminded me of the
earlier Cinerama. Thanks
28 Feb 2009
Just had a look at the website. You have done a lovely job, thank you so
much. You have really gone the extra mile. People here are going to be so
on image to see enlargement
Jack Marshall wanted it run in NZ?
G.S. Yes this was a problem. We were planning to run it in the USA as we
needed more tourism from there. Jack Marshall said, “No Geoff, I want it
brought back to New Zealand, New Zealanders must have the opportunity of
seeing this” I Said,” How are you going to do that”? He said “I don’t know,
that’s your job and you do it! Bring it back and exhibit it in New Zealand”.
Now this was a problem because no theatre projection box in New Zealand
could accommodate four machines (Including the Sound Unit) but eventually I
went up to Kerridge (Owner of the cinema chain Kerridge Odeon) and said “Can
you give me the Embassy theatre in Wellington for a couple of weeks, while I
get rid of this headache? The embassy has got the widest screen and I can
put equipment on the ground floor” We couldn’t screen it at 2pm and 8pm
because of theatre contractual obligations, so I decided that we would
screen it at 11;, 12, 1 and then 5, 6, and 7pm. Screenings’ were added at 9
and 10pm to accommodate school groups and booked busloads of people from the
Lower Hutt area. Kerridge said “You’ll never get anyone to come out at those
times. It won’t work” and I said, “Further more, we will charge 20c and 40c
that’s all” He said “Good gracious me, you’ll never make any money”.
How was it received in NZ?
G.S. Well, the reception at the Embassy was amazing. It opened to crowds
waiting in queues all the way up Kent Terrace. The Theatre was full, and the
next session was full, with people waiting. The 5, 6 and 7pm sessions were
also full and it ran, instead of an expected couple of weeks, thirteen
With screenings increasing to eight per day, six days a week. The money that
was taken paid for the total production cost in the one theatre-never been
done to my knowledge. The film had a fantastic reception, largely due to the
Listener editor who was overwhelmed by it and who gave us great big spreads.
The enthusiasm of reporters and editors of newspaper also gave it a great
We took it to the Odeon Christchurch were it continued it’s success, with
ten screenings a day, and then, on to a sensational reception in Dunedin.
The show then went to the Embassy in Auckland, where four rows of seats had
to be pulled out, for the construction of a wide projection box. This was
the most difficult New Zealand location of all.
About "This is New Zealand"
From 37th Wellington Film Festival web site: Director: Hugh Macdonald.
Year: 1969. Running time: 58 mins. NZ. Screenplay/Editors: Hugh
Macdonald, David Jordan. Associate directors: David Jordan, Rob Ritchie.
Producer: David H. Fowler.
Executive producer: Geoffrey Scott. Photography: Kell Fowler, Murray Creed, Sam Grau.
Camera assistant: Rob Wright. Location sound: Kit Rollings, Brian Shennan, Noel Sheridan.
Sound editing and mixing: Kit Rollings. Associate mixer: Ron Skelley.
CinemaScope on the flat screen. Digital restoration by: Archives New Zealand and Park Road Post
When Britain joined the Common Market in 1969, New Zealand suddenly had to
start promoting itself to the world, in order to develop alternative markets
for our goods. One of the ways it did so was to take part in Expo 70, in
Osaka, Japan. The star attraction at that event was a revolutionary
20-minute film made by the National Film Unit that introduced viewers to New
Zealand in a glorious three-screen (and three-camera) presentation. With
highly inventive camera work and editing, it showed everyone where we are,
who we are, and - taking advantage of the super-widescreen format - what a
spectacularly beautiful land we live in. The film was seen by more than two
million people at Expo 70, and by 350,000 more when it returned home
afterwards. Hidden from view since that time, this landmark film has been
given a stunning restoration by Archives New Zealand and Park Road Post, and
it looks - and sounds (now in 5.1 digital) - better than it ever has before.
Restoration - 3 February 2007 Media statement
Hon Judith Tizard, Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand. 3 February
2007 Media statement
New York Film Award for "This is New Zealand". The film made for Expo 70 in Japan,
"This Is New Zealand", remastered by
Archives New Zealand has won a prestigious award at the New York Festivals
Film and Video Competition, Archives Minister Judith Tizard announced today.
"I'm delighted that the film took out a Bronze World Medal in the festival’s
special venue film section at tonight’s ceremony in New York,” says Judith
Tizard. "Rosemary Banks, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Nations
accepted the award on our behalf. “This award is a great credit to all those
involved in both the making and recent remastering of the film. “Made by the
National Film Unit for the New Zealand Commission promotion at Expo ’70 in
Osaka, the original This is New Zealand has not been available for public
viewing for over 30 years because three projectors were required to screen
Archives New Zealand has restored and remastered the film at Wellington's
Park Road Post Production facility so the three images can now be screened
using one projector. The process used was digital intermediate where the
original film is scanned, digitally manipulated and then put back on to
film. The film is also available digitally.
“Previous attempts to create a combined film image using traditional optical
methods suffered a severe drop in quality when combining three images into
one. “We brought back the original director, Hugh Macdonald, who helped
oversee the digital intermediate process. Kit Rollings, the original sound
mixer, also worked on the new sound track." Judith Tizard said the film was
seen by 2 million people during its time at the Osaka Expo’70 and on its
return home it was seen by nearly 25% of adult New Zealanders. “Having the
film re-mastered is a great preservation success and as a result New
Zealanders can see the film following the official New Zealand premiere in
- top - back issues
- news index