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How Duckrockers recreated the notorious 1984 Queen Road riot

Oscar Kightley confronted loads of obstacles making the Sione’s Wedding ceremony prequel. The largest? Recreating the scene of a DD Smash live performance that turned violent.

YoIn December 1984, a live performance referred to as Thank God It is Over! was held in Auckland’s Aotea Sq. to mark the tip of the educational yr. Headlined by DD Smash, the free afternoon present erupted in violence when the band’s frontman Dave Dobbyn noticed the cops and reportedly instructed the gang: “I want these riot squad guys would cease wanking and put their little batons away.”

Outlets had been looted. Home windows had been smashed. A automotive was overturned. Fires had been lit. Blood was spilled.

Watching this chaos unfold from the West Auckland suburb of Te Atatū was a teenage Oscar Kightley. “I keep in mind being at residence watching TV and immediately there was this eyewitness newsflash,” says the veteran native actor, author and director. “I used to be agog, looking at what was unfolding… it was insane. Folks throwing shit by large plate glass home windows, operating in and serving to themselves to no matter, operating off up Queen Road. I will always remember that day.”

It is this second that Kightley selected to start his new present Duckrockers, a TV prequel to his hit 2006 movie Sione’s Wedding ceremony. The thought for a 3rd movie after 2012’s Sione’s 2: Unfinished Enterprise had been kicking round for some time when South Pacific Footage boss Andrew Szusterman steered Kightley and co-writer James Griffin flip their prequel desires right into a TV present. Kightley agreed and with $4.3 million of NZ on Air funding secured, the pair started writing and producing the present, spending a number of months filming it earlier this yr.

An origin story targeted on the 80s upbringing of Siones Wedding ceremony’s core characters, a lot of Duckrockers is drawn from the Samoan-born Kightley’s real-life upbringing in West Auckland. Getting the markers of that point interval right – from haircuts to names, garments and slang – was extremely necessary. “We wished to be actually particular with it,” says Kightley. It was a time when video video games had been performed in fish and chip retailers and speaking to folks on the cellphone was by a landline within the hallway. “The viewers may have a visceral reference to that stuff in the event you actually get it proper.”

Oscar Kightley and the solid of the unique Sione’s Wedding ceremony movie in 2006.

In actual life, Kightley was too younger to attend the notorious Aotea Sq. live performance. However within the first episode of Duckrockers, the present’s core group of 4 teenagers – that is Sefa, Stanley, Michael and Albert for individuals who do not keep in mind the movies – sneak onto a close-by rooftop to benefit from the present, and style their first beer. Kightley and Griffin hold the posters and placement the identical, however rewrite historical past barely when the riots are sparked not by Dave Dobbyn saying “wanking” however by the 4 youngsters throwing a beer bottle from the highest of a close-by data heart into the gang.

It was a enjoyable thought, however filming these scenes grew to become among the hardest of the complete shoot. “That was an enormous day,” admits Kightley. “It was our greatest extras day… we had 20 minutes to movie this enormous scene.” He and his crew pulled it off by constructing faux platforms and filming from low angles, then mixing within the still-shocking footage from the precise riot. The outcomes, seen within the first episode of Duckrockers, which premieres Wednesday on TVNZ 2 and TVNZ+, are as near actuality as they may get.

Discovering the suitable solid was essential to creating Duckrockers successful. (Picture: Equipped)

“We all the time thought it could be a problem to recreate it,” Kightley says, however it was necessary to start out his coming-of-age story right here, as a result of it was a second of change in Aotearoa. “We went from a spot the place we trusted everybody to behave themselves and have a drink in public to be fairly educated about how we’d rise up to mischief if the chance was there. It was fairly a milestone day in our historical past and our evolution as a rustic… we knew that is how we wished to deal with this story.”

Recreating a well-known riot wasn’t the one downside the Duckrockers crew confronted. Chemistry was key to the success of Sione’s Wedding ceremony, with the solid of Kightley, Robbie Magasiva, Shimpal Lelisi and Iaheto Ah Hello already pals and members of the comedy troupe Bare Samoans nicely earlier than filming started. In consequence, their gags and easy camaraderie oozed off the display.

Discovering the suitable actors to recreate the movie’s loveable gang might make or break the prequel. Kightley knew the solid wanted to gel, however he rejected the same old TV method of hiring actors of their 20s and located real-life youngsters for the roles. “Tthis is an actual innocence you may have if you’re genuinely an adolescent,” he says.

The chosen 4 – brothers Levi and Augustino Ieremia-Seulu, plus Duane Evans Jr and Dallas Halavaka – are aged between 14-18 and all nonetheless at college. Other than the brothers, they had been additionally all strangers to one another, however weeks of rigorous rehearsals helped them bond shortly. “Due to the stress, due to the expectation, they’re actually tight.”

The younger solid of Duckrockers in a dance battle in Grey Lynn Park. (Picture: Equipped)

In addition they wanted to have the ability to dance. Duckrockers is filled with “bopping” sequences because the boys kind a breakdancing crew and start going through up in opposition to a extra practiced native crew. Whereas Kightley says he is by no means been in a position to dance, breakdancing was an enormous factor throughout his childhood. A few of the solid had been so good they needed to try to unlearn a few of their tips to make them look extra like learners.

The opposite problem making a TV present in 2022? Covid. On a sunny however chilly day in Could, the solid and crew had been exterior filming a bopping battle in Grey Lynn park. Dozens of actors had been gathered round a cardboard mat mendacity on a basketball courtroom with ghetto blasters scattered round. Nearby, an 80s police automotive was prepared to hurry onto the courtroom to interrupt up a looming struggle. “Can we get on with the flipping battle?” yelled the opposition because the Duckrockers made their acquainted hand gestures and “quack quack” name indicators.

Oscar Kighley on the set of Duckrockers together with his younger solid. (Picture: Equipped)

Laughing behind the monitor was Kightley. Everybody was masked besides the actors, and Covid breaks grew to become a daily prevalence through the shoot. “We misplaced actors, digital camera crew. By some means we managed to soldier on,” he says. “Our protocols hung tight.”

However he could not disguise his delight at seeing his childhood depicted on display. “It was a particular type of innocence,” he says. “New Zealand was a extra harmless nation again then. Have a look at the TV, stuff like Prime City, the entire household would sit down to look at that. I could not think about that now.”

He is hoping many do certainly sit down to look at Wednesday night time’s debut of Duckrockers. Like Sione’s Wedding ceremony and Bro ‘City, Kightley’s happy he is managed to get faces similar to his on native screens once more. “There’s by no means been a present like this… about brown youngsters. I can not keep in mind one,” he says. “We acquired to make one. This can be a enormous deal for our neighborhood.”

Duckrockers airs on TVNZ 2 and TVNZ+ from Wednesday.

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