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Surviving footage of NZ's first talkie feature.

0 ft. “Stewart Pitt presents New Zealand's first talkie. Down on the Farm Associate producers Lee Hill & Stewart Pitt”.
2 ft. Brief shot of map of NZ. Champion bull paraded past.
7 ft. 4 adults and 2 children outside house.
8 ft. Man walks across paddock whistling. 2 takes.
37 ft. same man.
40 ft. man yells for Cook at back door, sells her an Art Union ticket. Talks with woman outside, embraces, Art Union ticket conversation.
121 ft. 2 takes. milking cow, whistling, band strikes up.
171 ft. Pan across to film crew member (sound?) 2 men.
173 ft. man sings & dances. 'Down on the Farm' - song.
231 ft. Outside store 2 takes comes along singing with ukulele. Shopkeeper says all Art Union tickets are sold.
270 ft. wrestling match - various shots of audience - eg. Major, children, despondent man in hat.
413 ft. Couple in garden approach sundial, woman sits on it.
433 ft. End.

Shot on location in and around Dunedin, the film centres around two rival farmers, who must resolve their differences when their children “form friendships which ripen into love”. Down On the Farm was produced by Stewart Pitt, manager of the Empire De Luxe, and Lee Hill, who was also the cameraman. A large, enthusiastic cast of local actors volunteered their weekends for the duration of filming. Sidney Lock, Gwenda Burt, Erana Newbold and Daphne Murdoch played the lead roles, supported by members of the Dunedin Operatic and Dramatic Society. One of the child actors, Ra Hould, went on to a successful career in Hollywood.

It premiered to the public on May 2, 1935. “You are in for a rollicking night’s fun!” promised the Empire De Luxe Theatre in the Otago Daily Times.” See the funniest razzling match ever screened: the Cockney Killer vs the Woodside Terror. See the Outram Show. See the beautiful double wedding”.

Although DOWN ON THE FARM was distributed throughout New Zealand, the Hanmer Nine syndicate of businessmen who had financed the film, received no dividends, due to poor returns.

In 1937 the film was taken to England, where it was unsuccessful in securing a release and panned by critics. “The dialogue is a joke” complained the Cine Weekly, “the acting amateurish and the photography poor. After this our colonial cousins will be well advised to restrict their exports to mutton”.

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Year 1935

Reference number F8303

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Feature

Duration 0:04:48

Production company Stewart Pitt

Credits Cast: J.S. Deek
Cast: Herbert Nelson
Cast: Sidney Lock
Cast: Gwenda Burt
Cast: Erana Newbold
Cast: Daphne Murdoch
Cast: Ronald Sinclair (aka Ra Hould)
Associate Producer: Lee M. Hill
Associate Producer: Stewart Pitt
Sound: Jack Welsh

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