Number 33 Autumn 2002
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John O'Shea 1920 - 2001

Tony Williams

I began working for John O'Shea in the late 1950's. Television had hardly raised its head. The staple contract for Pacific Films at the time was to represent Australia's Movietone News in New Zealand - plus the occasional sponsored documentary and Road Safety film. It was a time when New Zealanders who worked in films were considered mad, batty or just weird backyard celluloid tinkers with screwdrivers. John O'Shea was ahead of his time - and remained so. He taught us batty film buffs about cinema - we went to his home to study Eisenstein, Cocteau, and Renoir - projected onto a sheet form an ancient 16mm Bell and Howell projector. We battled Wellington gales in our duffel coats to see the latest New Wave film at the Paramount - Bergman, Resnais, Antonioni - just so we could keep up with John's tearoom seminars each morning at Pacific Films.

Read this article in full at the New Zealand Film Archive website

Jonathan Dennis

Now we've lost John O'Shea - the last great hero of New Zealand film making who for 50 years has been nourishing, supporting and sustaining our local film industry.

John's first close encounter with the cinema came in the mid-1930's when, stretching convalescence from a minor sporting injury from two weeks to a year, he was able to skip Friday afternoon drill with school cadets and sneak off to the local 'pitcher' theatre, the Majestic or the Regent in Wanganui. This he was led to believe was a stepping-stone to doom and damnation.

Read this article in full at the New Zealand Film Archive website

Barry Barclay

Did John O'Shea do much for Maori filmmaking? Of course, he did. His having fought so hard, side by side with Tama Poata, to get Ngati funded and onto the screen in the spirit in which it was made would alone have been enough to secure him a lasting place on the roll of honour. I remember, as well, a number of much less public milestones. One has to do with the edit in 1974 of the first programme in the Tangata Whenua series, The Spirits and Times Will Teach.

Read this article in full at the New Zealand Film Archive website

Gaylene Preston

I nearly missed the Pacific experience. I walked in off the street into the old bakery at Kilbirnie, just as the industry was freelancing and television had gone in-house leaving the few existing independent companies high and dry and scurrying for commercials. John asked me to join Pacific Films as their new art director form London. I had come from a few years living in England sure, but I had been working in a psychiatric hospital. John considered this "p-perfect training". And it was. I felt like I had arrived in the equivalent of Walt Disney's Garage.

Read this article in full at the New Zealand Film Archive website