The Gathering 97/98 documentary

The Gathering 97/98 documentary

40-minute documentary, shot on BetaSP, SVHS and Super8.

Working dates: December 1997 - October 1998

Two weeks before the start of The Gathering 97/98, I decided to make a documentary of the event. It would never have been made had I not bumped into my old friend Kylie Plunkett. She took the idea and ran with it - and made it happen, spending many hours of her own time editing it after the event. The documentary cost under $1,000 to make.

We put together a team of friends who worked in TV and film, persuaded Rocket Rentals to give us a Beta SP camera for 2 weeks, and I produced the documentary, which premiered at the Wellington Short Film Fringe Festival the following July, to a packed house - the first in the Festival's history.

After the premiere there was demand from Gatherers across the country to see the movie. I organised an independent tour, and the documentary played to packed houses in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson (as part of the Nelson Cultural Tourism Symposium). I spoke at each screening, covering all aspects of the movie and of The Gathering itself. It was a very effective communication tool - and great to get such positive feedback!

true pioneers! the gatherings were some of the best festivals in the world at the time. and still i feel that there was something super special that was happening at the gathering missing from major festivals around the world today. big ups to the golden days of outdoor festivals in new zealand.

oscar allison, comment on The Gathering documentary on YouTube

My roles included:

  • Producer
  • Assistant editor
  • Film tour organiser

My responsibilities included:

  • Producing The Gathering documentary, including sourcing the crew and equipment:
    • Beta SP camera - Rocket Rentals
    • Offline editing facilities - The Dub Shop
    • Online editing facilities - The Gibson Group
    • Sound editing facilities - Marmalade Audio
  • Rapidly bringing together a film crew, and motivating them to work for free
  • Bringing together a post-production team, and motivating them to work for free, using facilities to which they had access - also for free
  • Assisting the director, Kylie Plunkett (who went on to become a camera trainee/loader on the Lord of The Rings trilogy) to do the first rough edits of the documentary
  • Organising and promoting the national tour of the documentary
  • Managing the online sales of The Gathering documentary video via the website. We sold out of our original run of 200 copies, and were able to pay our crews from the profits, as well as save $2,000 seed funding for the G2000 documentary.
  • The soundtrack included music from some of New Zealand's top electronic artists who had played at The Gathering, sourced and mastered for us by Kog Transmissions in Auckland. Some tracks had been previously released on CD, others were created especially for the film. This collection of Aotearoa electronica was the forerunner of The Gathering CDs, which were created in partnership with Kog Transmissions and released by Universal Music.

The documentary was reviewed in the national press, and on RadioActive, bFM, rdu and RadioOne, and on Havoc! (TV2). We also utilised footage for The Gathering CD TV ads in 1998 and 1999.

The documentary is now part of the New Zealand National Collection at the Film Archive. They also suggested that we take it to some of the overseas film festivals. It was submitted (together with the website - which won a special commendation) to the NZ Peace Foundation Media Peace Awards; and Triangle TV in Auckland and Mainland TV in Nelson screened it in December 1998.

Our footage continued to be utilised substantially in our media coverage, having been used by One Network News, Havoc!, Pulp, TV3 news, TV3's Nightline, JuiceTV, Triangle TV, Mainland TV and Saturn TV.

The documentary was screened by the Film Archive as part of their Singing in the Frame: in the Tracks of the New Zealand Musical Film season, September - October 2004, and our footage has also been featured in the documentary Fantastical Festivals: The Long Summer of Love which was screened in multiple cities by the Film Archive in 2014.