Story: Feature film

Sleeping dogs, 1977

Sleeping dogs, 1977

Roger Donaldson's powerful action thriller Sleeping dogs was a landmark in New Zealand cinema when it premiered in 1977. The film launched the acting career of its star, Sam Neill, previously a novice director with the National Film Unit, who went on to an international career. His co-star, Ian Mune, who also co-wrote the film script, adapted from C. K. Stead's novel Smith's dream, later became a noted film director. The director of Sleeping dogs, Roger Donaldson, had learned his craft making television commercials. Funding a feature proved so demanding that Donaldson once gave the entire cast and crew an unexpected two-day break in the middle of shooting. He then went and made a television advertisement to ensure that everyone got paid that week. 

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-E-CINEMA-1977-01

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Courtesy of New Zealand Film Commission

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How to cite this page:

Helen Martin, 'Feature film - The 1970s film renaissance', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 5 December 2023)

Story by Helen Martin, published 22 Oct 2014