I’d been apprehensive about going since I found myself chatting to the editor, Abi King-Jones, at the Film Festival gala night.
“Oh I’m probably in that,” I joked, not for one moment suspecting I would be. After all, I’d escaped mention in the play.
“Yes you are,” she replied.
I thought it was a movie, with actors recreating the scenes from Hager’s book.
Naturally I enquired as to which portly, follically-challenged thespian was going to be putting my words in his mouth.
“Cohen Holloway,” said Abi.
I was pleased.
Pleased, because I know Cohen, and he’s better looking than me.
Terrified, because he knows me – and is a savagely brilliant impersonator.
(Think John “Marvellous!” Campbell on Facelift. That’s Cohen.)
I gave him some voice jobs when I owned Padded Sell recording studio and he was a young actor.
Fingers crossed he’d go easy on me for old times sake. (Or, better still, had forgotten my most mimicable mannerisms.)
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. It wasn’t a movie. It was a documentary.
They only used actors to voice the emails. Only one of mine made the cut, so Cohen didn’t have much to say at all.
I came out of it pretty well. Better even than the book, which treated me kindly compared with some others – despite Hager’s shameless rehashing of my poem about Clark, Peters and Muldoon as my ‘epitaph to Don Brash’.
They showed lots of billboards, the Taxathon TVC, even Don’s kind mention-in-despatches on election night.
The main victim, of course, was Don. He was edited to look as foolish as possible, which was clearly (notorious left-wing director) Alister Barry’s aim.
The film confirmed to me how gutsy Don was to say and do the things he did.
He knew he’d be branded a racist, and he knew there was every chance that his more wimpish colleagues would destroy him.
Some on the right say he should have stuck more to his principles. I was one of them.
But when I later worked in his office and saw how fear (or, as they call it, ‘risk aversion’) dripped from the walls, I realised how impossible it was for Don to go boldly where no Nat had gone before.
Barry’s one-eyed account of the 1980s reforms set the tone for what amounted to a 98-minute party political broadcast for Labour and the Greens.
Will it be counted as such?
As I watched footage of Peter Keenan being furtively filmed through the windows of his Wadestown home, I wondered how my own privacy might have been invaded.
After all, my involvement in the campaign had been pretty much kept under wraps, so there would have been no 2005 footage of me in the TV archives.
Again I needn’t have worried that someone was long-lensing me from a boat in the Pauatahanui Inlet. They used a clip of my talk to the ACT conference earlier this year.
Really the producers have to be commended for seeming to have had a camera on every important National Party conversation, public or private.
They got film of Brian Nicolle, Bryan Sinclair, Diane Foreman, Crosby Textor in Sydney.
Murray McCully, Michael Bassett and Dick Allen all did pieces to camera.
Much of it would have been taken from the Hurricane Brash documentary, but by no means all.
Barry’s bias seeped out of every frame, with the sarcastic tone of the voice-overs clearly designed to make the email senders sound as dastardly as possible.
For the life of me, I can’t see what was sinister about most of what was revealed.
It was just normal political goings-on – and far less scandalous than what the Labour and NZ First parties have been getting up to for the last nine years.
But certainly the audience in the Bergman Room at the Paramount swallowed the bait, with hoots of derision in all the right places and most pronouncing it ‘brilliant’.
Clearly The Hollow Men served as a good pick-me-up for the left en-route to their November 8 guillotining.