Production industry farewells celebrated director John Day

Well-known director and cinematographer John Day has passed away while travelling with family and friends in India. 

His career spanned more than 30 years and included TV series, documentaries, movies, music videos and a number of TVCs, including one classic for the Census that was shot by Saatchi & Saatchi Christchurch in 1990 and featured Billy T James as the frontman. According to Mad, he also made ads for Montana, Farmers, AMP and Interislander. 

According to his biography on NZ on Screen, Day got his first job as a cameraman in 1968 at the NZ Broadcasting Corporation. He then went on to work on a number of movies, such as Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Goodbye Pork Piebefore setting up Matte-Box Films in 1980.

There he produced and directed many award-winning commercials and the video for Peking Man hit ‘Room that Echoes’. Alongside Lee Tamahori, he co-directed the Herbs documentary The Power Of Music – Te Kaha o Te Waiata, which won a Special Jury Peace Prize at a documentary festival in France. Their footage also resulted in the music video for Herbs classic ‘Sensitive to a Smile’. 

In 1990 his company merged with Flying Fish and his team started working with Tamahori, Gregor Nicholas and producer Brian Kassler. 

The same year he completed his first feature as director, The Returning (he also co-wrote the script with Arthur Baysting). 

In 1994 Day was contracted to Australian film company Texas Films to direct and produce TV commercials. After a couple of years overseas Day returned home and established the company ‘jd director’. And he then spent 13 months as a camera operator on the main unit of The Lord Of The Rings

The Flying Fish family posted a tribute on its Facebook page: “Farewell and rest in peace John Day. You will certainly be missed. Thank you for your contribution, your inspiration, your determination and for your outstanding sense of humour and optimism on life generally. You touched a lot of people in some way or another on any given day. There will be many memories stored away and never forgotten.”

Check out a few more of his ads here

His funeral will be held on Monday, 19 January, at 2pm at the Grey Lynn Library Hall, 474 Great North Road. 

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