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Shock Treatment: Hope & Wire

Jul 2, 2014 Film & TV

You find out a huge amount about the psychology of trauma in an earthquake zone. What causes one person to rise above could be another person’s tragedy. There’s a psychological earthquake that follows the physical earthquake and it’s the psychological earthquake I wanted to explore.

I’ve created “story families” in order to tell a larger tale. The central story family was inspired by a photo essay in The Press called “Camp Mother’s Big Adventure”, about a couple who were forced to live in their backyard and reported that they had become healthier and happier. That gave me the inspiration for Len and Joycie, who provide the positive heart of the series. Good storytelling needs a light to shine through the dark.

There are other story families too. Ryan is a digger driver who lives near Bexley with his wife, Donna, and their two little girls. When the earthquakes happen and he finds his skills in demand, he’s making money and doesn’t take seriously that Donna is traumatised. Their tragedy is that one reacts with “flight” and the other with “fight”, and it’s almost irreconcilable.

Meanwhile in Merivale, Ginny lives a very family-focused life with her adored lawyer husband, Jonty, and their two teenage children. When the earthquakes reveal secrets, she’s forced to focus on a much wider world. She discovers strengths she didn’t know she had, and she discovers compassion.

There are a lot of interlocking characters and story threads. People ask if it’s like Treme (set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) and it’s true that if that series hadn’t been made, I don’t think Hope & Wire would have happened. Treme led the way in telling an entertaining story set in a wrecked city. There are similarities — for example, the music; we’ve threaded Lyttelton band The Eastern through Hope & Wire. But the difference is that the earthquakes provide every inciting incident of the drama in our characters’ lives. You can look at anything any character does and see that they would not have done that if it weren’t for the earthquakes.

Hope & Wire: TV3, Thursdays from July 3.


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