New Zealand Law Society - Raven-loving movie man with a taste for a nice Chianti: Craig Foster

Raven-loving movie man with a taste for a nice Chianti: Craig Foster

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Technology may have taken the romance and mystery from Craig Foster’s cinema projectionist’s skills but he says being part of a “breed that’s now extinct is pretty special…”

Being special includes being one of the first people – as a projectionist – to see The Lord of the Rings world premiere of Return of the King.

Craig Robert (Craig) Foster
Entry to law
Graduated BA, LLB from Victoria University in 2002/03. Admitted in 2004.
Senior Associate at Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts, Lower Hutt.
Speciality area
Family, wills and estates, elder law, criminal law.
Craig Foster
Craig Foster

Describing himself as “a massive movie fan” Craig, who was recently made a Senior Associate at Lower Hutt firm Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts, made his way through university working at a couple of Wellington cinemas, progressing to projectionist and working on for six months after graduating.

“Projectionists changing reels are now literally extinct with the advent of digital cinema – pop in a cassette and press Play,” he says.

“It was a great university job… I did it for three and a half years, including a spell as a foundation staff member at Movielands in Porirua, now Reading…

“I like all sorts of films and comic book related films are a massive interest for me… Spider Man, Batman… Batman is my No 1 interest… The last film I saw was Wonder Woman

“My favourite actors are Tom Hardy and Leonardo di Capprio… His Shutter Island is a cracker film…

“I can go for the empty-headed blockbuster as well as art house types… And I go to film festivals… And have a significant dvd collection… I have a lot of graphic novels – essentially glorified adult comic books which fuel my interest…It’s an abiding passion…”

The highlight of Craig’s movie “career” was working as a projectionist on the 2003 world premiere of Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, in Wellington.

“The gala screening was at the Embassy but the cast and crew had also booked out the entire Reading cinema, where I was working, all ten screens…

“After arriving at the Embassy a lot of the cast and crew went out the back and down to us, where I was in charge of one of cinemas… We had to work through the night to break down the movies…

“The celluloid reels arrived as various smaller reels made into a bigger one… After the showing we had to break down big reels back into smaller ones and give them back to Weta… That meant an overnight shift for three or four of us… Twenty-two and a half hours on shift…

“It was an absolute highlight being one of the first people to see the film… I was on my feet the whole time… An experience to remember…”

Keen to find himself an old film projector, Crain has a film splicer on his desk to remind him of his days in the projection room.

Separated, and with a four-year old daughter Abigail, Craig worked for two and a half years in an estate administration role at the Public Trust after his admission before joining Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts in 2007.

“It’s not easy to juggle my career and my child but I have a good relationship with my ex-wife and we able to be flexible about it… I make as much time for my daughter as I can – she’s a real highlight for me…”

The only lawyer in his family, his mother is a teacher, his father in IT/computer-based training and his younger brother is an electrician in Australia “working in oil and gas in the boondocks and making eye-watering money…”

“There are a lot of teachers and a few school principals floating around in the family…

“I was always drawn to real hands-on law in the family and criminal fields, rather than corporate which is where a lot of my friends and colleagues went…

“It sounds a bit corny but I wanted to have the ability to make a difference at a fundamental level for people…”

Craig is a volunteer at the community law centre and citizens advice bureau in Lower Hutt. He is a member of the Family Law Section and the trusts and estates committee of the New Zealand Law Society.

He says he is keen to get more involved in the family law sphere and has considered working with men’s advocacy groups.

“There is a lot of misinformation about the work we do as family lawyers and being able to provide more information at a grassroots levels holds a great deal of interest for me… And to change some of the misconceptions around the perceived bias that the family court may have one way or the other…

“There is a gender bias perception, favouring women rather than men…  But having done this sort of work for more than a decade that’s not the case… I am looking for an even playing field and to change the perception and misconception that you are always going to get a favourable outcome if you are female…

“I don’t see that the bias is there… I have not seen that bias in operation in the way people perceive it… It would be good as a male working in the family court to change that perception…”

A rugby, basketball and cricket player at school, Craig went a long way to be a basketball referee but just before he started at his current firm he injured a knee, which scuppered his refereeing dream.

He turns out for the firm’s social indoor netball team – “a good collegial exercise” – and the office has “a couple of little trophies floating around somewhere…”

“I’m musical but don’t play instruments…”

Instead, he is trying his hand at writing lyrics – “I’ve done it once, adapting words of an existing song” - which follows on from his great interest in reading and writing poetry.

“I’ve written a number of poems over the years for various reasons, including one for the firm when we had our 20-year anniversary – which was reasonably well received…” He writes poems for special occasions, including funerals, and has a collection from his university days but has never published any.

“Edgar Alan Poe is my favourite, he is the main one for me, his rhythm is appealing and I am working on committing The Raven to memory…”

A fan of Wellington band Shihad, Pittsburg-based Stone Cellar Band, rock and “mild heavy metal,” he’s been known to sing along with anything on the radio, leaning towards Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

“I have a Mazda 6 station wagon and have travelled most of New Zealand but never been outside the country… I’m reserving that for later in life…”

It’s on Craig’s list to visit Oamaru’s famous Steampunk festival.

“I have quite an interest in vintage clothes and like second hand clothes shopping… I like Victoriana, vintagey, style…I have a couple of waistcoats I wear with my suits… One black, one purple… I wear quite bright shirts and ties to make a point of difference from white shirt and blue ties…”

He reads extensively across a range of genres including historical, alternative history, sci-fi and fantasy – “more Star Wars than Star Trek, not that I’m anti-Trekky” - and true crime.

“True crime is a big area of mine… I’m trying to write a true crime novel but I’m not getting very far with it… And poetry, background sports books and basketball stuff in from the States…

“If not a lawyer I would be a movie critic… I follow all the reviews, including ones from fan boys like myself who like the blockbuster more than the Roger Eberts of this world, who are little more high-brow. [American film critic and historian, journalist, screenwriter and author Roger Ebert was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013.]

So who is the best James Bond?

“Daniel Craig would be best Bond… No, Sean Connery, then Craig… You can’t beat the original…

“I look at Bond as a rough and tumble sort of a guy who happens to look good in a dinner suit… The Roger Moores and Pierce Brosnans didn’t quite have the rough and tumble… They were upper crust at the dinner party but getting their hands dirty was not quite in their repertoire…

“Potentially I could be a poet, but I’m not sure I would be that good…”

Craig’s dinner guests would include Edgar Alan Poe – “I’d like to get an idea where he was coming from” - US basketball writer Bill Simmons – “I’ve read his books about 20 times” -  Winston Churchill – “I’ve always admired his take on things” – FBI criminal profiling creator John Douglas – “I’ve read several of his books” – and Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Batman movies.

“I do a bit of cooking and baking from time to time and I like Italian food…”

“And to take the famous phrase from Hannibal “Silence of the Lambs” Lecter, we would eat some liver with a nice Chianti…”

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