Dale Bradley began producing television programmes with his brother Grant in the 80s, before making his big-screen directing debut with Gallipoli tale Chunuk Bair. He went on to direct another five feature-length productions in New Zealand, and has had producing roles on dozens more.
These days Dale is Head of Creative and Production at company Aristos Films (formerly Limelight International), with his brother commanding finance and marketing. The two develop and finance screen projects from offices in Brisbane, Auckland and the United Kingdom.
Born in Dargaville, the Bradley brothers grew up partly in New Zealand, then in Canada. After returning to New Zealand they set up a chain of Auckland music stores. Alongside varied sales jobs, Dale also spent time producing award-winning radio show Reflections, and dabbled in theatre.
His first screen project came about after successfully pitching a documentary idea to TVNZ’s Rod Cornelius. The result was half-hour documentary Defeated Enemy, about preparations for death. By the mid 80s the brothers were producing a number of television shows, including kidult adventure Hotshotz, which sold to 25 territories, and the big-budget Sir Edmund Hillary's World of Adventure, which screened on America’s Discovery Channel
In 1990 Dale wrote and directed Nikki: A Young Champion for TV3. The documentary followed Nikki Jenkins to a gymnastics competition in Moscow, soon after winning a Commonwealth Gold Medal.
The Bradley’s first feature as producers was Chill Factor in 1988. Made with a combination of US and NZ cash, the thriller was 70 per cent shot down under. In the same period the brothers Bradley launched Impact Television, which provided production facilities to TV3 at least until the new channel ran into financial problems. Dale also produced Kia Ora Bonjour for Impact; hosted by Sir Howard Morrison and directed by George Andrews, the 90-minute documentary explored relationships between New Zealand and the French.
In 1990 the Bradleys launched Daybreak Pictures (aka Daybreak Pacific). Though the company would make its share of corporate videos and commercials, features and feature-length projects soon became its raison d’être.
The first official Daybreak feature was 1991’s Chunuk Bair, based on acclaimed Maurice Shadbolt play Once on Chunuk Bair. This depiction of a national identity-forming moment amidst the futile World War I campaign in Turkey was nominated for NZ Fllm Awards for Best Film, and Bradley for best director.
Later Daybreak won funding for the hour-long Repeat Performance from a distributor in Minneapolis. Though a rare film directed by Dale to have a strongly religious theme, in other ways Repeat Performance set the tone for future productions: films unashamedly commercial in bent, developed for specific markets and audiences, with the scripts developed in cooperation with the companies who were selling each film.
As well as directing each title, Bradley wrote the scripts for Lost Valley, Wild Blue and TV movie Terror Peak. Two were action adventures featuring American protagonists caught up in drama in New Zealand; Wild Blue was a romance, with Kiwi actor Nicola Murphy (Magik and Rose) playing a solo mother falling for a visiting American topdressing pilot (Beverly Hills Cop’s Judge Reinhold).
Perhaps the most ambitious film Bradley directed in this period was Kids World (2001), one of a number of Daybreak films aimed at a younger audience. Set in a universe in which children find a way to make their parents disappear, the film’s juvenile-dominated cast includes an award-winning performance by Kiwi Olivia Tennet (Shortland Street).
Since 2003 Dale Bradley has done less directing, instead concentrating largely on developing and producing. In 2008 the Bradleys relaunched themselves in Queensland Australia. Their busy slate of films ranges across many budgets, and includes Absolute Deception, with Cuba Gooding Jr starring as an FBI agent down under, and Dale Bradley-directed thriller at sea, Undertow. The Bradleys were also part of the multi-national producing team on globetrotting romance The Lovers. Directed by Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields) and shot under the title Singularity, the time travel tale features Josh Hartnett and Simone Kessell.