Born in Hamilton in 1958, and raised mainly in Auckland, John Ramsay went on to study science at Massey University, before doing extended time overseas. Returning home in the mid 1980s, he learnt about photography and soon fell in love with moving pictures. He began filming a busy diet of documentaries and commercials, and set up camera company Shoot with Simon Moore. Keen on any project involving a plane or helicopter, Ramsay's credits included award-winning documentary Relative Guilt50 Years of Television, and many projects for Māori Television. He passed away on 12 March 2017.

John was one of those unique directors of photography that you could trust implicitly to send off overseas by himself to shoot a job – no matter how challenging. Simon Moore, John Ramsay's business partner at camera company Shoot
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All Talk with Anika Moa - First Episode

2016, Studio Crew - Television

"I like uncovering people and getting them to fess up to **** and to be more real with themselves." So said Anika Moa to TV Guide of her late night Māori TV talk show. In the first episode, the forthright Moa has two Real Housewives of Auckland on the couch. Moa trades laughs with champagne fan Anna Batley Burton, while Gilda Fitzpatrick shows actor Madeleine Sami the high life, and Sami shows her the thug life. There’s giant knitting needles and innuendo; hip hop artist Kings performs hit 'Don’t Worry Bout It', and The Spinoff’s Alex Casey previews Sensing Murder

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 1 - From One Channel to One Hundred

2010, Camera - Television

The opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television travels from an opening night puppet show in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ On Air, Sky and Māori Television). Many of the major players are interviewed. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within the story.

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 2 - The Whole World's Watching

2010, Camera - Television

The birth of television in the 1960s meant that suddenly protests and civil unrest could be broadcast directly into Kiwi homes. This episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television looks at many of those events — involving everything from the Vietnam War and the Springbok tour, to Bastion Point and the Homosexual Law Reform Act. It also examines how being televised altered their impact. Interviews with both protestors and reporters provide a unique insight into what it was like to be living through extraordinary periods of New Zealand history.

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 3 - Let Us Entertain You

2010, Camera - Television

This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 4 - Winners and Losers

2010, Camera - Television

This fourth episode in Prime’s series on Kiwi television history series charts 50 years of sports on TV. Interviews with veteran broadcasters are mixed with clips of classic sporting moments. Changes in technology are surveyed: from live broadcasts and colour TV, to slo-mo replays and CGI graphics. Sports coverage is framed as a national campfire where Kiwis have been able to share in test match, Olympic, Commonwealth and World Cup triumphs and disasters — from emotional national anthems and inspirational Paralympians, to underarm deliveries, snapped masts and face-plants.

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 5 - Telling Stories

2010, Camera - Television

From early teleplay The Evening Paper to the edgy Outrageous Fortune, this episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television talks drama and comedy. Key players, from actors to executives, recall a host of signposts in the development of storytelling on Kiwi TV screens. John Clarke recalls 1970s sitcom Buck's House; Paul Maunder remembers the drama that likely helped introduce the DPB; and TV executive John McRae recalls worries about the projected cost of global hit Hunter's Gold, and mentioning the word 'placenta' on the first episode of Shortland Street.  

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 6 - A Sense of Identity

2010, Camera - Television

When TV began in New Zealand in 1960, posh English accents on screen were de rigueur. As veteran broadcaster Judy Callingham recalls in this sixth episode of Kiwi TV history: "every trace of a New Zealand vowel was knocked out of you." But as ties to Mother England weakened, Kiwis began to feel proud of their identity and culture. John Clarke invented farming comedy legend Fred Dagg, while Karyn Hay showed a Kiwi accent could be cool on Radio with Pictures. Sam Neill and director Geoff Murphy add their  thoughts on the changing ways that Kiwis saw themselves.

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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 7 - Taonga TV

2010, Camera - Television

This edition in Prime’s television history series surveys Māori programming. Director Tainui Stephens pairs societal change (urbanisation, protest, cultural resurgence) with an increasing Māori presence in front of and behind the camera. Interviews with broadcasters are intercut with Māori screen content. The episode charts an evolution from Māori as exotic extras, via pioneering documentaries, drama and current affairs, to being an intrinsic part of Aotearoa’s screen landscape, with te reo used on national news, and Māori telling their own stories on Māori Television.

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Being Billy Apple

2007, Camera - Television

Billy Apple: enigma, con man, or artist? Being Billy Apple looks at one of New Zealand's most controversial contemporary artists: a man who changed his name, then turned himself into a brand. Director Leanne Pooley (The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls) follows Apple's life, and looks at his work in the context of the development of conceptual art overseas. This opening excerpt from the 70-minute documentary sees Apple talking with the filmmaker about whether it is important his face is even seen on screen.  

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Swing

2005, Camera - Music video

This infectious hip hop hit marked Savage’s solo debut, after his previous recordings with The Deceptikonz. A NZ chart-topper for five weeks, it went platinum in the USA (helped by its placement in Hollywood comedy Knocked Up and as the soundtrack for its DVD menu). For her video, director Sophie Findlay created a laundromat from scratch in an empty Otahuhu shop. In it she intersperses an undersized Savage and 70s-themed dancing girls with darker, more contemporary hip hop imagery. It must be all a dream, because the pimply palagi teenager is the tough guy.    

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Fence Jumpers

2004, Camera - Short Film

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My Kinda Kai

2004, Cinematographer - Television

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Nurses

2004, Cinematographer - Television

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New Faces Old Fears

2004, Camera - Television

Nominated for a Qantas Media Award, this documentary examines prejudices against Asians in New Zealand, amidst the context of burgeoning immigration (80,000 ethnic Chinese and 20,000 Koreans have arrived in NZ since 1988). Directors John Bates and Manying Ip look back at the history of Asian settlement in Aotearoa, from colonial xenophobia and the poll tax inflicted only on Chinese migrants, through ‘ching chong Chinaman’ abuse, to the present day — where 21st century migrants face struggles with discrimination, language barriers and integrating in their new home. 

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Ben and Olivia: The Search for Truth

2002, Camera - Second Unit - Television

In the early hours of 1 January 1998 Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, two young partygoers in the Marlborough Sounds, were in a water taxi looking for a place to crash. They vanished and were never seen again. The investigation transfixed the nation, and led to the conviction of Scott Watson for murder. Directed for TV3 by John Keir (Flight 901: The  Erebus Disaster), this 2002 documentary revisits the case from the perspective of two fathers — Gerald Hope and Chris Watson — and brings them together for the first time to talk about whether Scott Watson is guilty.

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Rugby Wives

2001, Camera - Television

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1951

2001, Camera - Television

In 1951, New Zealand temporarily became a police state. Civil liberties were curtailed, freedom of speech denied, and the Government used force against its own citizens. Featuring interviews with many who were involved, this film tells the story of the infamous lockout of waterside workers, and the nationwide strike which followed. 1951 won Best Documentary at the 2002 New Zealand Television Awards, and John Bates was named Best Documentary Director. 

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Space

2000 - 2003, Cinematographer - Television

Late night music show Space launched on TV2 in 2000, with a pair of hosts introducing live performances, interviews, music videos and occasional silliness. The show marked the first ongoing screen gig for Jaquie Brown, who appeared with future X Factor New Zealand host Dominic Bowden. When Bowden left in 2002, he was replaced by Hugh Sundae. The final season was helmed by Jo Tuapawa and ex Space researcher Phil Bostwick. Space was made by production company Satellite Media, whose credits include many shows involving music (Ground Zero, Rocked the Nation). 

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My Kainga My Castle

2000, Cinematographer - Television

Rotorua may be famous for its picture perfect scenery, but dig a little deeper under the boiling mud and you'll find a history bubbling with warfare, adventure and romance. This TV One documentary, presented by Te Arawa's own Sir Howard Morrison, traces the iwi's origins —from a fight over a beloved dog in Hawaiki, to the shores of Maketū in the Bay of Plenty. Morrison travels around the Rotorua region visiting important historical sites like Mokoia Island and his home marae at Ōhinemutu, on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Paul Gittins (Epitaph) directed the one-off special.

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The Price of Fame

2000, Camera - Television

With a cast of stars from television, music (TrueBliss, Bunny Walters) and sports (Stu Wilson), this 2000 documentary offers a close-up on fame — Kiwi-style. There are insights on local paparazzi from women's magazine editors, who have lost friends over what they have chosen to publish. Angela D'Audney reveals the 'intimate' relationship between TV personality and audience — looking animated is a job requirement, if she wants to walk in public unaccosted; and swimmer Danyon Loader describes the challenges of being forced into the media spotlight as a shy teen.    

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Relative Guilt

1999, Camera - Television

When a young Swedish couple went missing on a camping holiday in New Zealand in 1989, the investigation into their disappearance attracted intense media interest. Months later David Wayne Tamihere was arrested and charged with their murders. The subsequent guilty verdict cast Tamihere's family into a nightmare. The Tamihere family were abused, ridiculed and scorned relentlessly by an outraged public, and an insatiable media. Ten years on, Pooley's documentary tells their story. The result won the 2000 Qantas Media Award for Best Documentary.

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Ground Force

1998, Camera - Television

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Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power - Part One

1994, Camera - Television

The first part of this controversial, no-holds-barred portrait of Robert Muldoon — the dominant figure of 20th century NZ politics — traces his rise to power. In one of the show’s most contentious themes, Neil Roberts and Louise Callan explore the effect that the death of Muldoon's father from syphilis may have had on his political career. Interviews with colleagues and family members cover his childhood, war service, early years as a husband and father, his immersion in the National Party and the relentless, divisive style that saw him become Prime Minister in 1975.

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Robert Muldoon: The Grim Face of Power - Part Two

1994, Camera - Television

In the second part of this controversial, no-holds-barred portrait, Neil Roberts And Louise Callan look at Robert Muldoon’s tenure as Prime Minister — and claim that his best days were behind him before he took power. They examine Muldoon’s brutally divisive leadership style, which saw him at odds with officials, ministers, unions, the media and social groups that opposed him. The tumultuous events of 1984 that resulted from Muldoon’s desperate attempts to cling to power — calling a snap election and all but refusing to leave office after his defeat — are explored in depth.

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The Dutchman: the Making of an Opera

1992, Camera Operator - Television

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Gone Fishin'

1998, Camera - Television

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Kia Ora Bonjour - Part One

1990, Camera - Television

Howard Morrison visits France for the first time in this two-part Kiwi production, made to mark the bicentenary of Bastille Day. His tour of French culture begins on the Champs-Élysées on the big day itself, then ranges from Napoleon to Notre Dame, with visits to the Musée de l’Homme to see taonga, plus crepe-flipping and Parisian cabaret (where he belts out a song onstage). When the Māori leaves Metro range, it’s fishing in Neuvic and ‘Pokarekare Ana’ accompanied by accordion. In Corrèze he meets another Kiwi, and uses a minitel (an early version of the world wide web).

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Kia Ora Bonjour - Part Two

1990, Camera - Television

In this second part of Kia Ora Bonjour Sir Howard Morrison continues his exploration of France — plus an early Kiwi French connection. Back in Rotorua he welcomes Les Bleus (the French rugby team), teaches them about the haka, and looks back at Marion du Fresne’s first, fatal contact with Māori in 1772. In France Morrison checks out Bordeaux wines, takes a spa in Dax, goes fishing in multicultural Marseille, takes a TGV fast train, and cruises Paris in a Citroën. The Kiwi production was made for TV3, to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

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Lew Pryme - Welcome to my World

1990, Camera - Television

Lew Pryme's life was a wild ride that took in everything from rock and roll to rugby before it was cut short by AIDS in 1990 (he was 51). This moving documentary interviews an ailing Pryme reflecting on his journey and (still secret) sexuality; it follows him from Waitara to becoming one of the most popular hip-swinging music stars of the 60s. He went on to manage singers Mark Williams, Rob Guest and Tina Cross; and in the early 80s he became the first executive director of Auckland Rugby Union, introducing cheerleaders and 'pizazz' to Eden Park.

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Hotshotz

1989, Camera Operator - Television

Future Shortland Streeter Craig Parker features in this tale centred on a group of young teens fascinated by radio-controlled car racing. Screening as a TV series, Hotshotz was also recut into this telefilm. The "swift and slick" tale (The Listener) sees the teens setting out to foil a criminal gang, as a kidnapping sets the scene for espionage and counterfeiting. In scenes that echo modern-day drone use, a remote controlled model helicopter equipped with a camera plays a key role in the story’s resolution. Veteran writer Ken Catran contributed to a title that sold in 25 territories.