Kiwi Chris Dudman studied film at Ilam and London’s Royal College of Art; his graduation short was nominated for a student Oscar. After working on arts documentaries in the UK, Dudman returned to NZ in 1995. Since then he has directed drama shows (the high-rating Harry), documentaries (The Day that Changed My Life), attention-grabbing shorts (Choice Night), and a number of high profile ads for his company Robber’s Dog.
"Affecting coming of age drama. […] Fine lead performances by Aaron McGregor and Pearl McGlashan locate this story firmly in the real world." Dominic Corry, 2010 Flicks.co.nz review of Choice Night
Blown away by "the emotional intensity" of a series of video interviews with survivors after the February 2011 quakes, Chris Dudman began making a documentary about some of those "profoundly affected" by the event. After debuting on TV One in February 2015, it won best local doco at the Documentary Edge Festival. With the aid of the original conversations, new interviews, reconstructions and unseen footage, Dudman concentrates on six people’s stories: including a construction worker, a journalist, and a man whose wife was trapped inside the CTV building.
This TV3 drama series follows a troubled Auckland cop (Oscar Kightley). Solo parent to a teenage daughter following his wife’s suicide, Detective Sergeant Harry Anglesea is thrown into a murder investigation and an underworld of P and gang violence. Harry, not a stickler for the rules, marked a rare dramatic turn for Kightley. Sam Neill played his boss. Herald reviewer Paul Casserly called it a “great, gritty crime show”. Written by Kightley, director Chris Dudman and veteran South Auckland detective Neil Grimstone, Harry was notable for using unsubtitled Samoan in prime time.
This first episode of this 2013 crime drama begins with a meth-fuelled bank heist gone very wrong. Harry is a troubled Samoan-Kiwi detective (played by Oscar Kightley, a million miles away from bro' Town) pursuing justice in South Auckland. Sam Neill, in his first role on a Kiwi TV series, plays Harry’s detective buddy. Off the case, Harry struggles with his teen daughter in the wake of his wife’s suicide. The Chris Dudman-directed series screened for a season on TV3. Broadcaster John Campbell tweeted: “Not remotely suitable for kids. But nor are many excellent things.”
Fifteen-year-old James is a suburban kid who tries to have it all one night on Courtenay Place. A sensitive lead turn from newcomer Aaron McGregor captures the intensity of being taken by the night, as booze and hormones derail romantic intentions. Choice Night was a second short collaboration between director Christopher Dudman and writer Paul Stanley Ward, loosely based on the latter’s experiences as a teenager in 90s Wellington. It was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand (in competition) and BFI London film festivals, and won Best International Short at Geneva.
In this short film, a Cook Island school cleaner (Whale Rider's Rawiri Paratene) responds to an unusual graffiti message on a girls’ toilet wall, with life-changing consequences for him and the mysterious author. Paratene's performance won him a Qantas Film and TV Award; the film also won Best Short and Screenplay (Paul Stanley Ward). Tupaia travelled to more than 15 festivals and director Chris Dudman was nominated for a Leopard of Tomorrow (Best Short) at Locarno. Dudman, Ward and producer Vicky Pope teamed up on another short film success, Choice Night (2010).