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 has gone on to direct another six feature-length productions, alongside 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 Auckland and London.
Born in Dargaville, the Bradley brothers grew up 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 resulted from successfully pitching a documentary idea to TVNZ executive Rod Cornelius. Half-hour documentary Defeated Enemy was 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 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 downunder. 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 made its share of corporate videos and commercials, features and feature-length dramas soon became its raison d’être.
The first official Daybreak feature was 1991’s Chunuk Bair, based on a WWl battle which some say was pivotal in forging New Zealand's identity. The tale of a group of Kiwi soldiers struggling to hold a strategic hill in the Gallipoli Peninsula saw Bradley nominated for Best Director at the NZ Fllm Awards. Chunuk Bair was also nominated for Best Film. Bradley talks about the project in this behind the scenes documentary, including winning over Maurice Shadbolt, who wrote the play that inspired the film, Once on Chunuk Bair.
Later Daybreak won funding for the hour-long Repeat Performance, from a distributor in Minneapolis. Although 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 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 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 projects aimed at a younger audience. The movie is set in a universe in which children find a way to make their parents disappear;the juvenile-heavy cast includes an award-winning performance by Kiwi Olivia Tennet (Shortland Street).
Since 2003 Dale Bradley has concentrating largely on developing and producing, while his brother looks after finance and marketing. In 2008 the Bradleys relaunched themselves in Queensland. Their slate of films ranges across many budgets, and includes Absolute Deception, with Cuba Gooding Jr as an FBI agent downunder, and Dale Bradley's thriller at sea, Undertow. The brothers were also part of the multinational team producing globetrotting romance The Lovers. Directed by Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields) and shot under the title Singularity, the time travel tale includes Josh Hartnett and Kiwi Simone Kessell in its cast.
Profile updated on 29 September 2020
Aristos Films website. Accessed 29 September 2020
‘Repeat performances’ (Interview with Grant Bradley) Onfilm, September 1998, page 13
I'Dale G Bradley' International Movie Database website. Accessed 29 September 2020