Mhairead Connor fell in love with film during childhood screenings of Casablanca and Star Wars; later she was busted by her high school French teacher, after wagging to catch a festival screening of Catherine Deneuve epic Indochine.
Connor began working in film through jobs at industry organisations SPADA (the Screen Production and Development Association) and the NZ Screen Council. Then she horrified parents and more sensible friends by leaving the relative safety of a regular job, to concentrate on producing.
In 2003 Connor put together a film festival in Wellington and Auckland. Not Coming to a Multiplex Near You showcased local low budget digital films. She would go on to work with digital pioneer Campbell Walker — one of those featured in the festival — when she produced his film Little Bits of Light (2005). Picked for New Zealand's yearly international film festival, the feature provides an intimate chronicle of a man, a woman, and the woman's depression.
Since then Connor has produced documentaries, web series and short films. From 2006 to 2010 she was general manager and producer at production company Sticky Pictures. There she worked on a range of projects, most notably arts show The Gravy, one of the first series commissioned by TVNZ's digital channel. The job saw her balancing budgets and ambitions of a talented team of directors. After sharing a Qantas award after producing the first season with Mark Albiston, Connor executive produced the three seasons that followed. In this period she also spent a year an elected member of SPADA'S board.
In mid 2010 Connor launched Little Wolf Limited, her own production company. The following April, filming began on second feature Existence, which she produced alongside Melissa Dodds.
Directed by Juliet Bergh and shot (on the Red digital camera) in a number of "cinematic yet inhospitable" locations around Wellington, the post-apocalyptic tale revolves around an isolated woman (Loren Taylor née Horsley) who sets out to find out what is beyond the fence which divides her from the rest of the world. Made under the NZ Film Commission's low-budget Escalator scheme, Existence was one of two dramatic features to win selection for the Wellington arm of the 2012 NZ International Film Festival. Matthew Sunderland (Out of the Blue) and Peter McCauley (After the Waterfall) also feature.
Connor is also working with director/writer Gregory King on a number of projects. First to reach the screen was alien tale UFO, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 Show Me Shorts Film Festival. She went on to produce Moa-nominated horror short Feeder, directed by Christian Rivers (Mortal Engines).
She went on to join the team behind pioneering shoot 'em up game Dr. Grordbort's Invaders, which uses Augmented Reality technology to combine animation with real world environments.
Connor is a member of The Island Bay Project, whose dual aim is ensuring the longevity of Wellington film studio Island Bay Studios, and creating new digital tools for independent filmmakers.
Profile published on 1 January 2012; updated on 16 January 2018
Mhairead Connor, 'The struggle for Existence'- Onfilm, February 2012, page 11 (Volume 29, Number 1)
'Making Gravy' (Interview)- Onfilm June 2008, page 14 (Volume 25, Number 6)
'::the island bay project'. Island Bay Studios website (Broken link). Accessed 16 January 2018