Generic profile image for Michelanne Forster

Michelanne Forster

Writer, Director

Michelanne Forster moved to New Zealand from the United States in 1972. Eight years later she joined TVNZ, as a script editor for long-running pre-school programme Play School.

Soon bored with merely editing the BBC scripts, Forster began writing large portions of the script herself. Recognising the importance of including more New Zealand content, she started to build relationships with established children's authors and musicians, commissioning stories and songs for Play School where possible.

In 1982 Forster was one of ten chosen to become a studio and film director for TVNZ. While undergoing training, she continued to work in the Children and Young People’s department on Spot On and Kid’s World, gaining directing experience. The following year she transferred to Christchurch to work as a director on After School, hosted by the legendary 'Olly' Te Hata Ohlson. Forster then did a brief stint making film items for Sesame Street in te reo Māori.

A trip to New York to visit the production of this iconic children’s programme counts as a personal career highlight. This was followed by a period directing What Now? for producer Keith Tyler-Smith. In 1988 Forster was appointed producer of After School, featuring fresh-faced presenter Jason Gunn.

Forster left TVNZ in 1989 to have a family, and began working on a freelance basis as a scriptwriter and editor for children's programmes such as The Posy Narkers, The Big Chair, and Bumble. With the assistance of an experienced team of four writers, more than 300 scripts and songs were produced in this time.

Michelanne has also written for American children's programme Bingo and Molly and travel show Making Italy Home. She has had long-standing working relationships with programme-makers Janine Morrell, Jason Gunn and Veronica McCarthy.

Forster has published a range of books for both children and adults, and written a number of award-winning historical plays that have been performed in New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Her acclaimed 1991 play Daughters of Heaven, based on the 1954 Parker Hulme murder, was for many years studied in Kiwi high schools, alongside Parker Hulme film Heavenly Creatures.

While her children were growing up, Forster taught at the NZ Broadcasting School in Christchurch, supervising and encouraging a new generation of film and TV makers. She now lives in Auckland, and is a full-time playwright.