Peter Young’s first job in the screen world was as a trainee director at TVNZ's Natural History Unit in Dunedin. Between leaving school and starting in televison, Young had spent a decade mustering, shearing, fishing and fencing. His interest in the land and the people who work on it is clear in both the images he has captured for shows like Country Calendar and Here to Stay, and the programmes he has gone on to create.
After a couple of years at the Natural History Unit, Young moved to Dunedin production house Taylormade, where he worked on award-winning children's programme N to Z. Drawn increasingly to camera work, he began a four-year stint as a news and current affairs cameraman at TV3. During this period he moved to Christchurch, and in 1997 formed company Fisheye Films.
Since then Young has shot material for TVNZ — his work on 50 plus episodes of Country Calendar has resulted in a score of awards — plus the BBC, Discovery Channel and Natural History New Zealand. He has shot travel shows, arts shows (including Young-directed Artsville piece Sand Man), commercials, and music videos (The Phoenix Foundation's 'Let Me Die a Woman', Op Shop’s ‘Nothing Can Wait’). Young has also built up a large collection of HD stock footage, which is available to buy online.
Young worked on a number of documentaries about the mysterious giant squid, and directed 2001 award-winner Chasing Giants: On the Trail of the Giant Squid, for the Discovery Channel. After going on location for adventure/travel shows Get Real and Africa Overland, he set about creating some programmes of his own.
In 2006 Young launched the first of three seasons of travel and food show Hunger for the Wild. The popular series saw Wellington chefs Steve Logan and Al Brown setting off in an 1964 EH Holden to chase down freshly caught and cooked Kiwi cuisine. Hunger for the Wild scored awards for best series in its category at the 2007 New Zealand Screen Awards, and the 2009 Qantas Awards.
Coasters played in 2011 in a 7pm Saturday slot. Young — again wearing the triple hats of director, cameraman and producer (alongside his partner Tracey Roe) — followed Brown as he encountered the people and sights of the Kiwi coastline. The ever-busy Young also authored a spin-off Coasters book. Ten-episode series Get Fresh with Al Brown, which debuted later the same year, saw Brown producing a series of meals aimed at capturing the quintessential flavours of each NZ region.
In 2012 Young released his four-years-in-production feature documentary The Last Ocean on the film festival circuit. The film, which explores environmental conservation issues in the Antarctic Ross Sea, was described by Waikato Times veteran Sam Edwards as “absorbing, politically and ecologically informative, nightmarish, and excellent, albeit disturbing, cinema.” Young has been a major player in the creation of the Last Ocean Charitable Trust, a non-profit organisation campaigning for the protection of “the last large near-pristine marine ecosystem on Earth”.
In 2015 Young released his documentary The Art of Recovery, which chronicled community-led arts activities in Christchurch following the 2011 Earthquakes. The film was the first to premiere at the city's recently repaired Isaac Theatre Royal, during the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival. Stuff reviewer James Croot gave it four stars, calling it “a fine celebration and deserved documenting of some truly innovative individual thinking that we hope will continue to flourish”.
Fisheye Films website. Accessed 25 November 2015
Peter Young website. Accessed 25 November 2015
James Croot, 'Review: The Art of Recovery'. Stuff website. Loaded 3 September 2015. Accessed 25 November 2015
Sam Edwards. 'The Nightmare Impact of Uncontrolled Fishing'(Review of The Last Ocean) - The Waikato Times, 8 September 2012