Steven O'Meagher heads Auckland-based production company Desert Road, which he founded in 2005.
O'Meagher began his career as a journalist. After an extended term as a features writer with North & South magazine, he joined the staff of production company Communicado. His first producing job was on the second season of archival identity show The Way We Were, where he made generous use of the improvisational abilities of host Paul Holmes.
He then struck out on his own as an independent producer. The Understudy (2005) centred on the larger-than-life figure of Kiwi opera singer Simon O'Neill, a family friend of O'Meagher's. Directed by Paul Swadel, the feature-length documentary followed O'Neill to New York. O'Meagher describes the experience as "magic".
The David Crerar-directed Million Dollar Tumour, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a dying man's battles with Pharmac, took out the 2006 Qantas Media Award as Best New Zealand Popular Documentary.
During the same period O'Meagher wrote, directed and produced four-parter NZSAS: First Among Equals. The series followed the selection and training of elite members of the NZ Army's Special Air Service. After screening on TV3's Inside New Zealand slot, First Among Equals was bought by the National Geographic Channel. O'Meagher was then entrusted to make Anzac Day doco Reluctant Hero, which profiles Victoria Cross-winning soldier Willie Apiata.
O'Meagher was the originating producer of acclamed feature film Out of the Blue. O'Meagher had spent three years on a sprawling project with Brit company Working Title before it was abandoned. Soon after he was lucky enough to stumble across Bill O'Brien's Aramoana: Twenty-Two Hours of Terror in a Ponsonby Road book store. Inspired by "how ordinary people coped when faced with the unthinkable", O'Meagher teamed up with trans-Tasman producer Tim White to bring the film to the screen.
Under the direction of Robert Sarkies, Out of the Blue proved a Kiwi box office success; it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and won critical acclaim and a slew of 2008 Qantas awards, including best picture, screenplay (Graeme Tetley and Sarkies), actor (Matthew Sunderland), and supporting actor (Karl Urban). Variety reviewer Dennis Harvey praised the film's naturalism and restraint, calling it "chilling, often moving". O'Meagher and Sarkies would reconvene for Aotearoa award-winning TV series This is Not My Life and Moa-winning telefeature Consent - The Louise Nicholas Story. Based on the book Louise Nicholas: My Story by Nicholas and journalist Phil Kitchen, the 2014 tele-feature presented a very different take on the police from Out of the Blue.
This is Not My Life debuted in July 2010; Desert Road described it as "New Zealand's most expensive drama series" to date. Working for the first time as executive producer, O'Meagher headed to America and negotiated sales of the series and its concept with North American indie powerhouse Lionsgate Entertainment. The tale of a man (Charles Mesure) who begins to wonder if he can trust the apparently perfect world he wakes up in, This is Not My Life was created by writing team Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan, with Jason Daniel.
O'Meagher went on to produce a TV series adaptation of curator Justin Paton's book How to Look at a Painting. He also executive produced "riveting" (NZ Herald) drama-documentary The Golden Hour, on runners Peter Snell and Murray Halberg, which was nominated for an International Emmy for Best Documentary.
The May 2013 launch of detective series Harry marked the culmination of a 20 year dream by O'Meagher to make a local version of Brit classics Cracker and Prime Suspect. O'Meagher spied his star Oscar Kightley during a Naked Samoans comedy show. Keen to produce an authentic portrait of local crime, O'Meagher has been gratified to see the show strike a chord with New Zealanders. Reviewer Paul Casserly in the NZ Herald raved: "Harry is a great, gritty, grimy crime show".
'Steven O'Meagher: The 20 Year Dream that is Harry...' (Video Interview) NZ On Screen website. Director Andrew Whiteside. Loaded 10 June 2013. Accessed 10 June 2013
Desert Road website. Accessed 10 June 2013
Russell Baillie, ‘Russell Baillie: Rare piece of TV gold‘ (Review of The Golden Hour) - NZ Herald, 26 July 2012
Pau Casserly, 'Harry is grimy, gritty and great' (Review) (Broken link) - NZ Herald, 9 May 2013
Denis Harvey, Review of Out of the Blue - Variety, 24 September
'Inside New Zealand: NZSAS, First Among Equals, Thursday May 24' (Press Release). Throng website. Loaded 9 May 2007. Accessed 1 October 2009
Out of the Blue Press Kit