Bruno Lawrence was a widely popular and prolific actor, musician and counter-cultural hero. His inimitable and charismatic screen presence was central to Kiwi legends Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Lawrence was also known for his influential and anarchic travelling theatre troupe, Blerta.
Christine Jeffs first made her name as one of New Zealand's foremost commercial directors. After winning attention with her no dialogue short Stroke (1994), she made her feature film debut with coming of age tale Rain, which premiered at the 2001 Directors' Fortnight in Cannes. Jeffs went on to direct Sylvia, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow as poet Sylvia Plath, and American indie title Sunshine Cleaning.
Laurie Clarke began his career in 1983, as an editor for Australia’s ABC. Back home for the birth of TV3, he later spent nine years directing and producing for news show 20/20. Clarke is currently a company director at Top Shelf Productions; his list of credits includes Target, What's Really in Our Food, Making New Zealand, Heritage Rescue, and long-running media commentary show Media Take.
Clinical psychologist Nigel Latta first made his mark on Kiwi television in 2008 with Beyond the Darklands, based on his book Into the Darklands, about New Zealand criminals and how they came to be. Latta hosted the show for five seasons, alongside three lighthearted, politically incorrect series about teenagers and other humans. 2014 saw the launch of wide-ranging issues show Nigel Latta.
John McBeth's commentating career began after injuries put paid to his senior rugby playing days. He became Radio New Zealand's lead rugby commentator in 1985 and took that position at TVNZ in 1992. With his trademark sense of humour never far away, he has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games and America's Cup yachting along with many other sports.
Ainsley Gardiner, MNZM, has been a producer on a run of successful short films and hit movies. She worked with Taika Waititi and Cliff Curtis on Oscar-nominated short Tama Tu, and features Eagle vs Shark and Boy. Then Gardiner launched Miss Conception Films with fellow producer Georgina Conder. Their work includes hit comedy The Breaker Uppers and documentary She Shears.
Michael Haigh gave up teaching to become a professional actor. A founding member of Wellington’s Circa Theatre, his TV legacy is the gruff office worker Jim in Roger Hall’s Gliding On — one of NZ television’s great comic characters and a role that won him a Feltex Award. He played Jim for five years and appeared in a number of other TV series and films (almost inevitably playing a policeman). Michael Haigh died in 1993.
John Bates is a documentary director whose low profile and natural modesty belies his talent. His award-winning documentaries range across many iconic New Zealand people and events, including the 1951 waterfront dispute, the 1975 Māori Land March, late photographer Robin Morrison, and the history of television itself.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
Within two years of acting in kidult TV adventure Sea Urchins, Kiwi Rebecca Gibney had set up shop in Australia. There she would find fame — and a long list of awards and nominations — thanks to a television CV which includes Wanted (which she also created), Packed to the Rafters, The Flying Doctors, mini-series Come in Spinner, and 21 Halifax tele-movies as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax.