Canadian-born cinematographer and director Bob Lapresle had two careers in New Zealand filmmaking. Firstly, with the Government's National Film Unit as a director; secondly after his 'retirement', as a producer and consultant passing on his experience to the private sector.
Always happy to share his face with a wētā, entomologist and 'Bug Man' Ruud Kleinpaste is one of the insect world’s best friends. After moving to New Zealand from Holland in 1978, his work with MAF created a media profile for him which led to a long-running radio show, and a television career that saw Buggin’ with Ruud, his show for American cable network Animal Planet, screen in over 60 countries.
The voice and face of Ian Johnstone are a familiar part of the New Zealand television landscape. Since the early 60s, his work as a reporter, presenter and producer has allowed him to document many key events from the first four decades of local television.
One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.
After almost two decades of directing and producing documentaries, David Harry Baldock left TVNZ in 1988 to launch Ninox Television. The company’s roster of reality-based programming included export hit Sensing Murder, local award-winner Our People Our Century and nine seasons of Location Location Location. These days Baldock is busy making arts programmes from Shanghai.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Tim Woodhouse has cut some of New Zealand’s most celebrated documentaries since crossing from Australia in 1989. Although he won a Best Editing award for drama Staunch, Woodhouse has largely specialised in documentary. En route he has worked with director Leanne Pooley on Haunting Douglas, Topp Twins hit Untouchable Girls, Beyond The Edge (about Hillary on Everest), and animated film 25 April.
Raymond Thompson, MNZM, has created and supervised a run of television shows since setting up base in New Zealand in the mid 90s. Longtime head of production company Cloud 9, he first began selling scripts in his native England. Thompson's series The Tribe, set in a world without adults, became a cult international hit, running for five seasons plus a sequel. His shows have sold to more than 130 countries.
As writer and presenter of The World Around Us, and producer of Looking at New Zealand, Conon Fraser was an early television celebrity. He joined the National Film Unit in 1969 and continued to make films documenting his adopted country’s landscape and history, and New Zealanders’ way of life. Fraser died on 17 June 2014, aged 84.
Rena Owen made her name playing courageous battered wife Beth Heke, in landmark film Once Were Warriors. The film won her a run of awards, and international acclaim from Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue. Owen has gone before the cameras in Australia, Fiji, Hungary and the United States.