Australian-raised Melanie Rodriga (née Read) moved to New Zealand in 1977, and worked as an editor. After adapting Keri Hulme story Hooks and Feelers, she wrote and directed feminist thriller Trial Run in 1983. In 1988 Rodriga was a best director finalist for pioneering TV drama The Marching Girls. Rodriga now lectures in film at Perth’s Murdoch University and continues to make and develop films.
Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following.
Ken Duncum, who heads the scriptwriting programme at Victoria University, has written comedy (Skitz, Willy Nilly), detective shows (Duggan) and meta dramas about television itself (Cover Story). His extensive theatrical CV is laced with plays in which music plays a major part — including the acclaimed Waterloo Sunset, and hit show Blue Sky Boys.
Stephen Downes had never shot a film before meeting director Robert Sarkies in an Otago University cafe; he wound up framing a trio of Sarkies’ short films, plus his breakout feature Scarfies. With a zoology degree under his belt, Downes has also forged a prolific career as an international wildlife filmmaker, from capturing kaka parrots in his lens to "chasing wild ass" in India. He is co-founder of 5 to 9 productions.
Gary Scott began his television career as an assignment editor on TV3's news desk, before joining Ninox Films as a writer and researcher. He directed documentaries then joined Wellington company Gibson Group in 2001, where he has produced or executive produced a slew of factual programmes and series, including Kiwis at War, Here to Stay and NZ Detectives.
Producer Rachel Gardner studied at the London School of Economics, then worked as a journalist at the Financial Times. After returning downunder in 2002 she moved into producing, starting with award-winning documentary Colin McCahon: I Am. Her work on hit show The Lion Man would result in an invitation to become head of drama at company Great Southern Film and Television. Gardner has worked with partner Angela Littlejohn on a run of short films, plus features Apron Strings, Show of Hands and Slow West. In 2014 she joined See-Saw, the Anglo-Australian company behind Slow West and Lion.
Josh McKenzie joined the cast of Shortland Street in 2013 as ambitious executive assistant Nate Clark. His other roles include the boy in TV's Girl vs Boy, good guy Tim in the final season of Go Girls, All Black Dan Carter in The Kick and Power Ranger Jordan. In 2015 he began a memorable turn in TV's Filthy Rich, as the dodgy outcast son of a wealthy family. McKenzie won an Aotearoa Film Award for Outstanding Feature Film Debut, for his role in 2013 movie The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell.
John Gilbert has edited images of hobbits, disabled lovers, and heroic conscientious objectors. Along the way he has done time at TVNZ, edited over 20 feature films, and cut a clutch of classic short films. In 2017 Gilbert won his first Academy Award — for Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge — after having been previously nominated for The Fellowship of the Ring.
Dunedin-born Susan Brady began her screen career running across Chinatown rooftops for TV's Gold, playing an Irish sheep-rustler. The role "was a hoot". Since then she has been an Amazonian Mum on Hercules, the ditsy sister on Melody Rules, and guested as a rebellious daughter on Marlin Bay. Aside from playing her share of American mothers, Brady has brought her voice skills to Power Rangers and the Milky Bar Kid.
Lamenting a lack of good roles for Asian women, Chinese Kiwi JJ Fong teamed up with fellow actors Ally Xue and Perlina Lau and director Roseanne Liang. The result was comical web series Flat3. Fong played aspiring actor Jessica, whose life is overly dictated by her libido. After three seasons, the quartet began on follow-up web series Friday Night Bites, and short film Sugar Hit (part of anthology series K’ Rd Stories). JJ Fong originally studied dance, which led her to musical theatre and acting. Her screen CV also includes web series ADK, TV's Go Girls and Shortland Street, and a memorably bitchy part on Step Dave.