After studying contemporary Māori art, Jane Shearer worked behind the scenes in film, and as an award-winning advertising copywriter. Nature's Way - her acclaimed directorial debut - was invited to 24 festivals, including Cannes. It won best short at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards. Shearer and partner Steve Ayson developed the film together, as they did Shearer's award-nominated follow-up short, Bird.
Natural history and adventure cameraman Mike Single has worked everywhere from Death Valley to Antarctica, and filmed everything from BASE jumping to the birthplace of kung fu. A long association with company NHNZ has scored him a swag of awards, including an International Emmy for his Antarctic film The Crystal Ocean. Single's work has screened on Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early short films won awards — science fiction tale Planet Man was the first New Zealand short to win the Critic's Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and a run of arts documentaries for television, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for other directors.
Hone Kouka studied English Literature at Otago University, then acting at Toi Whakaari. A leading figure in Māori theatre, Kouka is an acclaimed playwright (including The Prophet, which was filmed for TV in 2012). He has also written for the screen; he studied screenwriting at Amsterdam's Binger Institute, and co-wrote dance movie Born to Dance and NZ TV Award-winning Treaty of Waitangi drama Ngā Tohu: Signatures. In the mid 2000s Kouka executive produced a run of successful short films (Nature’s Way, Run) and worked in development at the NZ Film Commission, advising on films like Boy and The Orator.
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.
In 2008 Matthew Sunderland won a Qantas Best Actor award for portraying gunman David Gray in Robert Sarkies' feature Out of the Blue. His performance was variously praised as “sympathetic”, “unnerving” and “stunningly essayed”. The Toi Whakaari graduate's credits also include a cliff-hanging turn as a gang member on Shortland Street, the mysterious rider in apocalyptic tale Existence, a German colonel in horror movie The Devil's Rock, and another award-nominated turn in 2006 short film Nature’s Way. He starred as the hero in 2005 conspiracy feature Stringer. In 2012 he wrote and directed short film Tuffy.
Renaissance man Fane Flaws has done it all: since joining travelling band Blerta in the early 70s, he has been a musician, painter, and author, as well as director of award-winning music videos, short films and commercials.
Former ad agency creative-turned-director Steve Ayson attracted attention with 2002 supernatural short The French Doors (scoring a 'Leopard of Tomorrow' award at Locarno). He has since collaborated with partner Jane Shearer on award-winner Nature’s Way, and as co-director of Bird. Ayson is globally recognised as a commercials director; his local efforts include the iconic Ghost Chips and Lotto Lucky Dog campaigns.
Producer Nik Beachman worked on a run of Cannes Film Festival successes in the mid 2000s, as executive producer of short films Fog, Run and Nature's Way (Run was runner-up in 2007 for Cannes' top prize for shorts, the Palme d'Or). Beachman began his screen career as an Assistant Director. In 2000 he produced three short films in a single year. On the feature front, he was part of the producing team on Lee Tamahori's Mahana and 2018's Vermillion. Beachman's production company Thick as Thieves has worked on many high-profile commercials, including a Utah-shot Hallensteins ad featuring motorcyclists in suits.
Leanne Saunders’ eye for talent has resulted in producer credits on six features: box office hits Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Born to Dance, Nazi horror The Devil’s Rock, and dramas Desert, The Weight of Elephants and Christmas. She also executive produced a run of successful shorts. In 2016 Saunders was appointed Head of Production and Development at the NZ Film Commission.