Audio engineer Michal Hedges has won Academy Awards for his work on Peter Jackson blockbusters King Kong and The Return of the King. After starting in state television, Hedges went on to establish a reputation for his skills as a re-recording mixer, combining the many elements that make up a soundtrack. Aside from multiple movies featuring hobbits, he has also worked on Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows, District 9, and Peter Jackson’s earlier films Heavenly Creatures and Braindead. His extensive CV also includes Kiwi classics Once Were Warriors, Boy and The World's Fastest Indian.
Peter Feeney is a veritable Swiss Army knife of the screen, with credits as an actor, casting director and acting tutor. Feeney's 20 year plus acting CV ranges from drama (as Rose-Noelle skipper John Glennie, in TV movie Abandoned), kids TV (The Cul de Sac), comedy (Auckland Daze), New Zealand-shot US shows (Spartacus), and film. He won rave reviews as a mad scientist in movie hit Black Sheep.
After appearing briefly in The Piano at age three, Rose McIver went on to star in big budget fantasy series Maddigan’s Quest while still a teen. Since then she has played one of the passengers in true life train disaster tale Tangiwai - A Love Story, and completed a five season run in American series iZombie, starring as a crime-solving zombie. She is set to co-star in Kiwi movie musical Daffodils.
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.
Margot Francis has extensive experience as an editor, both in New Zealand and the United States. Television highlights include Outrageous Fortune and Saturday Night Live. She also worked on Bette Midler TV movie The Mondo Beyondo Show and Billy T: Te Movie. She won an Emmy Award for a documentary on Broadway musical Sarafina: Words of Freedom! In 2012 she was nominated twice in the same category of the NZ Television Awards; she won for Katherine Mansfield biopic Bliss. Later she was nominated for archive series Decades in Colour. Francis is married to US-born producer Steve Sachs.
Composer/arranger Victoria Kelly studied music at Auckland University, and film composition at LA's University of Southern California. Since then her eclectic, award-nominated CV of soundtracks has tended to the dark or fantastical (Out of the Blue, The Ugly, Black Sheep). In 2007 Kelly won a NZ Screen Award for TV's Maddigan's Quest; in 2011 she was appointed musical director for the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony.
New York raised Kiwi Liz DiFiore spent much of the 90s working as a location manager, before moving into production management - both on local productions, and US TV shooting downunder. Working under her company GodZone Pictures, DiFiore has also produced or executive produced many Kiwi shorts, plus Stephen Sinclair’s directorial debut Russian Snark. In 2015 she and James Heyward produced Abandoned, based on four men trapped on trimaran the Rose Noelle. It went on to win a Moa award for Best Television Feature.
After boning up on set design at TVNZ and the BBC, Palmerston North-born Grant Major has gone on to design movies for Peter Jackson and Niki Caro. His work as a production designer on epics Lord of the Rings and King Kong resulted in a run of international accolades, including an Academy Award for Return of the King.
Canadian-born cinematographer Thomas Burstyn made his feature debut supplying the film noirish imagery for 80s Kiwi chillers The Lost Tribe, and Mr Wrong. Since then Burstyn has stacked up Canadian award nominations, and an Emmy nom for The 4400. Working with Kiwi partner Barbara Sumner-Burstyn, he has expanded into directing docos alongside other photographic assignments, winning two Qantas awards for the Berlin-selected This Way of Life.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.