John Keir began his career as a TV reporter, and from the late 70s on was producing and directing an extended slate of documentaries. His CV includes docos about air crashes (Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster), war (Our Oldest Soldier), gender (Intersexion) crime (First Time in Prison) and the Treaty (Lost in Translation). His many collaborations with director Grant Lahood include two short films that won acclaim at Cannes.
Auckland company The Downlow Concept specialise in screen material with a quirky bent. Downlow broke into television with music quiz Pop! Goes the Weasel, inspired by their radio series. They made their name with a run of award-winning short films, including Only Son, the first 48 Hour film to win at the Qantas TV Awards. Alongside long-running panel show 7 Days, they created acclaimed dog-racing comedy Hounds, and were asked to write a project for US cable network FX. Debut movie Gary of the Pacific was released downunder in March 2017. It follows a real estate agent who becomes chief of a sinking island.
Catapulted to fame after tousles with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Tom Scott originally trained to be a vet. He ended up helping Murray Ball turn Footrot Flats into a hit movie. The celebrated humourist and cartoonist has also told the story of Kiwi legends Edmund Hillary and David Lange, in both TV documentaries and dramas. Scott also co-wrote Rage, a TV movie about the 1981 Springbok tour.
Oscar Kightley, MNZM, is a man of many talents. After launching The Naked Samoans, he worked with the comedy troupe over five seasons of hit series bro’Town, NZ's first animated show to play in prime time. The group also featured in movie Sione’s Wedding and its 2012 sequel, both of which Kightley co-wrote. In 2013 he took on a serious role: starring as a Samoan-Kiwi detective in TV series Harry.
Suzy Clarkson (formerly Suzy Aiken) presented news and sports for Prime Television from 2004 until 2010. Her varied television appearances include travel shows Getaway and Holiday, reports for American network ABC, and a celebrated cameo on the first episode of Shortland Street. Clarkson now works in corporate affairs.
Kiwi Chris Dudman studied film at Ilam and London’s Royal College of Art; his graduation short was nominated for a student Oscar. After working on arts documentaries in the UK, Dudman returned to NZ in 1995. Since then he has directed drama shows (the high-rating Harry), documentaries (The Day that Changed My Life), attention-grabbing shorts (Choice Night), and a number of high profile ads for his company Robber’s Dog.
Yvonne Mackay is a prolific director of New Zealand television, whose work has often focused on the arts and projects made for young people. She made history as the director of The Silent One (1984), the first New Zealand feature film directed solely by a woman. These days Mackay runs Wellington company Production Shed TV.
Legendary filmmaker Rudall Hayward, MBE, directed seven features over five decades — decades in which the concept of Kiwi movie-making was still an oxymoron, or meant a foreigner was in charge. Inspired by NZ’s cross-cultural history, Hayward remade his own Rewi’s Last Stand in 1940. Later he married Rewi star Ramai Te Miha, launching a filmmaking partnership that lasted until Rudall’s death in May 1974.
Costa Botes has had a long independent career as a director of drama (Stalin’s Sickle, Saving Grace ), a run of feature-length documentaries (Angie, Candyman, The Last Dogs of Winter) and at least one film that is very difficult to classify (Forgotten Silver). Botes also spent many years as a film critic, with a reputation for an acerbic wit.
Working with his brother Phill, Jeff Simmonds has created a run of quirky ‘documation’ films, which retell real-life stories using traditional 2D-style animation. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Phill) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and disintegrating band chronicle The Paselode Story.