Mitchell Manuel burst onto the small screen in Mike Walker's 1981 bros-in-borstal drama Kingi's Story, playing the title role of a petty thief. Manuel followed it with acting and writing credits for acclaimed feature Kingpin (1985) and tele-movie Mark II (1986) — for which he won critical praise, and a best acting award.
An ideas man who campaigned for a Government film body, Stanhope Andrews would become the National Film Unit's first manager. Andrews commanded the Unit for a decade. Along the way he oversaw dramatic expansion, set up regular newsreel Weekly Review, and opened the door to filmmakers of both genders.
Yvonne Lawley's acting career spanned more than 60 years. She began acting on television and radio in the 1960s, and the following decade on the big screen. Lawley's work in 80s soap Gloss, and as star of Ruby and Rata and Rud's Wife provided proof positive that elderly women could be a commanding presence on screen.
Simon Bennett's extensive CV includes producing and directing episodes of long-running successes Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune — including helming Fortune's keenly-watched final episode — and producing fantasy series Maddigan's Quest. Bennett began in theatre, and has gone on to spend time as head of drama at South Pacific Pictures, the production house behind all three shows.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first New Zealand feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised drama Sylvia, based on teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of 1985's best films. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.
Writer and director Damon Fepulea'i trained as an editor before turning to directing. His credits include Dawn Raids and Life After Footy, two documentaries exploring Pacific Islanders experiences in New Zealand, and comedies Jono and Ben, Funny Girls and Mean Mums. His short film Watermark was invited to 20 international film festivals.
Millen Baird's self-titled comedy show won acclaim, and a Best Comedy nomination at the 2009 Qantas Awards. Then Baird and friends semi-improvised as a group of big city wannabes, for web series Auckland Daze. Baird has gone on to create and act in web series Darryl - An Outward Bound Story, Leeway and Slow Pete (with wife Siobhan Marshall), and act on TV's Step Dave and The Almighty Johnsons.
The son of legendary Pacific Films producer John O’Shea, Rory O’Shea made his mark as a camera operator and lighting cameraman of sensitivity and skill. His artistically-composed images complemented and enhanced the vision of key collaborators like directors Tony Williams and Barry Barclay.
James Cunningham made a name for himself after creating a run of stylish CGI-animated shorts — from 1997‘s Delf, and Cannes-selected Infection, through to acclaimed WWI tale Poppy. Now teaching 3D animation at Auckland’s Media Design School, Cunningham is also directing live action shorts, while developing a CGI feature with producing partner Paul Swadel.
Before Simon Morris became resident film reviewer and arts presenter for Radio New Zealand, he had a freelance television career encompassing scriptwriting, reporting and directing. He wrote for high-rating soaps like Close to Home, City Life and Shortland Street, directed classic music videos and was a key part of the Radio with Pictures team.