Geoff Dixon began making commercials in the 70s — the decade he launched legendary ad company Silverscreen Productions, whose clients included Cadbury, Toyota, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. Ranging across New Zealand and beyond, his work includes iconic images of South Island back roads, Barry Crump crashing utes through the bush, and Michael Hurst singing a war cry for the Kiwi bloke.
A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937. Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.
Renaissance man Fane Flaws has done it all. Since boarding the legendary magic bus of travelling band Blerta in the early 1970s, he has been a musician, graphic designer and artist — not to forget directing a long run of award-winning music videos and commercials, and launching bestselling multimedia project The Underwater Melon Man.
Roger Donaldson is notable for spearheading the New Zealand film renaissance with Sleeping Dogs (1977). He has been busy directing in Hollywood for much of the period since. Donaldson's first Kiwi story since acclaimed drama Smash Palace (1981) was Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) — the most successful New Zealand film on home soil until the arrival of Taika Waititi's Boy in 2010.
Rajneel Singh made his directing debut with 2003 fan short The Fanimatrix, which was downloaded millions of times in the age before YouTube. He followed it with Reservoir Dogs meets fairytale Big Bad Wolves. In 2010 his Blank Spaces was one of five short films chosen for a Tourism NZ 'Your Big Break' competition. Singh also has many editing credits (This is Piki, Find Me a Māori Bride — he has directed on the latter show). He has helmed music videos and adverts (represented by Mumbai's Genesis Films), and is developing movie projects with longtime producing partner Craig Parkes, under the SPV Films banner.
John Terris, QSO, moved from radio into television when the new medium hit New Zealand in the early 60s. Starting as a continuity announcer, he went behind the scenes, directing on the first seasons of TV staples Country Calendar and Town and Around. In 1978 the one time Hutt City mayor began 12 years as Labour MP for Western Hutt, including time as the deputy speaker. These days Terris heads advocacy group Media Matters.
John Day rolled film on a wide range of screen projects before establishing company Matte-Box Films in 1980. He went on to mix a busy trans-Tasman commercials career with directing gigs on a number of non-fiction titles (The Power of Music, The Hunt for the Pink and White Terraces), plus ghost movie The Returning. Day passed away on 7 January 2015.
Duane Evans Junior has been performing since he was a toddler, starting with adverts and modelling. His list of credits spans a diverse slate, from playing a young Billy T James (Billy), to a young Romeo (a JGeeks music video), and a recurring role on Shortland Street (as son of Vinnie Kruse). He has played lead roles in short films Possum, Ebony Society, and did an award-winning turn in I’m Going to Mum’s. In 2017 it was announced he would join the cast of James Cameron's Avatar sequels, as Roxto, a member of the oceanic Metkayina clan. Fluent in te reo, Evans Junior is sometimes credited as Duane Wichman-Evans Junior.
Peter Blake introduced more local content to popular music shows Ready to Roll and Radio with Pictures at a time when covers of overseas songs were the norm. The longtime musician began in television via 1970s music programme; Grunt Machine, and ended up in charge of a stable of shows. He has also composed music for everything from TV One's nightly News theme to drama Shark in the Park.
Ian Watkin's long acting career saw him playing mad doctors, priests, axe-wielding stepfathers, and American presidents. Part of the legendary Blerta troupe which toured Australasia in the 1970s, Watkin went on to appearances in everything from Beyond Reasonable Doubt and an iconic Crunchie bar commercial, to presenting Miss Universe New Zealand. He passed away in May 2016.