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.
Bruce Phillips’ long stage career encompasses six acting awards, directing, and a “brilliantly funny” starring role as Uncle Vanya. On-screen, his CV runs to more than 30 roles, including playing fighter pilot Richard Dalgleish on TV series Country GP, a womanising dentist on Roger Hall comedy Neighbourhood Watch, and Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in 1994 miniseries Fallout.
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.
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.
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.
Ann Pacey has sung on London's West End, on cruise ships, and on rubber plantations during the Vietnam War. But the veteran performer once called acting her one true love, because "there's more of a challenge there". In 1989 she was nominated for a Listener Film and TV Award for her role as mother to a telegram singer in madcap Kiwi movie comedy Send a Gorilla. Her other screen appearances include music show Rock around the Clock, playing the milk bar owner in 50s era TV series Peppermint Twist, and cabinet minister Mabel Howard in Pioneer Women. Pacey has also arranged casting for many adverts.
Richard Whiteside began acting in 2004, after time as a businessman. Soon he was appearing in the first of a run of shorts (including starring in 2008's The Rat Trap). In 2014 he played head of a group of anti-media activists in Jonathan King feature REALITi; he also acted in a memorable advert in which he escapes into the air on an ejector seat, after driving lessons with his teenage son. Whiteside passed away on 11 August 2015.
Fred Renata jumped from electrical engineering into film, after joining the camera crew on Merata Mita's only dramatic feature, Mauri (1987). After helping out on landmark Māori drama series E Tipu e Rea, he later shot his first feature, Magik and Rose (1999). Since then his work as a cinematographer has ranged widely — from music videos and adverts, to hit TV shows 800 Words and Being Eve, to successful movie Mt Zion. Renata has also shot many documentaries (Poi E, Herbs - Songs of Freedom, Hotere), often with Māori themes. In 2003 he won an NZ Television Award, for his work on drama series Street Legal.