Producer Julia Parnell’s CV boasts a diverse range of credits — from comedy (Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs) to sport (Wilbur: The King in the Ring), music (The Chills - The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps) and te ao Māori (Restoring Hope). Parnell’s production company Notable Pictures is behind a run of award-winning short films (Dive, Friday Tigers), plus long-running mini-documentary series Loading Docs.
Former guitarist Dane Giraud began his screen career by starring in and helping write 2001 movie The Waiting Place. Since then there hasn’t been much waiting around. Aside from directing feature drama Luella Miller, he has been a key player in a run of television shows and documentaries (Bring Your Boots, Oz, Both Worlds). Giraud is also creator of mockumentary series Find Me a Māori Bride.
Brother of pioneering aviator Jean Batten, Rotorua-born John Batten began acting in films while living in the United States. By the 1930s he was winning starring roles in England, including The Great Game and submarine drama Men Like This. Later he appeared in his only known New Zealand film, Rudall Hayward short Song of the Wanganui. Batten passed away in England in 1993.
Richard O’Brien made his mark in the history of musicals — and cult movies — after creating the tale of a sweet transvestite from Transylvania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has played on cinema screens for decades. The stage show continues to win new fans. O’Brien has gone on to a wide range of projects, including movie Dark City and hosting New Zealand’s DNA Detectives and UK hit The Crystal Maze.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
Eight years after debuting on TV sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won international fame for her starring role on Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest-star on everything from The Simpsons to Bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has mainly acted for American television, including a role as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.