Starring one cow and two elderly guitarists, Michael Bennett's first short film Cow was invited to screen at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Since then he has written and/or directed a wide range of projects, from children's television (Kaitangata Twitch) to award-winning shows about Māori architecture (Whare Māori). His feature film work includes ensemble feature Matariki, and the script for Cliff Curtis comedy Jubilee.
Art department veteran Dan Hennah worked on a range of screen projects before becoming an art director and set decorator on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Five times Oscar nominated, he won an Academy Award for his work on The Return of the King. Since then Hennah has graduated to production designing on a number of features, including taking on the job for Peter Jackson's three-parter of The Hobbit.
Veteran newsman Richard Harman began his career at Auckland University student mag Craccum. As a long-time political reporter for TVNZ, he reported on the Rainbow Warrior bombing and the passing of the baton from Muldoon to Lange — also the subject of his award-winning documentary Five Days in July. In 1999 Harman founded company Front Page, where he launched current affairs shows Agenda and The Nation.
Jillian Ewart worked in television as a producer and director from 1976 until 1987. She was the originating producer of Pacific Viewpoint, worked on five seasons of Kaleidoscope, and developed the format for the live Benson and Hedges Awards for Fashion Design. Ewart was also the first producer of travel series Holiday. These days Ewart has returned to journalism.
Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh has helped create some of the most iconic images of New Zealand cinema: the girl with a mop of red hair, standing at the end of a country road in Angel at my Table; the piano on a deserted beach in The Piano, and the charged kitchen scenes of Once Were Warriors.
Invercargill-raised Bob Maclaren started acting while studying architecture at Auckland University. After touring a stilt-walking theatre show globally and hosting 1993 Discovery Channel travel show Bob's World he settled in Amsterdam, where he has largely been based since. As an executive for Dutch broadcaster BNN he produced a local version of The Daily Show, and wrote and directed comedy (and performed stand-up off-screen). In 2005 he returned to Aotearoa to star as hapless MP Dennis Plant in acclaimed political satire The Pretender. After reprising the role in 2008, he was nominated for a Qantas Award.
Globetrotting director Dean Cornish's credit reel ranges from Intrepid Journeys to bold buildings, Extreme Tribes to Rachel Hunter, sex trafficking to This Town. Trained at Christchurch's NZ Broadcasting School, Cornish has produced films in more than 90 countries and crafted a reputation as a go-to guy for travel stories. He shared a Best Director gong at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and TV Awards for Making Tracks.
After boning up on set design at TVNZ and the BBC, Palmerston North-born Grant Major has gone on to design movies for Peter Jackson and Niki Caro. His work as a production designer on epics Lord of the Rings and King Kong resulted in a run of international accolades, including an Academy Award for Return of the King.
In 2010, thanks to his work on James Cameron's Avatar, Kim Sinclair joined the short list of Kiwis to have scored both an Academy Award and a Bafta. His globetrotting career as a production designer has seen him working in locations from Mexico to Thailand to the Southern Alps, and for directors Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit), Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin) and Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away).
Producer Meg Douglas began in television as a teenage reporter, before heading behind the camera as an adult. Since then she has worked in a variety of roles — from researcher, writer and production manager, to producer and director. In 2005, Douglas started her own production company, Scottie Productions, which has netted several awards.