For 20 years Kathleen O'Brien was the only woman director at the government's National Film Unit. Her films were invited to festivals overseas. Known for her work involving children and education, O'Brien's directed comical road safety short Monkey Tale (1952), and the moving Story of Seven Hundred Polish Children (1966).
Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.
Keith Hawke was behind the camera on landmark TV series Tangata Whenua, and many other productions besides. In the 80s he reinvented himself in Asia as a director/producer of television and corporate videos, working in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Jess Feast is a documentary maker whose work covers everything from Berlin and ballet to the Flight of the Conchords. Cowboys & Communists examined cultural conflicts in post-cold war Berlin via a US-themed bar and residents of the tower block it’s housed in. 2013 breakout hit Gardening with Soul follows a year in the life of a vivacious nonagenarian nun and won the Best Documentary Moa (NZ Film) award.
Andrew Hagen began composing for film while in band Schtung. Hagen and fellow bandmember Morton Wilson provided music for a quartet of Kiwi movies, including Kingpin and The Scarecrow, then moved to Hong Kong and set up studios in Asia. In 1992 Hagen headed to LA, establishing himself as an award-winning composer, sound designer and sound supervisor. In 2011 he launched a branch of Schtung back in Wellington.
Peter Sharp is one of New Zealand's most prolific directors of screen drama. Though his directing work covers the gamut from police shows and soap satires to live performance, Sharp is best known for his work helming kidult dramas - including Maurice Gee period tales The Fire-Raiser and The Champion. He also directed award-winning mini-series Erebus: the Aftermath.
After learning the ropes making short films and music videos, ex soldier Matthew Metcalfe has made films in Antarctica and Iraq, and produced movies and TV movies with partners in Canada (Nemesis Game), England (Dean Spanley) and France (Capital in the 21st Century). His projects range from tutus (Toa Fraser's 2013 ballet documentary Giselle) to war (Leanne Pooley's animated feature 25 April).
Canadian-born cinematographer and director Bob Lapresle had two careers in New Zealand filmmaking. Firstly, with the Government's National Film Unit as a director; secondly after his 'retirement', as a producer and consultant passing on his experience to the private sector.
Rebecca Tansley was running an upmarket Dunedin restaurant when she entered a scriptwriting contest. Tansley won a spot, and Māori Television drama The Waiting Game (2008) was filmed in the restaurant. A year later she made her first short film, Eden. In 2015 she directed and produced feature film Crossing Rachmaninoff, a music documentary which featured at several international film festivals. In 2018 she turned her hand to dance with The Heart Dances - the Journey of The Piano: the Ballet. Tansley has also handled publicity for production company NHNZ, and wrote the tie-in book for NHNZ series Big Pacific.
As a head of drama in New Zealand television, John McRae spearheaded a run of shows that were both local and export successes. McRae's four-decade television career saw him working in three countries, and winning two Emmy awards.