James Cunningham made a name for himself after creating a run of stylish CGI-animated shorts — from 1997‘s Delf, and Cannes-selected Infection, through to acclaimed WWI tale Poppy. Now teaching 3D animation at Auckland’s Media Design School, Cunningham is also directing live action shorts, while developing a CGI feature with producing partner Paul Swadel.
A pioneer of computer-generated imagery in New Zealand, John Sheils helped conjure angry cave trolls, flying buzzy bees and herds of roaming TV sets. Time as a camera operator fueled his interest in images unconstrained by gravity or nature. Sheils went on to work on The Fellowship of the Ring, Perfect Creature, Spartacus, and a run of video games and adverts — plus Red Scream, NZ’s first CG short film.
The founding member of Oscar-winning special effects house Weta Digital, George Port laboured for seven months solo on the digital effects for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. He went on to found Auckland effects company PRPVFX, which has supplied special effects for Xena: Warrior Princess, Rain of the Children and Green Lantern.
Christchurch editor, artist and animator Ken Clark turned a childhood passion for magic and monsters into stop motion animation. After making student films, a decade at TVNZ saw him editing staples across news, sport, and children's programming. He also designed titles for After School and CGI for What Now?. Since 1990 Clark has tutored in animation; his shorts have shown in galleries and festivals.
Former Spot On presenter Ian Taylor, CNZM, is the founder of computer graphics company Animation Research Limited. ARL made its name providing real-time sports graphics at the 1992 America's Cup, and has gone on to apply their technology to golf, cricket, tennis and Formula One car-racing around the globe.
Special effects man and designer Richard Taylor got his break making puppets for 1980s comedy series Public Eye. He has gone on to become a key part of the Weta effects empire, supervising the creation of orcs, zombie mishaps and miniature cities for movies and TV shows. A passionate advocate for Kiwi talent, Taylor and his team have scored five New Zealand screen awards, four BAFTAS and five Academy Awards.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.
Elam graduate Paul Swadel showed his eye for the artistic and the eyecatching both in his own award-winning work as a director — short films, arts programmes (Colin McCahon: I Am), commercials — and as producer: through collaborations with animator James Cunningham and on digi-feature incubator Headstrong. Swadel died in March 2016.
Scottish-born Kiwi Alan Dickson has directed and produced hundreds of commercials via his Auckland and Melbourne based studio Yukfoo. His animated short Preferably Blue — a twisted take on the Easter Bunny, starring English comedian Harry Enfield —screened at North America's South by Southwest and Tribeca festivals. He is developing animated feature Shirley and the Hungary Bear.
Fascinated by every stage of the television process, Zane Holmes began in the backroom as an editor and has gone on to stints in producing, directing and visual effects. After getting his directing break on hit Being Eve, he later joined Jeremy Dillon as a partner in company Pop-Up Workshop,which specialises in shows for children. They followed series Pop-Up with The Moe Show, starring a friendly creature with big ears.