Cliff Curtis alternates a busy diet of acting in the United States (where he's forged a reputation as the actor to call on, for roles of varied ethnicity) with smaller scale New Zealand projects — including co-producing Taika Waititi smash Boy. His CV of Kiwi classics includes playing Pai's father in Whale Rider, Uncle Bully on Once Were Warriors, and bipolar chess champion Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse.
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.
Maxine Fleming created or co-created the Emmy-nominated Being Eve, Agent Anna (starring Robyn Malcolm) and black comedy Burying Brian. The former journalist began her scriptwriting career when soap Shortland Street launched in the early 90s. Fleming has gone on to write for Outrageous Fortune, small town drama Mercy Peak, and Cliff Curtis mini-series The Chosen.
Ainsley Gardiner, MNZM, has been a producer on a run of successful short films and hit movies. She worked with Taika Waititi and Cliff Curtis on Oscar-nominated short Tama Tu, and features Eagle vs Shark and Boy. Then Gardiner launched Miss Conception Films with fellow producer Georgina Conder. Their work includes hit comedy The Breaker Uppers and documentary She Shears.
Marriage brought Scottish-born Robert Bruce down under, where he wrestled on hit show On the Mat, and acted and did stunts for movies. The Robert Bruce Ugly Agency was born in 1978, representing both actors and stuntpeople. The agency's stable of actors would expand to include Cliff Curtis, Joel Tobeck and Temuera Morrison. Bruce died on 2nd March 2009, after a short illness.
Although better known as a songwriter and champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting has also made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. Since then he has concentrated on writing songs and screenplays.
Grant Lahood made his name with a trio of short films featuring speedy snails, troublesome mice and squabbling animal activists. After taking The Singing Trophy and Lemming Aid to success at the Cannes Film Festival, Lahood has gone on to direct documentaries, commercials and two feature films — one of which (Kombi Nation) features an all human cast.
The films of Jim Marbrook include feature-length documentaries on speed chess maestros (2003 award-winner Dark Horse), psychiatric hospitals (Mental Notes) and environmental issues in New Caledonia (Cap Bocage). Marbrook also lectures in screen and television at Auckland University of Technology.
If the measure of success for a casting director is the subsequent success of the actors they pluck from the crowd, then Diana Rowan has certainly done time at the top of her field. She is the casting director who helped Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Kerry Fox and Lucy Lawless on their way to international careers, while developing her own talents as a writer and director of short films.
Auckland-born Denson Baker moved to Australia while still a child. Since then his award-studded career has balanced down under work, with shoots across the globe. Triple nominated for autism drama The Black Balloon, he scored awards with his fourth feature: the Indian-shot Waiting City, starring Joel Edgerton and directed by Baker's future wife Claire McCarthy. Baker also shot acclaimed Cliff Curtis drama The Dark Horse and NZ short Lambs.