Since the late 1980s Bryan Bruce has been a prolific documentary maker and presenter. Over more than 30 documentaries, plus three seasons of The Investigator, he has cast fresh eyes on some of the most famous crimes in New Zealand’s history, and asked tough questions about the country’s economic and social trajectory.
English-born Leo Woodhead moved downunder as a teen. In his final year of a film masters at Auckland University, he went to the Czech Republic and made Cargo, a short about human trafficking; it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Follow-ups Zero and Cold Snap also explored troubled young protagonists, and were invited to prestigious festivals. Woodhead directs commercials in New Zealand and internationally.
Paul Stanley Ward won a Qantas Award for his first short film script: 2008's The Graffiti of Mr Tupaia. After an OE that took in a Masters in Literature at Oxford University and work for the Discovery Channel in the United States, he returned home to write for Kiwi settler show Here to Stay, plus policing documentary Undercover. Later came shorts Choice Night and Cold Snap, which was selected for the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Ward was founding editor of NZ On Screen. The longtime nature lover went on to create kids nature app Wild Eyes, and Capital Kiwi, whose mission is to return kiwi to the wilds of Wellington.
The CV of editor Jeff Hurrell splices TV documentaries — often alongside director Bryan Bruce — with a run of short films, including 2011 award-winner Lambs. The short film work lead to him editing debut features for directors Jason Lei Howden and Paul Campion, Deathgasm and The Devil’s Rock. Hurrell also cut the high profile Born to Dance, and runs Wellington production house Martin Square.
Jeffrey Thomas was born in Wales and graduated with a Master of Literature from Oxford University. Since arriving in Wellington in 1976, his televison credits have ranged from Close To Home and Gloss, to Mercy Peak and cop dramas Shark in the Park and The Gulf. In the 1980s he starred in a Welsh language drama series Bowen. An award-winning playwright, he has also acted on the big screen and the stage.
Julian O'Brien, who shepherds the team of reporter/directors on Country Calendar, knows something about the job. He spent nine years in the field, before returning as the show's producer. O'Brien began as a newspaper journalist, and his broadcast career also includes stints directing current affairs, documentaries and corporate videos.
Dunedin-born actor Colin Tapley found character parts gave his movie career longevity. Tapley argued that the average time for a leading man in 1930s Hollywood was seven years. He played supporting roles in pre-World War II Hollywood films, and after the war extended his career into the late 60s with performances in British movies and TV. His best remembered film is 1955 classic The Dam Busters.
Described by New Zealand Geographic as the "doyen of New Zealand diving", Wade Doak was an author, marine ecologist and conservationist. Along with Kelly Tarlton he was a pioneer of underwater exploration and filming in Aotearoa. Behind and in front of the camera, he contributed to documentaries for Wild South and production company NHNZ, and showcased Aotearoa’s undersea world to wide audiences.
Composer Stephen McCurdy's screen music has crossed the gamut — from jazz, chamber pieces, rock, and pop, to the faux Peggy Lee song which opened each episode of 80s soap Gloss. McCurdy won NZ Film Awards for his scores to Came a Hot Friday and The End of the Golden Weather.
While still in his 20s Chris Thomson was given command of a number of landmark New Zealand TV dramas, including genre-hopping colonial tale The Killing of Kane and The Alpha Plan (1969), Aotearoa’s first dramatic TV series. After time working for the BBC, he moved to Australia and began a busy career as a director, including credits on high profile mini-series 1915 and Waterfront. Thomson died on 1 July 2015.