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.
After graduating from New Zealand Broadcasting School, Clarke Gayford created student show Cow TV. Presenting gigs followed for music channel C4, United Travel Getaway, and Extraordinary Kiwis. In 2016 he swapped his microphone for a speargun to launch Fish of the Day, a Choice TV show about his lifelong passion. In 2017 Gayford became NZ’s 'first bloke', when partner Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister.
Fed up with seeing animals unintentionally mishandled on set, former farm girl Caroline Girdlestone decided to do something about it. Now one of the most respected animal trainers in Australasia, she’s worked with almost any animal imaginable across more than 500 projects – ranging from the cute barnyard animals of Racing Stripes to the horrifying ovine creatures in Black Sheep.
Ivars Berzins fell in love with photography aged eight, en route to TV assignments across NZ, in Norwegian fjords, and in East Timor. Berzins was chief cameraman in TVNZ's Wellington office before leaving in 1996 to start company Pacific Crews (now Pacific Screen), which he went on to run with his wife, producer Amanda Evans. These days he directs as well as films, including on documentary series New Zealand Stories.
Veteran Australian-born producer Phil Wallington has 50 plus years of screen credits. A 1989 shift to New Zealand following 23 years at Australia’s ABC news saw him take on a run of executive producer roles on current affairs shows; he helped produce the controversial 1990 Frontline report on Labour Party campaign funding. The Top Shelf producer is also a regular media commentator.
The trio of documentaries surrounding the religious community of Gloriavale generated huge TV ratings. Amanda Evans is the director and producer behind this mini-TV phenomenon. In her 30 year career she has produced and/ or directed documentaries, reality series and iconic Kiwi kids and arts shows.
Dorthe Scheffmann’s varied behind the scenes roles have helped ensure that many classic Kiwi movies managed to finish their shoots, without falling apart in the process. In 1996 she competed at the Cannes Film Festival with The Beach, the first short film she directed. Her first feature was released in 2018: ensemble drama Vermilion starring actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand.
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.
Actor Grant Tilly, who died in April 2012, displayed his gifts for understated comedy in movies Middle Age Spread and Carry Me Back. The versatile Tilly had done it all — from acclaimed theatre performances (often in Roger Hall plays) to screen roles that took in everything from adventure movies and landmark historical dramas (The Governor), to children's TV, sitcoms (Gliding On), and many voice-overs.
Murray Reece has been the director at a number of key turning points in New Zealand's television history: from the debut of our first drama series (Pukemanu), to the first telemovie (The God Boy), to the episode of Country Calendar where Fred Dagg first showed us around the farm.