A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937. Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.
Producer Colin Follas worked on a long line of agriculture-related TV shows: from Country Calendar (which he regularly fronted, with such aplomb he was known as 'One Shot Follas') to specialist productions Ag Report and Farming with Pictures. He set up company Tiger Films, and produced shows ranging from corporate videos and food promotions to award-winning Treaty of Waitangi drama Nga Tohu: Signatures.
Elizabeth Mitchell made her name as creator and producer of animated sensation bro'Town, which screened for five seasons and won multiple awards. Since then she has produced short films and directed documentaries, and is currently developing a feature based on Oscar Kightley's award-winning short Tom's Dairy.
Ian Sinclair has reported from every corner of the globe. After experiencing dictatorship while studying flamenco guitar in Spain, Sinclair returned home to New Zealand, and eventually began working for TVNZ in 1986. Since then he has covered four major wars and been a mainstay as an investigative journalist, winning New Zealand’s Qantas Media Award for Best Investigation in 2009.
Alison Holst (DNZM, CBE, QSM) has been a household face since the early days of New Zealand television, when her debut show, Here’s How: Alison Holst Cooks, was an instant hit. Her mission was to cook for ordinary people, use uncomplicated ingredients and stick to a budget. Rejecting her unliberated image, she aimed to get women out of the kitchen by making cooking simple.
Hugh Macdonald began his long, award-studded career at the National Film Unit, where at age 25 he directed ambitious three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand (1970). It was seen by 400,000 New Zealanders. In the 1980s he produced Oscar-nominated short The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil and set up his own company, continuing a busy diet of train documentaries, commercial films and animation.
As a war correspondent filming the New Zealand forces in Italy and the Middle East, Ron McIntyre played a key role in supplying the raw material for the early films of the National Film Unit. After nearly four years overseas, he returned home and tried his hand at independent filmmaking. McIntyre spent just over seven years with the NFU as a cameraman and director, and also worked briefly for Pacific Films.
Actor, director, presenter and teacher Heather Crofskey is best remembered as Heather Eggleton: glamorous co-host of It’s in the Bag, where she presented alongside Selwyn Toogood as the show shifted from radio to TV. A former member of theatre group the New Zealand Players, she has also been a weather presenter and continuity announcer. Off-screen she and her husband are successful horse breeders, and run a Taranaki dairy farm.
Alan Erson captured the everyday lives of New Zealanders in 1990s documentary series First Hand. His directing credits also include Heartland and Nuclear Reaction. Since 2004 Erson has built a successful career in Australia as Head of Documentary and Factual Programmes for the ABC, and General Manager at Essential Media and Entertainment. In 2016 he became Managing Director at WildBear Entertainment.
With a background in film publicity in England, Nigel Hutchinson emigrated to New Zealand in 1974. After co-founding production company Motion Pictures, he went on to direct a run of award-winning TV commercials, and co-produce Kiwi movie landmark Goodbye Pork Pie. He passed away on 23 March 2017.