Andrew Adamson, NZOM, began his career at Auckland computer animation company The Mouse that Roared. After moving to the States and working in visual effects, he won fame in 2001 after co-directing Shrek, the first film to win an Academy Award for best animated feature. Adamson has returned home to shoot the first two installments of the Chronicles of Narnia, followed by Lloyd Jones novel Mister Pip.
Bob Stenhouse, the first Kiwi animator to be nominated for an Academy Award, spent 12 years working for state television. After joining the Government’s National Film Unit in 1980, he made Oscar-nominated short The Frog, The Dog and the Devil. Stenhouse’s later films have included several Joy Cowley short stories, plus award-winning short The Orchard, a Japanese fable adapted to a New Zealand setting.
Sandy Houston's career in animation and visual effects has involved 70 plus movie projects — including animated classic Watership Down, visual effects landmark Jurassic Park, and Oscar-winners The Return of the King and King Kong. Along the way she has been on hand to watch computers become key tools in creating screen illusion.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
The idea that New Zealanders often take for granted the depth of talent in the local screen industry is well illustrated by the career of Flux Animation founder Brent Chambers. Most Kiwis would have seen at least one example of his prolific output, yet few would be able to put a face or a name to his work. Chambers was tireless in building a competitive and viable international business, with a distinct local identity.
Alongside his brother Jeff, Phill Simmonds has created a run of quirky short films, which utilise traditional animation to retell real-life stories. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Jeff) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and bickering band chronicle The Paselode Story. His latest project is an animated feature film based on Parihaka.
After cutting his teeth commanding action scenes for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Charlie Haskell has gone on to direct a range of television dramas: from the American-funded Xena: Warrior Princess and Jack of All Trades, to local productions Tangiwai: A Love Story, The Almighty Johnsons, and the Moa-nominated Pirates of the Airwaves.
Kiwi Cathy MacDonald spent nearly a decade in the United Kingdom. While there she won a run of awards, writing and directing promos and commercials for everyone from Disney, to the BBC. Her quirky documentary short Roger the Real Life Superhero was selected for 11 international film festivals. Since returning to New Zealand in 2012, MacDonald has made more documentaries (including Turangawaewae - A Place to Stand, which played as part of international anthology movie Other Than) and her first fiction short, office tale The December Shipment (2015).
Niki Caro's near wordless Sure to Rise was nominated for best short film at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Four years later her debut feature Memory and Desire was invited to Cannes. Caro followed it with Whale Rider, winner of more than 27 awards, and still one of New Zealand's most successful films abroad. Since then Caro has directed everywhere from vineyards in France to mining towns in Minnesota.
Toi Whakaari acting graduate Rachel House, ONZM, won her first theatre award in 1998, around the time she debuted on screen as co-star of short film Queenie and Pete. Since then she has shown her gift for comedy and drama in The Life and Times of Te Tutu, Whale Rider, and White Lies — and won new fans as a child welfare officer on a mission, in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. She was the voice of Moana's eccentric grandma in Disney hit Moana, and has been a panellist on Ask Your Auntie. House has also directed often for the stage: in 2012 she helmed a te reo version of Troilus and Cressida, at London's Globe Theatre.