With Hunter's Gold, Gather Your Dreams and Children of Fire Mountain, Roger Simpson blazed a successful trail for Kiwi drama shows aimed at a younger audience. Though he has written further New Zealand projects, Simpson relocated to Australia in the early 70s. Since then he has written and produced on a long run of television dramas, most often alongside producing partner Roger Le Mesurier.
Vincent Burke has been producing television programmes for roughly three decades. Since launching company Top Shelf Productions, he has worked on history series Frontier of Dreams, acclaimed NZ movie history Cinema of Unease, and long-running consumer show Target.
Longtime Cantabrian Simon Barnett has had many encounters with the small screen. In the late 80s he spent four years as a presenter on What Now?, before going on to host a number of talent and game shows. The longtime radio DJ has also competed in Celebrity Treasure Island. In 1990 he acted in hit comedy Ruby and Rata, as the young man who gets caught up with a dodgy but lovable solo mother.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
Ray Waru has been a prolific television producer and director since the 1970s, specialising in Māori, heritage and historical programming. He established the first Māori production unit and has been involved in a range of ground-breaking, award-winning shows, while operating his own media company for over 20 years. In 2006 Waru was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.
Robyn Malcolm is one of New Zealand television’s best-loved actors. An accomplished stage performer before moving into screen roles, she is best known for six seasons as Outrageous Fortune matriarch Cheryl West. Malcolm has appeared in television (Shortland Street, Agent Anna, Upper Middle Bogan), movies (The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell) and documentaries (Our Lost War).
Vincent Ward has won an international reputation as an original and visionary filmmaker. Vigil and The Navigator played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival (the first New Zealand features to do so). Docudrama Rain of the Children (2008) revisited people from his 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone. Ward also directed Robin Williams afterlife drama What Dreams May Come.
David Brechin-Smith is an award-winning screenwriter. Nominated for Lovebites and The Strip, he won awards for The Insider's Guide to Happiness and prequel The Insiders Guide to Love. He created and wrote drama series The Hothouse and worked on thriller series The Cult. Teen comedy-drama series Paradise Café and movie The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell are also among his credits.
Australian-born, but long based in New Zealand, Mark Ferguson won a loyal following as dastardly Darryl Neilson, whose Shortland Street escapades included abduction, assault and all-round unreliability. Ferguson’s varied screen work includes fantasy (Xena: Warrior Princess), satire (Spin Doctors) and a run of narrating and presenting gigs (faux reality show Living the Dream, improvisational series Scared Scriptless).
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.