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.
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.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.
Philippa Boyens (incredibly) began her screenwriting career with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Before then the long-time Tolkien fan had worked mainly in theatre. Return of the King won Boyens an Oscar, a BAFTA, and many other awards. She next worked with Jackson and Walsh on King Kong, and an adaptation of novel The Lovely Bones. Boyens returned to Middle-earth for The Hobbit.
Fran Walsh is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, film producer and musician. She has collaborated with her partner Peter Jackson on all his films since Meet the Feebles (1989), and was nominated for her first Oscar after co-writing Heavenly Creatures (1994). In 2004, Walsh shared three Oscar wins for her work on the final episode of the Lord of the Rings.
Writer, producer and actor Paul Yates is a comedic "everyman". His CV includes sketch shows Facelift and Telly Laughs, pre-teen series Freaky and The Killian Curse, and teen sitcom Girl vs Boy. He’s written for popular sitcoms Willy Nilly and Sunny Skies, and is producer and co-writer for Wellington Paranormal, the successful What We Do in the Shadows spin-off.
Yoson An began working in the New Zealand screen industry in 2012 with short film Death Note, having previously worked in theatre. He got his first starring role in a feature film the following year — in David Blyth horror film Ghost Bride, he played a Chinese immigrant forced into an arranged marriage. A lead role in Australian drama series Dead Lucky followed in 2017, this time as a rookie cop who blames his mentor for the death of his best friend. He also acts in hit webseries Flat3, and big-budget fantasy Mortal Engines. In 2018 it was announced that he would play the love interest in Niki Caro's big budget remake of Mulan. Image Credit: Photo by Andi Crown
Peter Rowley has performed alongside many Kiwi comedy legends, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby and Billy T James. After debuting on hit 1970s sketch show A Week of It, he joined the ensembles of McPhail and Gadsby and (in 1985) The Billy T James Show. In 1994 Rowley won equal billing alongside comedian Pio Terei on Pete and Pio, before going on to co-star in McPhail and Gadsby's Letter to Blanchy.
Desray Armstrong has built up a diverse slate of production credits since she entered the screen industry in 2004. Aside from producing acclaimed short films (Meathead, Ellen is Leaving) and TV programmes (police drama Harry, Māori musical instrument series Haumanu), she has also been a production manager or production coordinator on a run of feature films — from international projects shooting downunder (Slow West, Mortal Engines), to Kiwi stories (What We Do in the Shadows, Predicament). In 2018 Armstrong produced her debut feature film, acclaimed romance Stray.
Christian Rivers began his screen career drawing images of zombie carnage for Peter Jackson classic Braindead. Since then his career has been closely intertwined with Jackson's. After designing creatures on The Lord of the Rings, Rivers won an Oscar for his visual effects contributions to the 2005 remake of King Kong. These days he concentrates on directing: after assisting on The Hobbit, he helmed moody short film Feeder (2015). At one point tied to a possible Dambusters remake, Rivers makes his movie debut with post-apocalyptic epic Mortal Engines, based on the award-winning book by Brit Philip Reeve.