From The Governor to The Lord of the Rings, Martyn Sanderson's distinctive voice and sideburns were part of New Zealand's screen landscape for three decades. His work ranged from the experimental to the mainstream, including directing feature films (Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree) and personal documentaries.
Tusi Tamasese spent 18 years in his native Samoa, before moving to New Zealand and completing a double major in film and political science. After shooting 2009 short film Va Tapuia in Samoa with private funding, he directed his debut feature The Orator / O Le Tulafale, which was made entirely in the Samoan language. This tale of an outsider in conflict with his community scored multiple honours at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Tamasese followed it with New Zealand-set father and daughter drama One Thousand Ropes; the tale of family and redemption was invited to premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
Owen Hughes segued directly from university to a job at independent production company Pacific Films. Since establishing his own company Frame Up Films in 1977, Hughes has gone on to produce 40 plus documentaries and many dramas. Along the way he has nurtured the talents of a number of directors early in their careers, including Niki Caro, Fiona Samuel and Jessica Hobbs.
The son of a Canterbury mayor and lay preacher, Winter Hall turned his early love of acting into a long and steady Hollywood career. He used friendships forged in Australasian dramatic companies to gain entrée into the silent film world, and became a valuable, “poised and distinguished” supporting actor in over 100 films, including 1925 silent epic Ben-Hur. His career continued unabated through the introduction of the ‘talkies’. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, B-158-009 (detail)
Canadian-born New Zealand director Leanne Pooley has won a raft of awards for her work as a documentary filmmaker. The 2011 Arts Laureate's films include hit Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls, 3D Everest first ascent saga Beyond the Edge, and euthanasia exploration The Promise. In 2015 her film 25 April, an animated feature about Gallipoli, was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.
After working at the National Film Unit, the BBC and Canada's National Film Board, John Laing made his feature film debut as a director with Arthur Allan Thomas drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980). Since then he has directed another six features, and many television shows and tele-movies. Laing has also produced for both Outrageous Fortune and Mercy Peak.
Legendary filmmaker Rudall Hayward, MBE, directed seven features over five decades — decades in which the concept of Kiwi movie-making was still an oxymoron, or meant a foreigner was in charge. Inspired by NZ’s cross-cultural history, Hayward remade his own Rewi’s Last Stand in 1940. Later he married Rewi star Ramai Te Miha, launching a filmmaking partnership that lasted until Rudall’s death in May 1974.
After time as a reporter and radio producer, Judy Callingham became one of the first women in New Zealand to make her mark as a television scriptwriter (Close to Home, Gloss, Shortland St, and many more). Her broadcasting career has encompassed stints as a presenter (Town and Around, Fair Go), journalism tutor, and NZ On Air board member. These days she runs a media training company with husband Brian Edwards.
Danielle Cormack has showcased her naturalistic, seemingly effortless acting style on both sides of the Tasman. After roles in TV soaps Gloss and Shortland Street, she began a run of big screen starring roles — Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, The Price of Milk and Via Satellite (playing twins). On Australian TV, Cormack has starred as a prisoner (Wentworth), crime lord (Underbelly: Razor) and barrister (Rake).
Writer James Griffin has had a hand in an eye-opening proportion of the successful TV comedies and dramas made in New Zealand since 1985. His credits stretch from Gloss and The Almighty Johnsons, to award-winner 800 Words and big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. Working alongside writer Rachel Lang, he also helped create Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune and its prequel series Westside.