Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.
Andrew Niccol is one of the rare Kiwis to have made a career in Hollywood, and to boot he has done so largely with films based on his original ideas. His directing debut was dystopic GE future tale Gattaca, and he wrote one of the most acclaimed films of the 90s, reality TV saga The Truman Show. He has directed A-list actors Al Pacino, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Nicolas Cage, and Justin Timberlake.
Should Clive Sowry ever choose to enter Mastermind, his knowledge of the National Film Unit will give his competitors a definite run for their money. Sowry worked at the government filmmaking organisation for 14 years, including nine as the NFU's archivist. He went on to undertake a programme that saved 100s of local films, and has written often about filmmaking in New Zealand — including for NZ On Screen.
Although best known as a writer, Maurice Shadbolt also did time as a filmmaker. In his 20s he made a number of films at the National Film Unit, as part of a career that encompassed fiction, journalism, theatre and two volumes of autobiography. His classic Gallipoli play Once on Chunuk Bair was made into a feature film in 1992.
After starting his TV career in his native New Zealand, David Ambler found himself in London, taking on global hit MasterChef. Ambler first honed his talents on 1990s series First Hand, then directed a run of documentaries and non-fiction shows, including Epitaph and My House, My Castle. Eventually relocating to England, he directed and produced a range of non-fiction titles, then became Head of Programmes at production company Shine TV. In 2010 he shared a BAFTA Award for MasterChef - The Professionals. In 2016 the MasterChef veteran took on the job of overseeing Britain's stable of MasterChef shows.
Maurice Gee, who was named an Arts Foundation icon in 2003, is one of New Zealand's most acclaimed writers. His work for the screen includes creating 80s kidult series The Fire-Raiser and The Champion. Gee's novels have also inspired a number of adaptations, notably classic sci-fi series Under the Mountain and movie In My Father's Den.
Since debuting in the late 90s as presenter of crime-solving show Crimescene, Dan Henry has gone on to direct a range of non-fiction programmes, from Country Calendar and Here to Stay, to Lost in Libya, the acclaimed tale of the Kiwis who were part of World War II's Long Range Desert Patrol.
The novels of Elizabeth Knox range from autobiographically-based fiction to fantasy. One of New Zealand's most successful writers, she found an international audience in 1998 with breakthrough novel Vintner's Luck. This tale of angels and French vineyards has been brought to the screen by Whale Rider director Niki Caro.
Barry Barclay — director of landmark TV series Tangata Whenua and feature film Ngati — was a longtime campaigner for the right of indigenous people to tell their own stories, to their own people. In 2004 he was made an Arts Foundation Laureate, and in 2007 a Member of the NZ Order of Merit. Barclay passed away on 19 February 2008, after publishing his acclaimed book Mana Tuturu.
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early shorts won awards — the noirish Planet Man was the first NZ short to win Critic's Week at Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and television work, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for others.