Peter Metcalf has four decades of experience in making it all look seamless. After 20 years in state television, he became TV3’s first Head Video Editor in Wellington. His credits include classics like Country Calendar and Kaleidoscope, plus Great War Stories, 35 short documentaries for TV3 commemorating the First World War. He also helped launch successful post-production suite Blue Bicycle Flicks.
Having grown up in a musical family, Esther Stephens found it hard to decide between music or acting. So she did both. After training in performing and screen arts, she won an ongoing role as fashionista Olivia Duff in Go Girls. Since then, Stephens has had major parts in WWI drama When We Go to War and Westside. On stage, she won acclaim as suffragette Kate Sheppard in musical That Bloody Woman.
From a turbulent beginning in Auckland, self-styled adventurer and traveller Shayle Gardner was regularly employed on the British stage, and managed NZ troops’ entertainment during World War I. He also played his part in UK silent film history, starring in Comin’ thro' the Rye and The Three Passions. Gardner also had a short, tantalising stay in Hollywood; but in the end he came to rest in the place of his birth.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-A-DRAMA-1922-01 (Detail)
Dean O’Gorman starred in his first movie (Bonjour Timothy) at the age of only 17. Since then he has had leading roles in another four, including a 2017 remake of classic road movie Goodbye Pork Pie. En route O'Gorman has played dwarves (The Hobbit), jealous brothers (The Bad Seed), American movie legends (Trumbo) and Norse gods (The Almighty Johnsons).
Throughout his 50 year career, John O’Shea was a pioneer and a champion of the independent New Zealand film industry. His name was synonymous with Pacific Film Productions, which he ran for over 20 years after Pacific founder Roger Mirams left for Australia. O’Shea was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission, Ngā Taonga and the Wellington Film Society.
Hugh Macdonald began his long, award-studded career at the National Film Unit, where at 25 he directed ambitious three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand (1970), which was seen by 400,000 New Zealanders. In the 80s he produced Oscar-nominated short The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil and established his own company, continuing a busy diet of commercial films, train documentaries and animation.
Dunedin-born actor Colin Tapley found character parts gave his movie career longevity. Tapley argued that the average time for a leading man in 1930s Hollywood was seven years. He played supporting roles in pre-World War II Hollywood films, and after the war extended his career into the late 60s with performances in British movies and TV. His best remembered film is 1955 classic The Dam Busters.
Leanne Saunders’ eye for talent has resulted in producer credits on six features: box office hits Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Born to Dance, Nazi horror The Devil’s Rock, and dramas Desert, The Weight of Elephants and Christmas. She also executive produced a run of successful shorts. In 2016 Saunders was appointed Head of Production and Development at the NZ Film Commission.
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 career of Grant Bradley demonstrates that New Zealand producers can find many sources to fund their movies, beyond the beaten path to the Film Commission. Bradley set up company Daybreak Pictures in 1990. After producing more than 20 titles for Daybreak, he relocated to Australia in 2008 with his brother Dale. The duo established NZ and UK-based company Aristos Films in 2013.