By age 20 Toby Fisher had already swam in the deep end — co-starring in Ian Mune drama The Whole of the Moon as a teen dealing with romance and mortality. Later came British horror film LD 50 Lethal Dose, and Rosamunde Pilcher adaptation The Shell Seekers. Fisher is now a Brit-based barrister whose specialties include human rights and environmental law; he was junior counsel on the Leveson Inquiry into the British press.
After graduating from New Zealand Broadcasting School, Clarke Gayford created student show Cow TV. Presenting gigs followed for music channel C4, United Travel Getaway, and Extraordinary Kiwis. In 2016 he swapped his microphone for a speargun to launch Fish of the Day, a Choice TV show about his lifelong passion. In 2017 Gayford became NZ’s 'first bloke', when partner Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister.
Brian Kassler started his career building sets for theatre and film, then worked as a camera grip on a host of New Zealand features. In the mid 80s he started supplying film equipment to local crews, before launching successful production company Flying Fish with Lee Tamahori. Today he fronts Showtools, a film production website.
English born and raised, Rod Vaughan began writing for Kiwi newspapers after graduating in journalism from Wellington Polytechnic. Then he began 35 years at state broadcaster BCNZ, reporting for current affairs and primetime news, and famously facing off against one-time NZ Party leader Bob Jones. Afer 11 years with TV3's 60 Minutes, Vaughan published autobiography Bloodied But Not Beaten in 2012.
Unitec graduate Tainui Tukiwaho has multiple short films and television shows under his belt, including hosting Māori Television talk show O Whakaaro. In 2011 he took on the challenge of playing legendary entertainer Billy T James, for telemovie Billy. His other acting roles include Tangiwai - A Love Story, playing Dave's boss in TV series Step Dave, and co-starring in feelgood fishing movie The Catch, as a man trying to win a Kaipara fishing contest. Fluent in te reo, Tukiwaho was awarded a place in artistic mentoring programme Art Venture in 2015.
John Day rolled film on a wide range of screen projects before establishing company Matte-Box Films in 1980. He went on to mix a busy trans-Tasman commercials career with directing gigs on a number of non-fiction titles (The Power of Music, The Hunt for the Pink and White Terraces), plus ghost movie The Returning. Day passed away on 7 January 2015.
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.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first New Zealand feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised drama Sylvia, based on teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of 1985's best films. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.
The versatile Peter Young began writing and directing at TVNZ's Natural History Unit in 1989. After moving into camerawork, he launched his own company Fisheye Films in 1997. Since then Young has shot images around the world, directed acclaimed passion projects about post-quake Christchurch and the Ross Sea, and helmed TV series showcasing local landscapes and cuisine (Hunger for the Wild, Get Fresh with Al Brown).
A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937. Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.