Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following.
Jemaine Clement is the bespectacled half of folk-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who achieved international cult status in their own HBO series. Clement's screen career began after he joined the cast of 90s sketch shows Telly Laughs and Skitz. His big-screen debut was Tongan Ninja, followed by a starring role in misfit romance Eagle vs Shark. In 2014 he co-directed and starred in hit vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After feature acting roles on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby took the lead role in Kiwi romantic comedy Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of comedy show Short Poppies, with Darby playing a different person in each episode. He continues to act and perform live.
Dunedin businessman and artist, Fred O’Neill, whose hobby of making quirky animated films brought him international recognition, sent his Plasticine hero to Venus thirty years before Nick Park got Wallace and Gromit to the Moon. O’Neill’s films encouraged children not to take up smoking, brought Māori legends to the screen in a novel way, and entertained young viewers in the early years of New Zealand television. Image credit: Stills Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Courtesy of the Fred O'Neill collection.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Jess Feast is a documentary maker whose work covers everything from Berlin and ballet to the Flight of the Conchords. Cowboys & Communists examined cultural conflicts in post-cold war Berlin via a US-themed bar and residents of the tower block it’s housed in. 2013 breakout hit Gardening with Soul follows a year in the life of a vivacious nonagenarian nun and won the Best Documentary Moa (NZ Film) award.
Gary Scott began his television career as an assignment editor on TV3's news desk, before joining Ninox Films as a writer and researcher. He directed documentaries then joined Wellington company Gibson Group in 2001, where he has produced or executive produced a slew of factual programmes and series, including Kiwis at War, Here to Stay and NZ Detectives.
Director Tony Hiles has been making films and documentaries since the mid 1960s; from helming TVNZ staples such as Country Calendar, to independent docos whose subjects have ranged from the making of Peter Jackson's Bad Taste to architect Bill Toomath, and an ongoing series of films involving artist Michael Smither. In 1996 he won an NZ Film best director award for his debut feature Jack Brown Genius.
John Keir began his career as a TV reporter, and from the late 70s on was producing and directing an extended slate of documentaries. His CV includes docos about air crashes (Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster), war (Our Oldest Soldier), gender (Intersexion) crime (First Time in Prison) and the Treaty (Lost in Translation). His many collaborations with director Grant Lahood include two short films that won acclaim at Cannes.
Colin McKenzie joins Rudall Hayward and Ted Coubray as one of the earliest New Zealanders to make feature films on Kiwi soil. McKenzie was a technical innovator, responsible for a number of international filmmaking firsts. His unfinished epic Salome finally premiered in 1995, six decades after his death.