Music has been integral to Kevin Ballantyne’s life since the day he picked up a cornet at age five. The Aucklander has been composing music for 40 years for television, theatre, short films and commercials. Ballantyne wrote music for the iconic Heartland series. His first foray into writing music for the screen was 1977 natural history documentary Red Deer, which won an award at the American Film Festival.
Sam Hunt, CNZM, QSM, is arguably New Zealand's best-known, best-selling poet. The idiosyncratic Hunt published the first of many poetry collections at the age of 23. Since then he has performed across the length of the land in pubs and schools, and made music with David Kilgour and the NZ Symphony Orchestra. Hunt explored Cook Strait for 1988 documentary Catching the Tide, and can be seen touring with poet Gary McCormick in Artists Prepare andThe Roaring Forties Tour. He was also the subject of the five years in the making Sam Hunt: Purple Moon, which was released in 2011.
Known for his many live tours as a poet, debater and speaker, Kiwi legend Gary McCormick has made a host of appearances on New Zealand television. His work on the talk show McCormick and long-running series Heartland helped make him television's most popular presenter in a 1999 newspaper poll.
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.
Simon Reece has had a long career editing television and film, cutting landmarks such as Tank Busters, The Governor, Pukemanu, The God Boy and Vigil. In 1990 he shifted post-production roles and set up Wellington company The Dub Shop, which specializes in providing digital services for broadcast, web and archives.
Some jobs never make the headlines; in the screen industry, one of those unsung positions is the production manager. After seven years on film sets in Asia, Brian Walden returned home in the mid 70s to production manage the shoots of many classic TV dramas, from Hunter’s Gold to Hanlon. In 1985 he went freelance, keeping a firm hand on shoots involving horses, hospital porters, vampires and underwater aeroplanes.
Bruce Morrison's extensive career as director, producer and sometime scriptwriter has crossed the gamut: from innovative arts programming and pioneer music videos, to the long-running Heartland series — plus feature films variously involving fast cars, riotous teens and a glamour-struck Donogh Rees.
Lawyer turned satirist AK Grant was writing partner to comedians David McPhail and Jon Gadsby. Together the three created breakthrough comedy hit A Week of It; Grant went on to write for McPhail and Gadsby, Letter to Blanchy and the sitcom version of The Billy T James Show. He passed away on 29 June 2000, at the age of 59.
Producer Fiona Copland is noted for quirky and ambitious films, many of them made with first-time directors. 2009's The Strength of Water won praise at festivals in Rotterdam and Berlin, while multi-stranded narrative feature Matariki arrived in New Zealand theatres in 2010 via the Toronto Film Festival. These days she is part of company Field Theory, with producers Philippa Campbell and Tim Sanders.
A cameraman with over 50 years experience, Michael O’Connor joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee straight from high school. O'Connor went on to shoot some of New Zealand's most iconic dramas, from Under the Mountain to 1980s cop show Mortimer's Patch. His documentary work includes popular series Heartland and Epitaph, and directing Dalvanius, about singer Dalvanius Prime.