As an intrepid young cameraman for the National Film Unit, Don Oakley travelled to remote parts of New Zealand and brought to the screen scenes of the recently-rediscovered takahē, Opo the dolphin, and life in the backblocks. In a lengthy career, he also filmed in the studio and overseas, rising to be chief cameraman of the NFU.
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.
Eight years after debuting on TV sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won international fame for her starring role on Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest-star on everything from The Simpsons to Bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has mainly acted for American television, including a role as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.
Andy Anderson began drumming and singing as a Hutt Valley teenager. Since then his diverse trans-Tasman performing career has included playing in rock bands, starring as Sweeney Todd and the Pirate King on-stage — plus more than 50 acting roles on-screen, often playing rogues and diamonds in the rough, in shows from Roche, Gloss and Marlin Bay, to The Sullivans.
Dunedin-born Susan Brady began her screen career running across Chinatown rooftops for TV's Gold, playing an Irish sheep-rustler. The role "was a hoot". Since then she has been an Amazonian Mum on Hercules, the ditsy sister on Melody Rules, and guested as a rebellious daughter on Marlin Bay. Aside from playing her share of American mothers, Brady has brought her voice skills to Power Rangers and the Milky Bar Kid.
As cantankerous plumber Max Ramsey, Kiwi Francis Bell was the original patriarch in iconic soap Neighbours. A popular and sought after actor in Australia, Bell had roles in numerous TV staples; he played ‘Pompey’ Elliot in the Anzacs mini-series. In the mid-80s Bell returned home, and in TV3 soap Homeward Bound played Dad to a young Karl Urban. In May 1994, aged 50, he fell from an Auckland building to his death.
As a war correspondent filming the New Zealand forces in Italy and the Middle East, Ron McIntyre played a key role in supplying the raw material for the early films of the National Film Unit. After nearly four years overseas, he returned home and tried his hand at independent filmmaking. McIntyre spent just over seven years with the NFU as a cameraman and director, and also worked briefly for Pacific Films.
New Zealand’s first left-wing documentary filmmaker, Cecil Holmes achieved notoriety in the late 1940s through the highly publicised exposure of his communist activity as a Public Service Association (PSA) delegate in the National Film Unit. He went on to become a significant film director in Australia.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-023573; F (detail)
Starting with the National Film Unit in 1943, Bob Allen’s career as a motion picture sound recordist covered six decades. Based in the UK from 1953, he worked with well-known directors including Fred Zinnemann (Allen's work on The Day of the Jackal was BAFTA-nominated). He returned to his homeland to share his knowledge and experience as New Zealand feature filmmaking blossomed; and later to retire.
Peter Sharp is one of New Zealand's most prolific directors of screen drama. Though his directing work covers the gamut from police shows and soap satires to live performance, Sharp is best known for his work helming kidult dramas - including Maurice Gee period tales The Fire-Raiser and The Champion. He also directed award-winning mini-series Erebus: the Aftermath.