Using the power of documentary film Frank Chilton made a difference to the lives of disabled children in New Zealand and around the world. The films he directed for the National Film Unit won many awards and he was honoured by the Queen with an OBE for services to the handicapped.
The films of Jim Marbrook include feature-length documentaries on speed chess maestros (2003 award-winner Dark Horse), psychiatric hospitals (Mental Notes) and environmental issues in New Caledonia (Cap Bocage). Marbrook also lectures in screen and television at Auckland University of Technology.
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.
For 20 years Kathleen O'Brien was the only woman director at the government's National Film Unit. Her films were invited to festivals overseas. Known for her work involving children and education, O'Brien's directed comical road safety short Monkey Tale (1952), and the moving Story of Seven Hundred Polish Children (1966).
Journalist, director and producer Rob Harley has won many awards in a career spanning four decades. He was a high profile investigative reporter on TVNZ’s flagship news and current affairs shows Frontline, Assignment and Sunday from 1990 to 2003, before moving into independent programme making.
English-born Graham Kerr was New Zealand’s first celebrity chef. Initially RNZAF Chief Catering Adviser, he soon found himself on television in a flamboyant persona that would come to be known as the Galloping Gourmet. He has gone on to make more than 1,800 programmes around the world – but, in later years, conversion to Christianity and family ill health have considerably toned down his performance and recipes.
In a turbulent media landscape, director/producer Kay Ellmers feels that the long-form documentary is still powerful. Her screen CV includes acclaimed doco He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, and popular series like Marae Kai Masters and Mīharo. Ellmers is Managing Director of Tūmanako Productions, and a consultant on documentary and factual programming for Māori Television.
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.
Since the late 1980s Bryan Bruce has been a prolific documentary maker and presenter. Over more than 30 documentaries, plus three seasons of The Investigator, he has cast fresh eyes on some of the most famous crimes in New Zealand’s history, and asked tough questions about the country’s economic and social trajectory.
Ray Ruawhare has worked on effects and animation for everything from NZ On Air's Eric the Goldfish to movie Predicament. In 2004 he produced From Len Lye to Gollum, a comprehensive documentary on the history of animation in New Zealand. Ruawhare was one of the founders of animation and effects conference AnimfxNZ.