Ngila Dickson, ONZM, has designed costumes for vampires, university professors, fertility cults, and wizards in pointy hats. And that's only counting the work she has done for Kiwi filmmakers. Since sharing an Academy Award and a BAFTA for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson has contributed her costume prowess to movies in Japan, Germany, South Africa and Los Angeles.
John Knowles has held many leadership roles in broadcasting, and worked around the world. Ask Knowles to name his highlight and he’s very clear — being TVNZ's Head of Sport at precisely the right time. In 1979 he was one of the only television reporters to visit Antartica, to report on the Mount Erebus disaster.
Welsh-born James Harris played an important role in the founding of the National Film Unit in 1941. A well-educated, versatile filmmaker equally at home behind the camera, operating a splicer or wielding a pen, he spent 26 years with the NFU, mostly as a senior director. Photo credit: Archives New Zealand, reference AAQT 6401 A23,729
Geoff Steven's career spans documentary, experimental film and photography. In 1978, he directed acclaimed feature Skin Deep, the first major investment by the newly established NZ Film Commission. Steven followed it with Strata and a long run of documentaries, before time as a TV executive at both TV3 and TVNZ. He now heads the Our Place World Heritage Project.
Graeme Wilson began working in New Zealand television in the 1960s. Later he was one of the very first members of TVNZ's Natural History Unit (now NHNZ). Wilson stayed on in state television through many changes, revamps and alterations — a number of which he was asked to introduce— before heading up an international broadcasting network Jupiter Television in Japan.
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.
Roger Mirams helped launch legendary independent company Pacific Films in 1948, and went on to co-direct Broken Barrier in 1952 with John O'Shea — the only Kiwi feature made that decade. In 1957, Mirams set up a Pacific Films branch in Melbourne. Over the next five decades he won a reputation in Australia for his children's TV shows. Mirams was still working in his 80s; he passed away in February 2004.
Twenty-five plus years spent working in Māori tourism proved valuable when Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble moved into television production. The Rotorua local was used to managing people and events, so making TV shows was a natural fit. Now general manager for Kura Productions, Waaka-Tibble has produced nine seasons of children's te reo show Pūkoro, and was line producer on movie Mt Zion.
James Blick packed in a job as a lawyer in Auckland to get into filmmaking. His first short, relationship drama Us, was nominated for Best Short Film and Best Script at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards (Alison Bruce was named Best Actor). Follow-up Roof Rattling, starring Grant Tilly, was invited to festivals in France, Japan and the United States. Married to a Spaniard, Blick directed adverts downunder before relocating to Madrid in 2011. Soon after he co-founded a tour company, then in 2013 launched YouTube channel Spain Revealed. Since then Blick has made and presented dozens of videos about Spain and its cuisine.
Jayashree Panjabi began her television career in 1980 as a presenter on children's staple Play School, which she later returned to direct. During (and after) eight years with programme powerhouse NHNZ, Panjabi directed and produced documentaries around the world.