Since the 1970s John Barnett has brought a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg and Footrot Flats, to Whale Rider, Sione's Wedding and Outrageous Fortune. As boss of production company South Pacific Pictures for 24 years, he was a driving force behind some of our landmark television dramas and feature films.
Veteran producer and production designer Grahame McLean helped organise the shoots of a run of landmark Kiwi productions, from The Games Affair to Sleeping Dogs. Later he brought TV success Worzel Gummidge down under, and became the first — and will likely long remain one of the few — New Zealanders to direct two feature films back to back.
After working at the National Film Unit, the BBC and Canada's National Film Board, John Laing made his feature film debut as a director with Arthur Allan Thomas drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980). Since then he has directed another six features, and many television shows and tele-movies. Laing has also produced for both Outrageous Fortune and Mercy Peak.
Pat Cox has been bringing television commercials to the screen since the 1970s. As a producer, he was instrumental in turning longrunning comic strip Footrot Flats into an animated feature. Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tale went on to become the most successful New Zealand feature of the 1980s.
Kelly Martin is chief executive of leading New Zealand production company South Pacific Pictures. Martin rose through the network ranks from photocopying to international acquisitions, before she became director of programming at TV3 — where she oversaw local drama successes like Outrageous Fortune, and comedy hits bro’Town and 7 Days. In 2012 she left TV3 to head up South Pacific Pictures.
Vanessa Alexander attracted attention as a rookie director with her low-budget feature Magik and Rose. Since then she has compiled an impressive list of achievements as a producer (Being Eve, Cargo), director (the opening episodes of Outrageous Fortune and Agent Anna) writer (Love Child), script editor, and lecturer. These days Alexander works in Australian television.
Award-winning scribe Gavin Strawhan is one of the most experienced screenwriters working in New Zealand television. His extended resume includes writing for, and helping create TV shows Nothing Trivial, Filthy Rich, Jackson's Wharf, Mercy Peak, Burying Brian, kidult hit Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch and futuristic thriller This is Not My Life. He also co-wrote 2010 feature film Matariki.
Writer James Griffin has played a key part in an eye-opening proportion of the successful TV comedies and dramas made in New Zealand since the mid 1980s. His credits stretch from Gloss and The Almighty Johnsons, to award-winner 800 Words and big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. Working alongside writer Rachel Lang, he also co-created Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune and its prequel series Westside.
A clever thinker whose love of stories bridged the gap between art and commerce, producer Don 'Scrubbs' Blakeney helped set the NZ film industry on a path of rapid expansion, and financed such pioneering films as Utu and Goodbye Pork Pie.
Margaret Mahy was a renowned author of children's books who also wrote for television. Amongst her many international awards is the Hans Christian Andersen Award (known as the Little Nobel Prize) for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". A highly visual writer, Mahy both wrote for the screen (Maddigan's Quest, Strangers), and her books inspired a number of programmes. She passed away on 23 July 2012.