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.
Dunedin-born Bridget Armstrong has found success in a range of British and Kiwi stage and screen roles. At 18 she joined the touring NZ Players, where she recreated characters as diverse as Anne Frank and Elizabeth I. Later in London, Armstrong showed her comedic talents and played Katherine Mansfield for the BBC. Back in New Zealand she acted on TV's Gather Your Dreams and Roger Hall film Middle Age Spread.
Wellington-born Jonathan Hardy, who died in July 2012, was an actor for more than four decades. Along the way he was on stage in New Zealand, Australia and England, and on screen in Kiwi classic The Scarecrow and a run of Australian projects. Hardy also co-wrote Constance and Aussie classic Breaker Morant, in the process becoming the first New Zealander to be nominated for a scriptwriting Academy Award.
Veteran actor Roy Billing has acted in so many films, TV shows and plays, his CV runs to more than 10 pages. Often cast as the straight-talking everyman, Billing has also provided award-winning screen portrayals of rugby-playing priests (Old Scores), drug barons (Underbelly), small-town mayors (The Dish) and avuncular judges (Rake).
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.
For Auckland-born, Christchurch-based Grant Hindin Miller, scriptwriting has been just one facet of a busy creative life. The onetime teacher has written novels, poetry, six albums of music, and the scripts for three feature films. Two of them were wartime stories: the French-set A Soldier’s Tale (adapted from the novel by MK Joseph) and Gallipoli drama Chunuk Bair (inspired by the acclaimed Maurice Shadbolt play). He also wrote Depression-era odd couple tale Starlight Hotel (based on Hindin Miller's own novel, The Dream Monger).
Between getting his start in filmmaking with the National Film Unit, and returning to New Zealand to retire, John Feeney made his name as a director at the National Film Board of Canada; he also spent 40 years filming and photographing in Egypt. Some of his NFU films were considered to be outstanding documentaries, and two of his Canadian films were nominated for Academy Awards.
Within two years of acting in kidult TV adventure Sea Urchins, Kiwi Rebecca Gibney had set up shop in Australia. There she would find fame — and a long list of awards and nominations — thanks to a television CV which includes Wanted (which she also created), Packed to the Rafters, The Flying Doctors, mini-series Come in Spinner, and 21 Halifax tele-movies as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax.
Actor Jane Thomas John co-starred in the Roger Donaldson-directed After the Depression, part of pioneering anthology series Winners and Losers. She went on to roles in dramas Close to Home and Radio Waves, and did a stint on Shortland Street. She has also acted in and produced dozens of commercials. Thomas John runs public speaking consultancy Now You’re Talking.
Barbara Magner won many fans when she brought her lively, personable style to 60s era magazine show Town and Around. Born in the Waikato, Magner began her broadcasting career on state radio, then in the 60s moved into continuity announcing on television. Further television gigs followed into the 70s. Magner passed away on 12 July 2014, at the age of 77.