Vincent Ward has won an international reputation as an original and visionary filmmaker. Vigil and The Navigator played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival (the first New Zealand features to do so). Docudrama Rain of the Children (2008) revisited people from his 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone. Ward also directed Robin Williams afterlife drama What Dreams May Come.
Hamish McFarlane's screen career began when he was only 11 — he won a NZ Film Award after starring as a boy on a quest for survival, in Vincent Ward classic The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey. After co-starring in kidult show Strangers and a few further screen roles, he moved behind the camera to be an assistant director. Since then he has worked on both TV and movies, including Super City and The Dead Lands.
During his career as a production designer, Rob Gillies has drafted plans for subterranean caverns (Under the Mountain), 60s era Kiwi garages (The World's Fastest Indian) and a slew of palaces, forts and magical kingdoms. Along the way he has won awards for a number of productions, including Fastest Indian and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Part of a well-known Kiwi arts family, Josh Frizzell’s screen apprenticeship involved props and design; one early gig saw him delivering prop machine guns up the Shotover River by helicopter. He went on to direct a run of music videos in the 1990s, including award-winners for Emma Paki and Shihad. Frizzell has gone on to helm episodes of The Brokenwood Mysteries and Fresh Eggs, plus TV movie Ablaze, about the 1949 Ballantyne's fire. His advertising work includes multiple inflight safety campaigns for Air New Zealand, and a break-in at the Tui Brewery. He is one of the owners of Trans-Tasman commercials company Eight.
Sarah Peirse is a multi-award winning actor on screen and stage, best known for her portrayals of two very different mothers — the kind-hearted Honorah Rieper in Heavenly Creatures, and the disaffected sophisticate in Rain. Peirse has also won awards for Vincent Ward’s The Navigator, and one of her earliest starring roles: A Woman of Good Character.
Greg Stitt has worked extensively as a filmmaker on both sides of the Tasman. Aside from many documentaries, he also directed the shorts Fastest Gun Down-Under and Just Me & Mario, the tale of a young man obsessed with singer Mario Lanza.
Journalist/writer Geoff Chapple won an NZ Film Award for Vincent Ward's acclaimed fantasy The Navigator. Chapple co-wrote the script, and also co-authored Ward's book Edge of the Earth. Chapple's other books include Rewi Alley of China, written after working with Alley on docos Gung Ho and The Humble Force. Chapple is an ex member of percussion ensemble From Scratch, and creator of national walking trail Te Araroa.
Council drainlayer Noel Appleby first won fame after starring in an 80s Winstone commercial, pushing a wheelbarrow. After a bit part in Beyond Reasonable Doubt, he was picked to play one of the time-travellers in acclaimed Vincent Ward fantasy The Navigator, adding to the film’s impressive awards tally in the process. Later he hunted vampires in Moonrise, and was a taxi-driver in Old Bastards. Appleby died in May 2007.
Auckland-born Jay Laga’aia is the proverbial man of many talents. A busy trans-Tasman career as actor/performer has seen him performing on stage (The Lion King) and screen (Street Legal, Water Rats, Star Wars).
A key player behind the scenes, Gary Hannam’s ability to find and exploit mechanisms for financing movies was a key driver in the rapid growth of the NZ film industry during the 1980s.