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).
Producer Lloyd Phillips won an Academy Award in 1981, for short film The Dollar Bottom. South African-born Phillips was raised in New Zealand, where his first feature, Battletruck, was shot. He went on to establish a globetrotting Hollywood career, working on The Legend of Zorro, 12 Monkeys, Inglourious Basterds and Vertical Limit (also shot in New Zealand). Phillips died of a heart attack on 25 January 2013.
Tongan-Kiwi comedian Josh Thomson won attention after starring in 48 Hour short films Only Son and Brown Peril. Along with acting (Hounds) and appearances on comedy show 7 Days, Thomson is also an editor and director. In 2017 he starred in movie Gary of the Pacific, as a hapless real estate agent turned Pacific Island chief. The same year, he joined Three's primetime news show The Project.
Dunedin-born actor Colin Tapley found character parts gave his movie career longevity. Tapley argued that the average time for a leading man in 1930s Hollywood was seven years. He played supporting roles in pre-World War II Hollywood films, and after the war extended his career into the late 60s with performances in British movies and TV. His best remembered film is 1955 classic The Dam Busters.
A cameraman with over 50 years experience, Michael O’Connor joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee straight from high school. O'Connor went on to shoot some of New Zealand's most iconic dramas, from Under the Mountain to 1980s cop show Mortimer's Patch. His documentary work includes popular series Heartland and Epitaph, and directing Dalvanius, about singer Dalvanius Prime.
Novelist and poet Anne Kennedy co-wrote two of the most acclaimed episodes of 1980s anthology series About Face: Danny and Raewyn, and Jewel's Darl. Jewel was based on Kennedy's first published short story, which won the Katherine Mansfield Award in 1983. She followed it by co-writing Alison Maclean's first feature Crush. Later Kennedy's script for detective tale The Monkey's Mask was nominated for two Australian awards.
Wayne Tourell is a prime contender for having the longest CV of any director in local television. Tourell began as an actor and presenter. The multiple Feltex award-winner has gone on to direct documentaries (Landmarks, Moriori), drink driving campaigns, teen movie Bonjour Timothy — not to mention episodes of Mortimer’s Patch, Shortland Street, Gloss and his beloved legal drama Hanlon.
David Stubbs is co-creator of Emmy-winning web series Reservoir Hill, and three seasons of Girl vs Boy. After starting his screen career as an editor at the National Film Unit, Stubbs began directing an eclectic range of commercials, music videos, documentaries and dramas — including Moa Award-winner Belief and musical Daffodils. In 2009 he set up company KHF Media, with actor turned director Thomas Robins.
Jane Campion is one of the most dynamic — and applauded — filmmakers to emerge from Australasia. Campion's CV includes Cannes-winning road trip Peel, An Angel at My Table, based on the life of writer Janet Frame, and award-winning mini-series Top of the Lake. With her twisted settler romance The Piano (1993), she became the first woman to take the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following.