As longtime host of primetime current affairs show Close Up, Mark Sainsbury became a household name; in 2007 the Sunday Star Times described his moustache as “the most famous in the country.” But the ginger duster doesn’t overshadow the experience and talent he’s brought to many roles over a long broadcasting career: from reporting for One News and Holmes, to officiating at Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral.
Jane Andrews founded Jam TV with Melanie Rakena in 2002. The partnership has resulted in a run of award-winning shows that brought fresh energy to local factual programming. Jam shows Off the Rails, South and the long-running Intrepid Journeys achieved high ratings and critical acclaim. In 2010 the Andrews directed and produced Radar's Patch won a Qantas award for Best Information/Lifestyle Programme.
At high school Craig Parker was "the world's most uncoordinated kid". After discovering that taking drama would mean less time in PE, he picked acting. The decision launched a 30+ year career around the globe. His screen roles include Shortland Street, Mercy Peak, and TV movie Shackleton's Captain. Since winning a keen fan base for a bit part in Lord of the Rings, he has also acted in Spartacus and Reign.
Roger Donaldson is notable for spearheading the New Zealand film renaissance with Sleeping Dogs (1977). He has been busy directing in Hollywood for much of the period since. Donaldson's first Kiwi story since acclaimed drama Smash Palace (1981) was Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) — the most successful New Zealand film on home soil until the arrival of Taika Waititi's Boy in 2010.
Catapulted to fame after tousles with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Tom Scott originally trained to be a vet. He ended up helping Murray Ball turn Footrot Flats into a hit movie. The celebrated humourist and cartoonist has also told the story of Kiwi legends Edmund Hillary and David Lange, in both TV documentaries and dramas. Scott also co-wrote Rage, a TV movie about the 1981 Springbok tour.
Though Michael Heath helped create a run of pioneering examples of the Kiwi cinema of unease, his contributions to our culture defy easy categorisation. His scripts include many films which have made a comfortable home between genres: children’s vampire tale Moonrise/Grampire, nostalgic Ronald Hugh Morrieson chiller The Scarecrow, Heath’s work with director Tony Williams, and his acclaimed song-cycle A Small Life.
Pathologist and climber Mike Gill accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on many adventures, often doubling up as participant and cameraman. In 1961 he was part of the first team to climb Nepal’s Ama Dablam; he later helped film Ed’s missions jet-boating up the Ganges, climbing the Kaipo Wall and grand traversing Mt Cook. A founding member of the Himalayan Trust, Gill wrote Himalayan Hospitals about its humanitarian work.
John Keir began his career as a TV reporter, and from the late 70s on was producing and directing an extended slate of documentaries. His CV includes docos about air crashes (Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster), war (Our Oldest Soldier), gender (Intersexion) crime (First Time in Prison) and the Treaty (Lost in Translation). His many collaborations with director Grant Lahood include two short films that won acclaim at Cannes.
Melanie Rakena partnered with Jane Andrews in 2002 to create JAM TV, who specialise in popular factual television, much of it involving travel. JAM programmes such as Intrepid Journeys, Off The Rails and Global Radar have managed to achieve both popular and critical acclaim.
Globetrotting director Dean Cornish's credit reel ranges from Intrepid Journeys to bold buildings, Extreme Tribes to Rachel Hunter, sex trafficking to This Town. Trained at Christchurch's NZ Broadcasting School, Cornish has produced films in more than 90 countries and crafted a reputation as a go-to guy for travel stories. He shared a Best Director gong at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and TV Awards for Making Tracks.