Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.
One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.
Fed up with seeing animals unintentionally mishandled on set, former farm girl Caroline Girdlestone decided to do something about it. Now one of the most respected animal trainers in Australasia, she’s worked with almost any animal imaginable across more than 500 projects – ranging from the cute barnyard animals of Racing Stripes to the horrifying ovine creatures in Black Sheep.
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.
Auckland company thedownlowconcept specialise in screen material with a quirky bent. Downlow broke into television with music quiz Pop! Goes the Weasel, inspired by their radio series. They made their name with a run of award-winning short films, including Only Son, the first 48 Hour film to win at the Qantas TV Awards. Alongside long-running panel show 7 Days, they created acclaimed dog-racing comedy Hounds, and were asked to write a project for US cable network FX. Debut movie Gary of the Pacific was released downunder in March 2017. It follows a real estate agent who becomes chief of a sinking island.
Tony Manson has worked in television as a director, producer and commissioner of programmes. His specialty is factual programming - including directing for the popular Open Home and producing a wide range of documentaries.