Thomas Sainsbury is a chameleon with an eclectic CV. He is an accomplished playwright, he co-wrote TV series Super City with Madeleine Sami and has collaborated with others on web series Stake Out, Bachelor Pad and The Video Store. As the ‘Snapchat Dude’, he is best known for using wigs and face manipulation to parody people, such as Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. Image: photo by Andi Crown
Robert Lord was writing full time at a point when few Kiwi playwrights made a living from their work. In 1988 he turned his play Bert and Maisy into a television series. He also had scriptwriting credits on TV's Peppermint Twist and big screen period drama Pictures. Lord's classic play Joyful and Triumphant was dramatised for television in 1993, soon after his death at age 46.
For three decades, playwright and critic Bruce Mason played intelligent, impassioned witness to many key developments in Kiwi theatre and culture; a number of them his own. His play The Pohutukawa Tree has spawned more than 180 productions, and was watched by 20 million after being adapted for the BBC. The End of the Golden Weather is both a classic solo play, and movie.
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.
John Anderson got busy directing a run of television dramas in the 1980s, including award-winning Polynesian road movie Mark ll, and two of the final works by playwright Bruce Mason. The onetime actor reinvented himself as a documentary filmmaker in the 90s, then relocated to Kiribati, where he worked on more than 400 films covering everything from climate change to dance. Anderson died in Kiribati on 19 August 2016.
Michelanne Forster is a playwright, scriptwriter and author, who moved from her native California to New Zealand in the 1970s. After training as a teacher, she began her career as a writer, producer and director of children’s programmes with TVNZ. She played a large part in making the long-running Play School more relevant to a Kiwi audience, and later worked on children's shows Spot On, What Now and After School.
Playwright and novelist Stephen Sinclair was part of the writing team behind Peter Jackson's bad taste duo Meet the Feebles and Braindead. Zombie tale Braindead, which began as a Sinclair idea, won a Best Script Award at the 1993 NZ Film and TV Awards. Later Sinclair wrote for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, created TV mockumentary Love Mussel, and in 2004 directed his first short film, Ride. His feature directing debut — the offbeat Russian Snark — was nominated for six Qantas film awards, including Best Director. Sinclair's work as a playwright includes co-writing global hit Ladies Night, with Anthony McCarten.
An ideas man who campaigned for a Government film body, Stanhope Andrews would become the National Film Unit's first manager. Andrews commanded the Unit for a decade. Along the way he oversaw dramatic expansion, set up regular newsreel Weekly Review, and opened the door to filmmakers of both genders.
Douglas Drury was one of a group of producers who lead an expansion of local television drama at a time — the mid 60s — where New Zealanders rarely saw their own stories on screen. Later, as second in command of state television’s drama department, he helped launch landmark series Pukemanu and initiated NZ's first situation comedy, Buck House. Drury passed away in Australia on 5 February 2016.
Roger Hall began writing and acting on television in the late 1960s. In 1976 his debut play Glide Time became a sellout. Later Hall turned this satire of bureaucrats into Gliding On, arguably New Zealand's most successful sitcom to date. Play Middle Aged Spread became a film in 1979. Hall went on to write marital comedy Conjugal Rights for English television. He remains the country's most successful playwright.