Special effects man and designer Richard Taylor got his break making puppets for 1980s comedy series Public Eye. He has gone on to become a key part of the Weta effects empire, supervising the creation of orcs, zombie mishaps and miniature cities for movies and TV shows. A passionate advocate for Kiwi talent, Taylor and his team have scored five New Zealand screen awards, four BAFTAS and five Academy Awards.
A pioneer of computer-generated imagery in New Zealand, John Sheils helped conjure angry cave trolls, flying buzzy bees and herds of roaming TV sets. Time as a camera operator fueled his interest in images unconstrained by gravity or nature. Sheils went on to work on The Fellowship of the Ring, Perfect Creature, Spartacus, and a run of video games and adverts — plus Red Scream, NZ’s first CG short film.
Writer Rachel Lang, MNZM, has played a major hand in a host of New Zealand television dramas, including Outrageous Fortune, the iconic saga of a West Auckland family trying to go straight. Her CV also includes the long-running Go Girls, small town dramas Jackson's Wharf and Mercy Peak, plus Westside, The Almighty Johnsons, This is Not My Life, Filthy Rich and The Blue Rose.
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.
Former Spot On presenter Ian Taylor, CNZM, is the founder of computer graphics company Animation Research Limited. ARL made its name providing real-time sports graphics at the 1992 America's Cup, and has gone on to apply their technology to golf, cricket, tennis and Formula One car-racing around the globe.
Writer James Griffin has been pivotal in an eye-opening proportion of the successful TV comedies and dramas made in New Zealand since the mid 1980s. His credits stretch from Gloss to award-winner 800 Words and big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. Working alongside writer Rachel Lang, he also co-created Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune and hit show The Almighty Johnsons.
Award-winning scribe Gavin Strawhan is one of the most experienced screenwriters working in New Zealand television. His extended resume includes writing for, and helping create TV shows Nothing Trivial, Filthy Rich, Jackson's Wharf, Mercy Peak, Burying Brian, kidult hit Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch and futuristic thriller This is Not My Life. He also co-wrote 2010 feature film Matariki.
Although better known as a songwriter and a spirited champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced both cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. He passed away on 3 December 2019.
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.
Fiona Samuel, MNZM, has worked prolifically across so many fields that she defies labels. Aside from acting on stage and screen, she is a playwright (The Wedding Party), director (TV movies Bliss and Piece of My Heart), scriptwriter (Consent, Outrageous Fortune) and singer (musical revue Babes in the Mood).