Richard Thomas has a passion for documentary. After directing for the BBC's legendary doco series Man Alive, he moved downunder and became head of Television One’s information programme department. Following a short spell as Director of Television at the ABC in Australia, he settled in New Zealand to make some compelling television documentaries — and inspire others to do the same.
Cliff Curtis alternates a busy diet of acting in the United States (where he's forged a reputation as the actor to call on, for roles of varied ethnicity) with smaller scale New Zealand projects — including co-producing Taika Waititi smash Boy. His CV of Kiwi classics includes playing Pai's father in Whale Rider, Uncle Bully on Once Were Warriors, and bipolar chess champion Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse.
If director and producer Peter Coates was a superhero, he’d surely be ‘Renaissance Man’. His contribution to championing the arts on television is arguably heroic, and his career multi-faceted. From 1971 to 2004 Coates produced, directed or scripted hundreds of TV productions covering a smorgasbord of topics, from operas to soap operas, and from portraits of New Zealand artists to rugby coaching films.
Ken Blackburn, MNZM, is a familiar face on New Zealand stage and screen. In a career spanning 50+ years he's appeared in iconic television shows (Gliding On, Shortland Street) and films — including a lead role in 1978 feature Skin Deep. Blackburn was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005; in 2017 he received the a Lifetime Achievement award, acknowledging long-serving local actors.
Veteran Australian-born producer Phil Wallington has 50 plus years of screen credits. A 1989 shift to New Zealand following 23 years at Australia’s ABC news saw him take on a run of executive producer roles on current affairs shows; he helped produce the controversial 1990 Frontline report on Labour Party campaign funding. The Top Shelf producer is also a regular media commentator.
From trainee reporter to TVNZ’s Head of Television and then on to Managing Director of Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service, Shaun Brown’s career spanned 45 years. And all but four of those years were linked directly to public broadcasting. While the latter half of his career saw him increasingly taking on executive roles, he brought with him the experience of having worked at almost every level of the business.
With Hunter's Gold, Gather Your Dreams and Children of Fire Mountain, Roger Simpson blazed a successful trail for Kiwi drama shows aimed at a younger audience. Though he has written further New Zealand projects, Simpson relocated to Australia in the early 70s. Since then he has written and produced on a long run of television dramas, most often alongside producing partner Roger Le Mesurier.
Irene Gardiner is known for her work as a producer, TVNZ production unit head and commissioning editor. She has particular expertise in the area of popular factual programmes and documentaries. Gardiner also has a sideline career as a commentator on media issues on radio and television. She was NZ On Screen's Content Director from 2009 to 2016.
Rachael Blampied’s screen roles range from war heroine to unhinged surgeon. Northland-raised Blampied graduated in acting from Unitec in 2006. She found fame on Shortland Street in 2011 as Doctor Bree Hamilton, the disturbed and manipulative sister of Beth Allen's character. In 2013 Blampied starred as Nancy Wake, the Kiwi-born hero of the French Resistance, in TV's Nancy Wake: The White Mouse. She has also acted in The Almighty Johnsons, Dirty Laundry and the NZ edition of Underbelly. For Outward Bound satire Darryl, the passionate snowboarder went outdoors to play a hard-nosed human resources manager.
Working with his brother Phill, Jeff Simmonds has created a run of quirky ‘documation’ films, which retell real-life stories using traditional 2D-style animation. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Phill) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and disintegrating band chronicle The Paselode Story.