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.
Toby Mills began as an actor (eg. short films Mananui and The Find). After managing theatre company Te Rakau Hua o te Wa o Tapu, he took up directing, and in 2000 was awarded for series Nga Morehu, which profiled Māori elders. Mills works often with his partner Moana Maniapoto; together they have won awards for docos on Syd Jackson and carver Pakaariki Harrison. Mills also helmed te reo short Te Po Uriuri.
Stephen Papps won a NZ Film Award for one of his earliest screen appearances, after playing Firpo, the child-like dreamer who befriends the hero, in the movie of Bruce Mason classic The End of the Golden Weather. In 2008 he was nominated again for Russian Snark — starring as a frustrated Russian filmmaker trying to relaunch his career in NZ. Papps’ short film appearances include awardwinners Possum and Lemming Aid.
Russell Campbell has been analysing film and television for more than four decades. A longtime lecturer in film at Victoria University, Campbell’s books include Observations, a volume on New Zealand documentary — a field in which he has extensive first-hand experience.
Actor Marton Csokas came to fame in the early 90s, playing the bumbling Dr Dodds in Shortland Street. Since then he has appeared in interracial romance Broken English and coming of age story Rain, before starting a run of international roles — often as the villain — in everything from xXx to The Bourne Supremacy.
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.
Moana Maniapoto (MNZM) is a musician acclaimed for fusing traditional Māori and modern sounds (Moana and the Moahunters, Moana and the Tribe). With partner Toby Mills she has made award-winning films exploring Te Ao Māori, from cultural IP to activist Syd Jackson. Maniapoto has also appeared onscreen as a political commentator, fronted 90s kids show Yahoo, and played Doctor Aniwa Ryan on Shortland Street.
Former Mutton Birds guitarist David Long has composed music for television, a wide range of documentaries, and dramatic features (Two Little Boys, Russian Snark). After co-writing the score for 1993 feature Absent Without Leave, he went solo to compose for Home Movie and a trio of ensemble TV dramas, in the process winning screen awards for both Insiders Guides. He is also an award-winning music producer (Fur Patrol).
Actor and singer (Strawpeople) Stephanie Tauevihi started in TV at age 15, reporting for TV3 youth series InFocus. She spent seven years playing feisty paramedic Donna Heka on Shortland Street. Her fraught relationship with Rangi was a major plotline — their wedding was the centrepiece of the series’ 2000th episode. Her performance in Stephen Sinclair’s Russian Snark won her Best Supporting Actress at the 2010 Qantas Awards.
Designer and art director Lyn Bergquist has been involved in the screen industry since 1974, when he began working for TVNZ in Wellington on drama programmes and music shows. Five years later he moved to Auckland and began specialising in commercials, through his company The Art Department Ltd. His feature credits as a production designer include Russian Snark and Orphans and Kingdoms.