After beginning her career as a television journalist, Amanda Robertshawe has gone on to direct acclaimed documentaries on challenging issues like addiction (The Dark Side of the Moon), confronting death from cancer (My Name is Jane) and sexual responsibility (Is There Anybody Out There?). Her films reflect a fascination with the emotional consequences of life experiences.
Jacob Rajan’s play Krishnan’s Diary was a breakout success, named 1997 Chapman Tripp production of the year. Through company Indian Ink, the Malaysian-born, Kiwi-raised Rajan has since co-created and starred in a series of plays, winning sellout performances, awards in Edinburgh and a renowned American agent. He has also acted on screen in Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and starred in award-winning Fish Skin Suit.
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.
Producer Lloyd Phillips won an Academy Award in 1981, for short film The Dollar Bottom. South African-born Phillips was raised in New Zealand, where his first feature, Battletruck, was shot. He went on to establish a globetrotting Hollywood career, working on The Legend of Zorro, 12 Monkeys, Inglourious Basterds and Vertical Limit (also shot in New Zealand). Phillips died of a heart attack on 25 January 2013.
From The Governor to The Lord of the Rings, Martyn Sanderson's distinctive voice and sideburns were part of New Zealand's screen landscape for three decades. His work ranged from the experimental to the mainstream, including directing feature films (Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree) and personal documentaries.
Geoff Steven's career spans documentary, experimental film and photography. In 1978, he directed acclaimed feature Skin Deep, the first major investment by the newly established NZ Film Commission. Steven followed it with Strata and a long run of documentaries, before time as a TV executive at both TV3 and TVNZ. He now heads the Our Place World Heritage Project.
Actor, singer, and comedian Annie Whittle first won television fame on 70s comedy classic A Week of It. Since then she has presented a run of shows, had her own musical special, and acted alongside the likes of Billy T James, Miranda Harcourt, George Henare, and Anthony Hopkins.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Australian-raised Melanie Rodriga (née Read) moved to New Zealand in 1977, and worked as an editor. After adapting Keri Hulme story Hooks and Feelers, she wrote and directed feminist thriller Trial Run in 1983. In 1988 Rodriga was a best director finalist for pioneering TV drama The Marching Girls. Rodriga now lectures in film at Perth’s Murdoch University and continues to make and develop films.
Sima Urale, Samoa’s first female filmmaker, has brought touching stories of Pacific peoples to the screen, often from an NZ outsider’s point of view. Urale credits her film success to determination and dealing with social issues close to her heart. Her lauded shorts (O Tamaiti, Still Life) were followed by her 2008 feature debut Apron Strings. Urale has also spent time as head tutor at Wellington's NZ Film and Television School.