One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.
Owen Hughes segued directly from university to a job at independent production company Pacific Films. Since establishing his own company Frame Up Films in 1977, Hughes has gone on to produce 40 plus documentaries and many dramas. Along the way he has nurtured the talents of a number of directors early in their careers, including Niki Caro, Fiona Samuel and Jessica Hobbs.
Tama Poata's wide-ranging contributions to our culture can be glimpsed through his appearances on-screen: from campaigns for Māori land rights (in 1975 doco Te Matakite O Aotearoa) and against the Springbok tour (Patu!), to his many acting roles. He also directed documentaries and wrote landmark 1987 movie Ngati, the first feature written (and directed) by Māori.
Alyx Duncan has brought her skills in dance and filmmaking to art galleries and short films. Her Asian-themed video for Minuit's 'Fuji' turned many heads. Eye-opening short The Tide Keeper won awards in three countries. Duncan's choreographic work has been showcased in a number of ad campaigns. Mixing documentary and drama, her feature The Red House won acclaim after opening at the 2012 NZ Film Festival.
Veteran line producer Catherine Madigan has worked on locations ranging from the Southern Alps to Cambodia and Bougainville. Aside from varied movies for globetrotting producer Lloyd Phillips, she has produced documentaries on Georgina Beyer, Allen Curnow, Sweetwaters, and dozens of commercials. Her Sri Lankan-set post-tsunami documentary Turning the Tide opened the 2006 DOCNZ Festival.
Sam Hunt, CNZM, QSM, is arguably New Zealand's best-known, best-selling poet. The idiosyncratic Hunt published the first of many poetry collections at the age of 23. Since then he has performed across the length of the land in pubs and schools, and made music with David Kilgour and the NZ Symphony Orchestra. Hunt explored Cook Strait for 1988 documentary Catching the Tide, and can be seen touring with poet Gary McCormick in Artists Prepare andThe Roaring Forties Tour. He was also the subject of the five years in the making Sam Hunt: Purple Moon, which was released in 2011.
Alan Erson captured the everyday lives of New Zealanders in 1990s documentary series First Hand. His directing credits also include Heartland and Nuclear Reaction. Since 2004 Erson has built a successful career in Australia as Head of Documentary and Factual Programmes for the ABC, and General Manager at Essential Media and Entertainment. In 2016 he became Managing Director at WildBear Entertainment.
Although he trained as a geologist, Craig Gainsborough has gone on to accrue a run of producing credits— from music videos and commercials, to documentaries (include caving short Luckie Strike and films on ADHD and palliative care). His dramatic credits include 48 Hour Film Festival national runner-up Tide, Michael Duignan comedy Ten Thousand Days, and teenage farm-boy tale Thicket, which won the Wallace Friends of the Civic Award at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival. Gainsborough's work as director includes co-directing girl and dog story Stay.
Scots-born Erik Thomson moved to New Zealand at age seven. In the mid 90s his career took off, after he began acting in Australia. In 2004 he won an AFI award for feature Somersault, then later starred in Aussie TV hit Packed to the Rafters and NZ drama/comedy We're Here to Help. In 2016 Thomson won a Best Actor Logie for his role in TV series 800 Words, as an Australian widower who moves his family to NZ.
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.