Roger Donaldson is notable for spearheading the New Zealand film renaissance with Sleeping Dogs (1977). He has been busy directing in Hollywood for much of the period since. Donaldson's first Kiwi story since acclaimed drama Smash Palace (1981) was Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) — the most successful New Zealand film on home soil until the arrival of Taika Waititi's Boy in 2010.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed pioneering live talk shows (Town Cryer), singing on stage and screen, and extended time in the United States. After a busy decade of television presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows —before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.
Annie Goldson, NZOM, is probably New Zealand's most awarded documentary filmmaker. Her work — including the feature-length An Island Calling, Brother Number One and Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web — often examines the political through the personal. Goldson's films have played widely overseas, and won awards in New Zealand, England, Spain, France, the Philippines and the United States.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Sky Television chief John Fellet began a long tenure in pay television after abandoning hopes of becoming a professional baseballer, and realising accountancy was “a terrible career choice”. Arizona-raised Fellet joined the pay television company as Chief Operating Officer in 1991, and has been Sky’s Chief Executive since 2001. Fellet is set to leave Sky in late 2018.
Robert Lord was writing full time at a point when few Kiwi playwrights made a living from their work. In 1988 he turned his play Bert and Maisy into a television series. He also had scriptwriting credits on TV's Peppermint Twist and big screen period drama Pictures. Lord's classic play Joyful and Triumphant was dramatised for television in 1993, soon after his death at age 46.
Brother of pioneering aviator Jean Batten, Rotorua-born John Batten began acting in films while living in the United States. By the 1930s he was winning starring roles in England, including The Great Game and submarine drama Men Like This. Later he appeared in his only known New Zealand film, Rudall Hayward short Song of the Wanganui. Batten passed away in England in 1993.
Trailblazing broadcaster Shirley Maddock, ONZM, was making and presenting television in 1960, when the medium first began in New Zealand. After doing theatre in London and radio in New York, she went on to produce and present a series of documentaries in her homeland, and wrote a bestselling book to accompany 1964 series Islands of the Gulf. Maddock passed away on 10 October 2001. She was 72.
Harry Sinclair first won fame as a member of beloved 80s multimedia duo The Front Lawn; whose shorts included Walkshort, Linda's Body and The Lounge Bar. Starting with Topless Women Talk about Their Lives, the first of three features exploring 'modern love', Sinclair displayed his talent for offbeat humour and improvisation, and his belief in the creative importance of the actor.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first New Zealand feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised drama Sylvia, based on teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of 1985's best films. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.