A pioneer of computer-generated imagery in New Zealand, John Sheils helped conjure angry cave trolls, flying buzzy bees and herds of roaming TV sets. Time as a camera operator fueled his interest in images unconstrained by gravity or nature. Sheils went on to work on The Fellowship of the Ring, Perfect Creature, Spartacus, and a run of video games and adverts — plus Red Scream, NZ’s first CG short film.
Brad McGann's debut feature In My Father's Den won awards in Germany, China, England, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand; The Australian reviewer called it "one of the best films I have ever seen". McGann had earlier won acclaim for his moody fourth short Possum (1997). McGann passed away from cancer in May 2007. He was only 43.
Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.
One of New Zealand’s leading TV actors, Jeffrey Thomas was born in Wales and graduated with a Master of Literature from Oxford University. Since arriving in Wellington in 1976, his credits have included Close To Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park, Mercy Peak, Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune. In the 80s he starred in a Welsh language drama series. An award-winning playwright, he has also acted extensively on stage.
Christchurch-raised David Rittey discovered film while studying at Canterbury University's Ilam Arts School. Later he won a place at the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne. His graduation short Out of Darkness (2000) played in many international festivals, while 2004's Closer — the story of a deaf teenager dealing with his sister’s death — won a NZ Screen Award for Best Short Film. It was also nominated for best short at the Cannes Film Festival. Follow-up We the Living starred Emily Barclay (In My Father's Den). Based in Australia since 2008, Rittey has directed many commercials on both sides of the Tasman.
Simon Price grew up in Dunedin. Named most innovative graduate at Melbourne's VCA Film School, he worked in Australia for many years as a writer/director, editor and video artist before returning home to help edit King Kong. Price's feature editing credits have since included Blackspot, landmark Samoan drama The Orator, Cambodian-set fable Ruin, Pā Boys, and docos Last Men Standing and Antarctica: A Year On Ice.
Stewart Main is a director noted for his strong sense of visual style, and commitment to themes of individuality and sexuality. Alongside his own projects (including 2005 feature 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous), a fruitful partnership with Peter Wells has produced several noted dramatic and documentary films, including colonial-set bodice-ripper Desperate Remedies.
As Close to Home’s stern Don Hearte, Tony Currie became one of local television’s best known faces in the mid-1970s. The Scottish-born ex policeman got his start in historical dramas, including an award-winning portrayal of prime minister Richard Seddon. After signing on for Close to Home, Currie stayed with the soap for all of its eight years and 818 episodes, turning his hand to writing scripts along the way.
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.
New Zealand-born actor Barbara Ewing attracted early notice in 60s British horror films, and became a UK household name as buxom Agnes Fairchild on TV comedy Brass. Ewing was raised in NZ, before leaving to train at RADA in London. In 1979 she won a Feltex Award as the lead in NZ returning expat drama Rachel. Ewing has written plays and several acclaimed novels, including theatre-set bestseller The Mesmerist.