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.
Kathleen Mantel began directing television documentaries in the late 90s. Since then she has won awards in the United States for Kiwi-made docos on problem gambling (It's Not a Game), teenage pregnancy (KIDS) and the Exclusive Brethren (Leaving the Exclusive Brethren). In 2012 her doco The Green Chain won the NZ Television Award for Best Popular Documentary.
Temuera Morrison was acting on screen at age 11. Two decades later he won Kiwi TV immortality as Dr Ropata in Shortland Street, and rave global reviews as abusive husband Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. Since reprising his Warriors role in a well-regarded sequel, Morrison has starred in Crooked Earth, Tracker and Mahana, hosted a talk show and a variety show, and played Jango Fett in two Star Wars prequels.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.
Veteran producer Tom Parkinson has worked with some of New Zealand television's most popular comedians, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby, and the late Billy T James (who he discovered in an Avondale Rugby League club). He also directed adventure series Hunter's Gold — whose international success helped launch a run of Kiwi-made children's dramas — and produced many international co-productions.
Karl Urban's screen career has included dysfunctional family comedies, epic fantasies and offbeat romances — and that's only the Kiwi projects. Urban was award-nominated for films The Price of Milk and The Irrefutable Truth about Demons, and won for Out of the Blue. In recent years he has appeared in a run of Hollywood projects, including The Bourne Supremacy, Star Trek, and as Judge Dredd in Dredd 3D.
When he left Shortland Street in 2005 after 14 years and 3100 episodes, Karl Burnett was the soap's longest-serving cast member. His oft comical character Nick Harrison stole many scenes, romanced at least eight Shortland characters, and memorably watched as long-time love Waverley Wilson was kidnapped. Post-Shortland, Burnett has worked on and off camera, directed low budget film Captain Amazingly Incredible and the Space Vampires from the Evil Planet, and won a scholarship to study video games. In 2019 he won media headlines, after deciding to withdraw from TV's Celebrity Treasure Island.
Justin Pemberton's work for the screen can be split roughly into two. His eclectic and award-winning run of documentaries includes motor-racing story Love, Speed and Loss and acclaimed Olympic saga The Golden Hour. He has also worked on many music projects, from music videos to documentaries about Anika Moa and the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
Canadian-born New Zealand director Leanne Pooley has won a raft of awards for her work as a documentary filmmaker. The 2011 Arts Laureate's films include hit Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls, 3D Everest first ascent saga Beyond the Edge, and euthanasia exploration The Promise. In 2015 her film 25 April, an animated feature about Gallipoli, was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.
While still at school, Paul Middleditch was a repeat winner in an annual filmmaking competition run by childrens show Spot On. As a teenager he made music videos for artists Tex Pistol (including chart topper 'The Game of Love') and Tim Finn. Middleditch is now a highly successful commercials director based in Australia, where his work includes the celebrated Big Ad for Carlton Draught. In 2008 he returned to Wellington to direct his third feature, Tom Scott-scripted relationship drama Separation City.