Toby Mills began as an actor (eg. short films Mananui and The Find). After managing theatre company Te Rakau Hua o te Wa o Tapu, he took up directing, and in 2000 was awarded for series Nga Morehu, which profiled Māori elders. Mills works often with his partner Moana Maniapoto; together they have won awards for docos on Syd Jackson and carver Pakaariki Harrison. Mills also helmed te reo short Te Po Uriuri.
In a turbulent media landscape, director/producer Kay Ellmers feels that the long-form documentary is still powerful. Her screen CV includes acclaimed doco He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, and popular series like Marae Kai Masters and Mīharo. Ellmers is Managing Director of Tūmanako Productions, and a consultant on documentary and factual programming for Māori Television.
Named Head of the Internal Production Department at TVNZ while still in her late 20s, Dana Youngman first worked her way up the producing ladder on lifestyle shows like Maggie’s Garden Show and A Taste of Home. Since then she has worked on New Zealand’s Got Talent and Whānau Living, and helped create a cooking show with Annabel Langbein which screened in more than 80 countries.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
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.
Jim Moriarty's screen career has ranged from 70s soap Close to Home and Rowley Habib's The Protestors, to starring in mock-doco The Waimate Conspiracy and playing Dad in The Strength of Water. Committed to theatre as a tool for change, he has often worked with troubled youth (eg 2003 documentary Make or Break). Moriarty's directing work includes TV's Mataku, and a stage musical of Once Were Warriors.
Errol Wright has co-directed a run of festival-selected documentaries with Abi King-Jones, under their CutCutCut Films banner: Te Whānau o Aotearoa, The Last Resort, Operation 8 and The 5th Eye (which examine homelessness, land sales, the 2007 terror raids and surveillance respectively). Wright has also been a camera operator for Alister Barry documentaries (Hollow Men, Hot Air) and television news.
Schooled at Unitec, Auckland University and Juice TV, King-Jones has made a run of NZ film festival-selected documentaries in partnership with Errol Wright: Te Whānau o Aotearoa, The Last Resort, Operation 8 and The 5th Eye (about homelessness, land sales, terror raids and surveillance respectively). With Alister Barry, she co-directed the award-nominated Hot Air; she also edited his A Civilised Society.
New Plymouth born Katie Wolfe has made the transition from actor to director. After leading roles in Marlin Bay, Cover Story, and Mercy Peak she stepped behind the camera in 2002, directing on Shortland Street. In 2008 she directed her first short film This Is Her, which screened at festivals around the globe. Wolfe's adaptation of Witi Ihimaera novel Nights in the Garden of Spain screened on TV in January 2011.
Cinco Cine founder Nicole Hoey began her screen career in commercials, then produced 1995 telemovie Dead Certs. By the 21st century Cinco Cine was starting on te reo heavy youth show Pūkana, which was nominated for Best Children’s TV Programme at the New Zealand TV Awards in 2002. Hoey has continued to work on te reo broadcasting, and also produced TV movie Nights In The Gardens Of Spain.