Special effects man and designer Richard Taylor got his break making puppets for 80s TV series Public Eye. He has gone on to become a key part of the Weta effects empire, supervising the creation of orcs, zombie mishaps and miniature cityscapes for a run of movies and TV shows. A passionate advocate for Kiwi talent, Taylor and his team have scored three New Zealand film awards, four BAFTAS and five Academy Awards.
Douglas Drury was one of a group of producers who lead an expansion of local television drama at a time — the mid 60s — where New Zealanders rarely saw their own stories on screen. Later, as second in command of state television’s drama department, he helped launch landmark series Pukemanu and initiated NZ's first situation comedy, Buck House. Drury passed away in Australia on 5 February 2016.
Jeremy Dillon began as an actor, did time as a children's show host and found his true calling as the creator of the friendly monsters seen on shows like The Moe Show and Pop-Up. In 2010 he set up production company Pop-Up Workshop, with friend Zane Holmes.
Fascinated by every stage of the television process, Zane Holmes began in the backroom as an editor and has gone on to stints in producing, directing and visual effects. After getting his directing break on hit Being Eve, he later joined Jeremy Dillon as a partner in company Pop-Up Workshop,which specialises in shows for children. They followed series Pop-Up with The Moe Show, starring a friendly creature with big ears.
While still in his 20s Chris Thomson was given command of a number of landmark local TV dramas, including genre-hopping colonial tale The Killing of Kane and The Alpha Plan (1969), New Zealand’s first dramatic television series. After time working for the BBC, he moved to Australia and began a long and busy career as a director, including credits on high profile mini-series 1915 and Waterfront. Thomson died on 1 July 2015.
Liz Mitchell has designed costumes for catwalk, TV and Kiwis striding the red carpet at the Oscars. Her screen credits include power-dressing soap Gloss, and Front Lawn classic Walkshort. She now masterminds the creation of a range of clothing designs, from high end to Farmers, through fashion label Liz Mitchell. She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005, for services to the fashion industry.
Kathryn Burnett is a screenwriter, playwright and script consultant. Her scriptwriting credits include The Cul de Sac, and award-winners The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, The Strip, Holly's Heroes and short film Shelved. Past recipient of a British Council television scholarship, Burnett co-created 2009 drama series The Cult. She also teaches screenwriting workshops.
The multi-talented Jackie van Beek emerged from Wellington’s 90s theatre scene. After directing a run of award-winning shorts, her first feature The Inland Road was invited to the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. She went on to co-direct, co-write and co-star in comedy The Breaker Upperers, with Madeleine Sami. As an actor, van Beek is probably best known for her role in What We Do in the Shadows, as a vampire groupie.
Vanessa Alexander attracted attention as a rookie director with her low-budget feature Magik and Rose (made when she was just 28). She has compiled an impressive list of achievements as producer (Being Eve, Cargo), director (opening episodes of Outrageous Fortune) writer (Agent Anna), script editor and mentor, and lecturer at the University of Auckland. Alexander currently lives and works in Australia.
The founding member of Oscar-winning special effects house Weta Digital, George Port laboured for seven months solo on the digital effects for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. He went on to found Auckland effects company PRPVFX, which has supplied special effects for Xena: Warrior Princess, Rain of the Children and Green Lantern.