Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland have stacked up so many awards for their film and television work, they must be running out of places to store them. The writer/directors and long-time friends (since their Kapiti Coast childhood) have made hit short films, the feature Shopping, and worked on their own separate projects as well as their successful collaborations.
Michael Heath's imagination has spawned movies bursting with murder and mayhem, as well as lyrical tales of childhood and unheralded artists. Heath's work ranges widely – some of his films are lyrical, comical and murderous all at the same time. His scripts include two contenders for New Zealand's first horror film (Death Warmed Up and Next of Kin), plus an affectionate adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson classic The Scarecrow, which was the first Kiwi movie invited to the Cannes Film Festival. In recent years Heath has blossomed from writer into director.
Veteran cameraman Richard S Long has captured images everywhere from Singapore to the Southern Alps. Long's career began by shooting news for TVNZ in the mid 1970s. He then moved on to filming lifestyle and drama programmes like Heroes and Holiday. Long also did extended time directing commercials in Asia, before returning home and writing and directing his first feature Not for Children.
Director Niki Caro has made movies in East Coast townships, French vineyards, and Minnesota coal mines. Although feature films Memory and Desire and the breakthrough hit Whale Rider made Caro’s international name, her early career was also rich, and much of it can be sampled on NZ On Screen.
Producer Bridget Ikin has long been a champion for women in the screen industry. Working on both sides of the Tasman, she has collaborated with many influential creatives including Jane Campion, Alison Maclean, Stewart Main, Australian director Sarah Watt, and writers Eleanor Catton and Emily Perkins.
Lindsay Shelton's career testifies to his love of communicating, and his love of film. After working in newspapers he began a decade programming the Wellington Film Festival, while working in television news. In 1979 he joined the New Zealand Film Commission: over the next 22 years he was an enthusiastic promoter and salesman for New Zealand film around the globe.
Canadian-born to New Zealand parents, writer and director Alison Maclean helmed one of the most successful NZ Film Commission-funded short films of all time, Kitchen Sink, which debuted at Cannes and won eight international awards. A graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts, she has directed feature films Crush (which she also wrote) and Jesus’ Son. A director of commercials and television series including Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, Maclean divides her time between New York, Canada and New Zealand, and she is developing several feature films.
Sam Pillsbury is a self-described American-Kiwi who has made films in both New Zealand and the US. He began his prolific career at the National Film Unit directing the notable documentaries Ralph Hotere and Men and Supermen. Pillsbury’s first feature film was The Scarecrow, starring John Carradine, which was the first New Zealand film to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Pillsbury co-wrote the script for The Quiet Earth, but 'fired himself' from the director role on the movie. His next major film was Starlight Hotel.
Vincent Ward has won an international reputation as one of New Zealand's most original and visionary filmmakers. Vigil and The Navigator played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival (the first Kiwi films to do so). In Hollywood, Ward made Robin Williams afterlife drama What Dreams May Come. Urewera-set docu-drama Rain of the Children in 2008 revisited characters from Ward's 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone.
In his early career, feature film director Roger Donaldson put himself in risky positions while filming adventure documentaries, including The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary. With his friend Ian Mune, he created Winners & Losers, a landmark series of dramas based on stories by New Zealand writers, which in turn inspired the pair to adapt CK Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream into feature film Sleeping Dogs. The major turning point in Donaldson’s career was his feature Smash Palace, which screened at Cannes and earned rave reviews. Since Smash Palace, Donaldson has thrived in Hollywood, working with notable actors including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. He returned to New Zealand to make the Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.