Celebrated actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand began her career as a child and made her screen debut on Paul Maunder-directed Gone Up North for a While aged nine. In her teens she played rebellious Jan in soap opera Close to Home, attended drama school, and on venturing into the professional world, started winning roles, including TV series Seekers, with Temuera Morrision. Her film roles include the colonial glamour drama Desperate Remedies.
After making his screen debut in 1988 on Margaret Mahy TV series Strangers, actor Martin Henderson spent three years on Shortland Street playing Stuart Nielsen, then moved on to Australia and later the United States. Since then he has acted everywhere from India to Sweden, and in everything from horror (The Ring) to musicals (Bride and Prejudice) to TV’s House MD. His work as Cate Blanchett’s disabled brother in drama Little Fish saw him nominated for an Australian Film Institute supporting actor award. Variety magazine called his performance 'a revelation'.
Temuera Morrison is best known for one of New Zealand’s most graphic film performances: Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. He reprised his role in the redemption sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? Before the Warriors films, Morrison played Dr Hone Ropata in the long-running soap Shortland Street. He has appeared in a range of TV productions and a number of Hollywood films including the Star Wars franchise.
Michele Fantl has produced a number of acclaimed telemovies, features and documentaries. Along the way, she has worked extensively with writer/directors Peter Wells, Stewart Main, Garth Maxwell and Fiona Samuel. Her screen credits include movies When Love Comes and 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous, and award-winning Katherine Mansfield tele-feature Bliss.
Hori Ahipene became a 1990s comedy fixture after working on Skitz, The Semisis (the first Pasifika sitcom) and bilingual sitcom Radio Wha Waho.
Actor turned writer/director Fiona Samuel broke from convention by putting women in the spotlight with her TV series The Marching Girls.
For roughly three decades Vincent Burke has been the man behind Top Shelf Productions. In that time he has helmed an impressive line up of screen projects. Among them are TV shows An Immigrant Nation, All About Eve, Cinema of Unease, Flatmates and Target.
Chris Dudman is an award-winning filmmaker with credits in New Zealand and the UK. His short film Blackwater Summer was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Dudman has gone on to direct both documentary (New Zealand at War, The Day that Changed My Life, Zoo) and drama (Oscar Kightley police show Harry, short film Choice Night). Dudman also directs TV commercials, including the popular Pukeko ads for Genesis Energy.
Kura Forrester's comedy star is on the rise after winning the 2019 Billy T James Award.
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.