Director David Blyth has created some of New Zealand’s most graphic and challenging movies dealing with horror, sexuality, and the sub-conscious mind. His career began as an assistant director on the film Solo, but it was his first feature Angel Mine which showed his interests in pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. In his time, Blyth has made a number of documentary features, directed episodes of Close to Home and created New Zealand's first horror film Death Warmed Up.
Peter Hayden has one of the best known faces and voices in New Zealand, having presented and voiced hundreds of nature documentaries on television. His many documentary series include the hugely successful Wild South and Latitude 45. Hayden is also a successful actor and has appeared in a range of dramas including: The Fire-Raiser, Footrot Flats and Beyond Reasonable Doubt.
Rachel Lang has been one of the driving forces behind some of New Zealand’s most popular television dramas. Beginning as a story editor on 1980s dramas Shark in the Park and Open House, she moved on to Shortland Street as a story-liner and then as the show’s Executive Producer for a number of years. Lang collaborated with writer Gavin Strawhan to create the South Pacific Pictures dramas Jackson’s Wharf and Mercy Peak. Later she developed the enormously successful Outrageous Fortune, as well as Maddigan’s Quest and Go Girls.
Des Monaghan has made an enormous contribution to the television industry as a TV producer and network executive in both New Zealand and Australia. Starting as a trainee producer with the NZBC, Monaghan produced a range of pioneering current affairs shows such as Town and Around, Gallery and Compass. In more recent years, Monaghan set up Australasian production company Screentime, whose slate includes popular shows Popstars, Underbelly, Police Ten 7 and Beyond the Darklands.
Rima Te Wiata created a name for herself impersonating famous New Zealanders in comedy shows Laughinz and More Issues. Te Wiata has acted in everything from Australian soap Sons and Daughters to movie Via Satellite and — after this interview was conducted — Housebound and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
For more than two decades, Shirley Horrocks has been creating documentaries focussing on key figures from the New Zealand arts scene. Among her works are docos about photographer Marti Friedlander, artist Len Lye and playwright Roger Hall. She has also directed two science related films – Venus: A Quest and Paul Callaghan: Dancing with Atoms.
Christopher Bourn is the pioneering entertainment producer best known for his work on the classic talent series Studio One. He has also worked as a sports director, and on a range of other early TV shows. His legacy of live TV broadcasts includes directing the first ever All Black rugby test to be broadcast on television, as well as the boxing at the 1974 Commonwealth Games; and serving as New Zealand producer for international co-production The Pacific Song Contest.
Aileen O’Sullivan has a significant screen pedigree, from acting to directing, producing and – most importantly – storytelling. Her work ranges from Gloss and The Billy T James Show to Holiday and The Great New Zealand Showdown specials. Under her production company Seannachie Productions, O'Sullivan's has helmed a number of well received documentaries including Witi Ihimaera, Black Grace – From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow, Life’s a Riot and Ngaio Marsh – Crime Queen.
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.
Programmer John McCready has had a significant impact on the television industry in New Zealand. After extended time in music and radio he joined TVNZ in 1989 as Manager of Presentation and Promotion, just as TV3 came on air. The following year McCready became TVNZ's Director of Programming, and revamped both TV1 and TV2 over a four year period. He headed overseas for a while, before returning to New Zealand as Director of Programming and Marketing for Sky TV. Before retiring in 2007, McCready successfully launched The Living Channel and Food TV on Sky.