Since the 1970s, producer John Barnett has been instrumental in bringing a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg to Footrot Flats, from Whale Rider to Sione’s Wedding and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?, from iconic soap Shortland Street to the wildly successful Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune.
David Harry Baldock’s long TV career includes submarines, sea rescues, ailing prime ministers and psychics. The onetime editor began making his mark as a director and producer on current affairs and a run of documentaries. In 1988 he left state television to launch production company Ninox, whose prolific output would grow to include Sensing Murder, Mitre 10 Dream Home, award-winner Pacific Rescue and ambitious documentary series Our People Our Century.
Producer Elizabeth Mitchell set up Firehorse Films to produce the popular TV3 animated comedy series bro'Town. Mitchell was a print journalist turned television promotions director, and her only experience in animation prior to bro'Town was a TV ad on the white spotted tussock moth.
Ainsley Gardiner (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa) fell in love with the magic of the big screen while growing up in Whakatane, where you could find her most Fridays at the local cinema catching the latest release. Her first formal foray into film and television came in 1995 when she joined producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions, eventually producing low budget feature Kombi Nation (2003) and co-producing the 26-part comedy/drama TV series Love Bites (2002). Following the demise of Kahukura, Gardiner teamed up with Taika Waititi to work on Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night. Soon after that she established Whenua Films with actor/producer Cliff Curtis. Together the trio struck creative gold with World War II short Tama Tū, Waititi's debut feature Eagle vs Shark and box office hit Boy.
Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story author Helene Wong grew up in 1950s Aotearoa, and has worked in the arts as a performer, writer, and film critic. She discusses her varied career in this Funny As interview, including: Growing up with radio comedy, being the class clown at school, and realising that you could make people laugh with voices and accents The university capping review being a revelation and a liberation — presenting an opportunity to deal with issues and being more than just "prancing about on the stage" How the introduction of television meant being able to see politicians — "their physicality, their flaws and their body language" – providing wonderful source material for satirists Working with Roger Hall, John Clarke, Dave Smith and Catherine Downes on university revue One in Five, and mimicking three-screen promotional film This is New Zealand to open the show Working for Prime Minister Robert Muldoon in the 70s as a social policy advisor – despite spending “the previous few years having a lot of fun satirising him”– and feeling that he had a "kind of dark force field around him" Reaching a turning point in comedy about Asians in New Zealand; Asians have started to "take back the power" and "as opposed to encouraging audiences to laugh at us, we’re now getting them to laugh with us"
Robert Boyd-Bell has made a huge contribution to the development of TV news reporting in New Zealand. He began his career as a reporter with the fledgling NZBC News service in the mid 1960s, and later headed the northern newsroom of TV One in the 1970s. Boyd-Bell has also worked as a documentary producer, and was instrumental in setting up educational television services eTV and The Knowledge Breakfast. He is a keen advocate for public service broadcasting.
Shortland Street producer Steven Zanoski’s first job in television was as a writer/reporter on kids programme What Now? He went on to become a storyliner for Shortland Street and eventually the programme’s producer. During his time as a writer on the show, he also penned the screenplay for one-off TV drama House of Sticks. Zanoski has also had a hand in the development of Outrageous Fortune and executive produced Mataku and Mercy Peak.
Actor and writer Tim Balme has played an integral part in the NZ film and television scene for longer than he chooses to remember, having portrayed good guys, bad guys, the guy next door, creepy guys, dopey guys, lovable guys, clever guys and almost every other guy in between. Lately, Balme has diversified his portfolio and worked as a writer and in drama development.
Gordon Dryden has had a long and distinguished career in journalism, public relations and broadcasting. He became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the 1970s, fronting sports and then current affairs programming. Dryden made a name for himself as a tough interviewer on The Friday Conference, and as a talk radio host. In recent years, Dryden has developed education books both in print and online.
Nancy Brunning's television debut was in the first episode of Shortland Street, as Nurse Jaki Manu. Brunning — who passed away in November 2019 — gave a memorable performance as gang girl Tania in What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, and later won attention for her acting in movies The Strength of Water and Mahana. Her work for television included Mataku, Kōrero Mai, and award-winning TV movie Fish Skin Suit. Alongside a busy theatre career, she also directed 2008 short film Journey to Ihipa.