Long-time television and radio host Mark Leishman began his TV career as a continuity announcer, and then moved on to regional news show Today Tonight. Over the years Leishman has appeared on a number of hit shows including Top Town, That’s Fairly Interesting and Tux Wonder Dogs. As well as presenting, he has also directed documentaries such as A Friend For Life and Kohi: A Guide For Life.
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.
Radio and TV host Jim Mora began his career reporting for regional news show The South Tonight. From there, he moved on to One News and then joined Holmes when it debuted in 1989. Over the years Mora became a household name voicing and presenting popular shows including Tux Wonder Dogs, Maggie’s Garden Show and the long-running Mucking In. Mora was also involved with the creation of animated TV shows The Adventures of Massey Ferguson and Staines Down Drains, and is a regular host on RNZ National.
Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts.
Murray Grindlay first rose to prominence as the lead singer in the 60s blues band The Underdogs. Since then he has written the music for a number of feature films, such as Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors and Broken English; as well as countless TV commercials, including the classics Dear John and the Great Crunchie Train Robbery. Currently Grindlay is producing a web-based kids music show The One Winged-Bee Called Emily.
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.
Sam Neill moved from directing at the National Film Unit, to becoming one of New Zealand's most internationally successful actors. His resume of 60+ features includes lead roles in a number of local movies, from a man alone in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to an unusual reverend in Dean Spanley.
Graeme Cowley is a cinematographer with an impressive line-up of features to his credit including Smash Palace, Utu, and Carry Me Back (which he also produced). Cowley also set up pioneering equipment hire company Film Facilities with Nigel Hutchinson, to bolster the range of camera equipment available to independent filmmakers. He was a prime mover behind the restoration of Utu, Utu Redux.
Ian Mune is a Kiwi arts legend.
The globetrotting Sandy Houston began her career in animation and visual effects, after she left New Zealand for London. In the 90s she joined powerhouse American effects company ILM and Walt Disney Pictures, then Weta Digital in 2003. En route, she worked on a number of landmark films in modern visual effects, including Jurassic Park, the Oscar-winning Avatar, and Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong.