Award-winning director Brendan Donovan cast Lee Majors in his debut short film. It was a success. Then after eight years working in New York, the Howick native returned to New Zealand, where he has directed and written for television and cinema both here and in Australia, including making feature film The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell.
As the founder of production company Desert Road, Steven O'Meagher has produced a long list of documentaries, films and television shows. His documentaries include The Understudy, Million Dollar Tumour, and Reluctant Hero. O'Meagher executive produced TV drama This is Not My Life, and made the police series Harry, featuring Oscar Kightley in the lead role.
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.
Ray Waru has had a long and distinguished career as a producer and director in both television and radio. He began his TV career working on factual series such as Country Calendar, Fair Go, People Like Us and Tomorrow’s World. In 1980 he established the Māori television production unit at TVNZ, and launched the first regular Māori primetime show Koha. Waru went on to work on major documentary series Our People Our Century and Frontier of Dreams.
Samoan-born, New Zealand-raised director Sima Urale is our first prominent Samoan female director. Urale has brought touching stories of Pacific people to the screen, often from an NZ outsider’s point of view. Urale credits her film success to determination and dealing with social issues close to her heart.
Actor Paul Ellis is best known for playing bad boy Fergus Kearney on Shortland Street. Since leaving the show, he has appeared in a number of New Zealand, US and UK television productions including The Chosen, Celebrity Treasure Island, Legend of the Seeker, Dream Team and Ice. He has also appeared in 2008 movie The Delphi Effect and online soap Auckland Daze.
Veteran broadcaster Bill McCarthy was the popular face of TV news and sport in the 1970s. Starting as a sports anchor, he later moved to primetime news-reading, and then became a producer on the classical music series Opus, as well as one-off big event television such as the 1987 Rugby World Cup and Telethon. In later years, McCarthy has produced host broadcasts for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and become involved with Christian broadcaster Shine TV.
Tom Parkinson is a veteran television producer and director who has worked on iconic Kiwi TV shows such as Hunter’s Gold, Hudson and Halls and Telethon. Parkinson was a key force behind many of our hit comedies in the 70s and 80s, including Billy T James’ shows, A Week of It, Issues, and Letter to Blanchy. Parkinson is also a former Head of Entertainment Programmes at TVNZ, and helped launch TV3.
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.
Veteran actress Kate Harcourt has had a long and distinguished career in theatre, television and film. Her first television role was as a presenter on the Wellington version of children’s show Junior Magazine. She would later appear in TV dramas such as Country GP, Plain Tastes, and the TV play Loose Enz - Free Enterprise. Harcourt has also acted in a number of feature films including Mr Wrong, Apron Strings and Savage Islands.