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.
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.
Julia Parnell runs Notable Pictures, and is the award-winning producer behind the offbeat Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs; diversity series Both Worlds and Arranged; and music docos The Exponents and The Dragon Story. Parnell is also one of the driving forces behind successful online mini-documentary initiative Loading Docs.
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.
Jessica Hansell (aka Coco Solid) is a creative chameleon — she's an artist, musician, writer, director and actor. The creator of animated series Aroha Bridge talks about a variety of topics in this Funny As interview, including: Realising the power of comedy to tell important stories — and be a "political weapon" How writing and acting in Māori news satire Brown Eye in 2015 "made people realise I wasn't messing around" How her Aroha Bridge characters are a "Frankenstein of Māori and multicultural archetypes I see every day" The "massive effect" Billy T James had on her, and how his Captain Cook sketches "taught you about the truths of colonisation" Rating the acting of childhood friend Madeleine Sami as the "standard that I hold other performers to"
Tom Finlayson is a producer, director and writer who has an impressive track record in New Zealand television. He began his TV career as a reporter on Town and Around, but quickly moved on to news producing, and eventually TV drama production. Finlayson produced the highly acclaimed kidult show Under the Mountain and the successful police drama Mortimer’s Patch, as well as the films Other Halves and The Grasscutter.
Production manager Brian Walden proved a near unstoppable force during the mid 70s dawn of Kiwi TV drama. Known as 'the Sarge' to those who worked with him, Walden was on location to bring in a slew of classic dramas, on time and budget: among them were Hunter’s Gold, The Mackenzie Affair, Gather Your Dreams, Mortimer's Patch and legal classic Hanlon. In the mid 80s he left TVNZ to go freelance, and helped produce everything from vampire movie Moonrise to TV's The New Adventures of Black Beauty.
Bryan Shaw is a multi award-winning editor who has worked on a wide range of documentaries and dramas. Among the documentaries are Sense of Place: Robin Morrison, Photographer; Back from the Dead – The Saga of the Rose Noelle; and series An Immigrant Nation. Shaw moved into editing dramas with Street Legal, then went on to edit a number of other drama series including Outrageous Fortune, Westside, The Almighty Johnsons, and Spartacus.
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.
American producer Rob Tapert first heard that New Zealand was 'an undiscovered production treasure', in a studio carpark. He was later responsible for bringing the internationally popular syndicated TV shows Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules here to realise that vision.