Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing ski movie Off the Edge. A key early film in the NZ 'new wave', the documentary earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Firth went on to direct dramatic features Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But he loved the outdoors best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with zany adventure movie The Leading Edge, and was behind internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.
Peter Meteherangi Tikao Burger (Ngāi Tahu, Rangitane) can thank a childhood lisp for his busy career as a screen director today. Having been sent to speech lessons, he found himself in the wrong class, and discovered the joys of performance in a drama class at a young and impressionable age. Since then, Burger has directed numerous film and television productions, including Until Proven Innocent, which won five Qantas awards in 2009, The Tattooist, Fish Skin Suit, short film Turangawaewae, staring the late Wi Kuki Kaa, as well as the TV series Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls and The Cult.
Former Commonwealth Games athlete Kirk Torrance (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa) struggled with asthma and school as a child, before realising his potential as an internationally competitive swimmer. Following his exploits at home and abroad in the pool, Torrance graduated from Toi Whakaari and embarked on a successful career in film and television. His most memorable performances to date include Toa in Fish Skin Suit, Lee Kapene in Shortland Street, Holden in award-winning feature film Stickmen, and detective Wayne Judd in the hit TV series Outrageous Fortune.
After making his screen debut in 1988 on Margaret Mahy TV series Strangers, actor Martin Henderson spent three years on Shortland Street playing Stuart Nielsen, then moved on to Australia and later the United States. Since then he has acted everywhere from India to Sweden, and in everything from horror (The Ring) to musicals (Bride and Prejudice) to TV’s House MD. His work as Cate Blanchett’s disabled brother in drama Little Fish saw him nominated for an Australian Film Institute supporting actor award. Variety magazine called his performance 'a revelation'.
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.
Actor turned producer/director Julian Arahanga made his screen debut at age 11, starring alongside Annie Whittle in short film The Makutu on Mrs Jones. He shot to fame playing novice gang member Nig Heke in landmark movie Once Were Warriors, then went on to act in a number of films including Broken English. Since setting up his own production company Awa Films, Arahanga has directed and produced TV series Songs from the Inside and acclaimed documentary Turangaarere: The John Pohe Story.
Jason Stutter has a talent for going for the jugular, yet doing it in style. In Stutter’s movies, the camera plunges headfirst into haunted hospitals, dodgy smalltown dealings, and fight scenes with Pacific Island Ninjas whose parents were unexpectedly half-gobbled by fish.
Actor Joel Tobeck has played a range of ‘off-centre’ roles from a drug addict to a "bastard in a wheelchair". He has appeared in TV shows Shortland Street, Lawless, Hercules, This is Not My Life and (after this interview) Sons of Anarchy, as well as movies Topless Women Talk About Their Lives and Little Fish.