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.
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.
Actor and musician Madeleine Sami was starring in acclaimed stage plays and acting in Shortland Street, while still a teen. Since then she has appeared in TV drama The Insiders Guide to Happiness, and big screen hit Sione’s Wedding and its sequel. Sami also created quirky comedy series Super City, in which she played multiple roles.
John Clarke was one of New Zealand’s best-loved comic performers. His 1970s farming character Fred Dagg became an icon of Kiwi comedy. Clarke worked as a comedian, actor, writer and director. His satirical television series The Games was an Australian Film Institute award-winner. Although based in Australia since 1977, he lent his unmistakeable comic voice to Kiwi TV comedies bro’Town and Radiradirah. In a departure from our usual ScreenTalk format, this extended audio interview was produced and recorded by Andrew Johnstone and Richard Swainson with the assistance of Hamilton Community Radio and The Film School.
Canadian-born documentary filmmaker Leanne Pooley’s award-winning films have examined some of the most potent issues of New Zealand’s recent history - from euthanasia, to sport and politics, to controversial court verdicts. She has also sensitively paid tribute to some of our foremost artists - dancer Douglas Wright, and beloved comedians and singers The Topp Twins.
Costume designer Barbara Darragh is the creator of Xena’s iconic outfit, Billy T James’ look as the Tainuia Kid in Came a Hot Friday, and has won awards for her work on the feature films The End of the Golden Weather and River Queen. Darragh’s television credits include Under the Mountain, Greenstone, Hercules and Xena, and, most recently, Spartacus.