Since the 1970s, producer John Barnett has been instrumental in bringing a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg to Footrot Flats, from Whale Rider to Sione’s Wedding and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?, from iconic soap Shortland Street to the wildly successful Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune.
Film producer Don “Scrubbs” Blakeney came from a background in finance. Returning from working overseas in the 1970s, he met pioneering filmmakers Grahame McLean and John Barnett. Blakeney had become disillusioned with the corporate world, and ended up drifting into the film industry as unit caterer on Sleeping Dogs. In 1979, his background in both finance and film made Blakeney the ideal first Executive Director of the newly-established New Zealand Film Commission. He later produced Geoff Murphy’s classic Māori western Utu. Veteran producer and industry colleague John Barnett is Blakeney's guest interviewer.
James Griffin is the brains behind many successful Kiwi TV dramas and comedies (he co-created Outrageous Fortune and The Almighty Johnsons). He talks in this Funny As interview about failing, succeeding and more, including: Putting together a TV pilot for comedy group Funny Business, while working at TVNZ's drama department Writing comedy scripts for "old school gentleman" Billy T James How he became script editor for 1980s melodrama Gloss in his mid-20s, and drank lots of champagne Being asked to work on a film Pacific Islanders would like, which ultimately became hit movie Sione's Wedding Learning a lot from failing (City Life, Diplomatic Immunity) as "it can teach you a few things if you're smart enough to learn" How infusing comedy into his dramas (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons) "normalised" Kiwis to seeing New Zealand humour on screen
Vanessa Alexander wrote stage plays before turning her hand to writing, directing and producing on screen. She is best known for her feature film Magik and Rose, for producing innovative children's drama series Being Eve, and as a director on popular westie TV show Outrageous Fortune.
Producer Pat Cox instigated Kiwiana classic Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and has produced some of New Zealand’s most iconic commercials, including the long-running Speights 'onya mate', Mainland Cheese 'these things take time', and the 100% Pure NZ tourism campaigns.
A love of English and writing saw the multi-talented Oscar Kightley pursue journalism on his journey to artistic success. He talks about that journey in this extended Funny As interview, including: John Clarke being the first New Zealander that cracked him up The value of touring schools with theatre group Pacific Underground, and the tough audience that is youth The longevity of The Naked Samoans, from their first show in 1998, to a show 20 years later The birth of bro’Town, its success, and plans for a bro'Town movie The "I'd love to see my face up there, like, really big" moment that was movie Sione’s Wedding Making comedy in the new media landscape
Producer Grahame McLean was one of the pioneers of the New Zealand feature film industry. In his long career, he was worked in many roles - props manager, assistant director, production manager, line producer, director, scriptwriter and producer. His first job in the screen industry was on the early 70s independent TV drama The Games Affair, and he went on to produce films including Sons for the Return Home, A Woman of Good Character, and Should I be Good? The special guest interviewer is McLean's industry colleague John Barnett.
Chinese-Kiwi writer/director Roseanne Liang has proven her mettle across many genres.