Producer Philip Smith comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so it’s always been in his nature to pursue opportunities. Currently working as head of the production company he created, Great Southern Television, Smith also had an eventful career in journalism before moving into producing. He was once expelled out of Tanzania while working as a print journalist, and sold his first production company for several million dollars while still in his early 30s. Great Southern has produced Lion Man, Eating Media Lunch, The Unauthorised History of NZ and The Cult. Smith lives in both Auckland and Queenstown, where he does a lot of brainstorming out in his woolshed.
Journalist turned media trainer Allison Webber began in television at a time when women were more likely to be making the tea than making programmes. After working alongside names like Brian Edwards and Ian Johnstone, she became part of a new generation of women producers and directors who changed the shape of what went on air, especially with her ground-breaking documentary series Expressions of Sexuality.
John Knowles began his broadcasting career as a television reporter in the 1960s. Later he ran TV One operations in Christchurch, and did stints managing TVNZ operations in both Dunedin and Auckland, before becoming the organisation’s Head of Sport. Knowles oversaw coverage of many major live events including the Commonwealth Games and sesquicentennial celebrations. Upon leaving TVNZ, Knowles spent several years managing the J-Sports channel in Japan.
Journalist and academic the late Paul Norris had a major role in changing the landscape of television news and current affairs in New Zealand. He cut his teeth with the BBC, but moved back to New Zealand to run TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division in 1987. In that role, he revamped the evening news on TV One, and launched the Holmes show in 1989. Norris left TVNZ in 1996 to head the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch. Norris died in February 2014.
Veteran broadcaster and journalist Ian Johnstone helped pioneer current affairs programming in New Zealand by hosting and reporting on the shows Compass and Close Up in the 1960s. Johnstone was the first host of the regional programme Town and Around and went on to co-host Tonight at Nine after the debut of South Pacific Television. Since then Johnstone has been involved in a variety of TV series and documentaries, and has even turned his hand to a bit of character acting in television dramas. Johnstone is perhaps best remembered as the long-time host of the Crimewatch series.
Producer Rachel Gardner studied at the London School of Economics, and worked as a journalist at the BBC. After returning downunder in 2002 she moved into producing: her work on hit show The Lion Man resulted in an invitation to spend time as Head of Drama at Great Southern Film and Television. Gardner has also worked with Angela Littlejohn on a run of short films, plus features Apron Strings and Show of Hands.
Oscar Kightley is a celebrated writer, actor, director and television presenter. He is a key part of comedy theatre troupe The Naked Samoans, whose members are behind the hit TV animation series bro’Town and the feature film Sione’s Wedding.
Jodie Rimmer grew up in a sporty family whose dinner time conversations were more likely to be about the latest rugby or netball news than the finer aspects of television performance or character arc. Fast forward a handful of years and it's Rimmer’s stand-out performances as Donna Chisholm in the David Doherty inspired tele-feature Until Proven Innocent, or as Wendy Snowden (Mrs Peter Cook) in international feature Not Only But Always that might now be the topic of some dinner party conversations.
Chas Toogood is an award-winning documentary producer and director whose work has showcased the strength and determination of the human spirit. He began his career as a news journalist and then moved on to a series of high profile documentaries including the Legends of the All Blacks series, Mark Inglis documentary No Mean Feat, and Sir Peter Blake – The Boy From Bayswater. Toogood has gone on to direct episodes of Wild Coasts with Craig Potton and Coast New Zealand.
Producer/director Gary Scott has spent time in the newsroom, the museum, and on location. Trained as an historian and journalist, Scott has been producing with Wellington company Gibson Group for more than a decade - though he began his screen career as an assignment editor, in the stressful world of primetime TV news. Alongside his TV work at Gibson Group, Scott also helps the company develop multi-media experiences for museums.