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.
After 10 and a half years as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, Ruth Harley stepped down to head across the ditch to helm Screen Australia. Doctor Harley quickly moved into management in the film and television sector, initially at TVNZ in the 1980s, then as the first Executive Director of newly formed funding body NZ On Air. In 1997 she was appointed CEO of the Film Commission.
Roger Horrocks is an academic and writer who has mentored many figures in the New Zealand screen industry. Horrocks began teaching film studies at Auckland University in the 1970s, at a time when film was looked down on by academics. He helped launch the Auckland Film Festival (the precursor to the New Zealand International Film Festival), and was a founding board member of funding body NZ On Air.
Peter Wells was an accomplished writer/director who explored gay and historical themes in his work. Among his screen credits are groundbreaking TV dramas Jewel’s Darl and A Death in the Family. Wells also created stylish feature film Desperate Remedies with co-director Stewart Main. In later years he collaborated with filmmaker Annie Goldson for documentary Georgie Girl.
Robin Scholes is one of our most prolific feature film producers. Her credits include Once Were Warriors, Broken English, Rain, Crooked Earth, The Tattooist, and Mr Pip. She has also produced hundreds of hours of television, including Magic Kiwis, The Big Art Trip, Heroes, Greenstone, The Chosen and Burying Brian.
Lindsay Shelton's career testifies to his love of communicating, and his love of film. After working in newspapers he began a decade programming the Wellington Film Festival, while working in television news. In 1979 he joined the New Zealand Film Commission: over the next 22 years he was an enthusiastic promoter and salesman for New Zealand film around the globe.
Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story author Helene Wong grew up in 1950s Aotearoa, and has worked in the arts as a performer, writer, and film critic. She discusses her varied career in this Funny As interview, including: Growing up with radio comedy, being the class clown at school, and realising that you could make people laugh with voices and accents The university capping review being a revelation and a liberation — presenting an opportunity to deal with issues and being more than just "prancing about on the stage" How the introduction of television meant being able to see politicians — "their physicality, their flaws and their body language" – providing wonderful source material for satirists Working with Roger Hall, John Clarke, Dave Smith and Catherine Downes on university revue One in Five, and mimicking three-screen promotional film This is New Zealand to open the show Working for Prime Minister Robert Muldoon in the 70s as a social policy advisor – despite spending “the previous few years having a lot of fun satirising him”– and feeling that he had a "kind of dark force field around him" Reaching a turning point in comedy about Asians in New Zealand; Asians have started to "take back the power" and "as opposed to encouraging audiences to laugh at us, we’re now getting them to laugh with us"
In his early career, feature film director Roger Donaldson put himself in risky positions while filming adventure documentaries, including The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary. With his friend Ian Mune, he created Winners & Losers, a landmark series of dramas based on stories by New Zealand writers, which in turn inspired the pair to adapt CK Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream into feature film Sleeping Dogs. The major turning point in Donaldson’s career was his feature Smash Palace, which screened at Cannes and earned rave reviews. Since Smash Palace, Donaldson has thrived in Hollywood, working with notable actors including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. He returned to New Zealand to make the Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.
Canadian-born to New Zealand parents, writer and director Alison Maclean helmed one of the most successful NZ Film Commission-funded short films of all time, Kitchen Sink, which debuted at Cannes and won eight international awards. A graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts, she has directed feature films Crush (which she also wrote) and Jesus’ Son. A director of commercials and television series including Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, Maclean divides her time between New York, Canada and New Zealand, and she is developing several feature films.
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.