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.
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.
Director Gaylene Preston has been stretching New Zealand film in new directions since her early short films and her first feature, the genre and gender-bending Mr Wrong (1985). Long devoted to “communicating local stories to local audiences”, Preston features in Deborah Shepard’s book Her Life’s Work: Conversations with Five New Zealand Women.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of Antony Starr’s first roles in front of the camera were on Shortland Street, where he played three different characters. But in contrast to playing brothers Van and Jethro West in Outrageous Fortune, these first roles were played one at a time not all at once. In the intervening years, Starr has breathed life into scripts from many of NZ’s most popular film and television productions.
Drama producer Chris Hampson has worked in film and television for around 30 years. During that time, he has seen many commissioners, programmers, policies and Governments come and go, while negotiating the sometimes treacherous landscape of TV and film production, along the way delivering films and TV shows such as Illustrious Energy, Marlin Bay, Doves of War and Kaitangata Twitch.
Katie Wolfe made her small screen acting debut in the early 90s. Fresh from drama school she played the daughter of Andy Anderson's character on TV series Marlin Bay. Many acting roles later, Wolfe moved into directing, including well-travelled short film This is Her and TV movie Nights in the Gardens of Spain.