Michael Heath's imagination has spawned movies bursting with murder and mayhem, as well as lyrical tales of childhood and unheralded artists. Heath's work ranges widely – some of his films are lyrical, comical and murderous all at the same time. His scripts include two contenders for New Zealand's first horror film (Death Warmed Up and Next of Kin), plus an affectionate adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson classic The Scarecrow, which was the first Kiwi movie invited to the Cannes Film Festival. In recent years Heath has blossomed from writer into director.
Petra Bagust grew up in Christchurch, studied fine arts at Canterbury University and waited tables before being lured into regional TV station Cry TV. And so began a screen career during which she has hosted many of NZ’s most popular shows, starting out with mad-cap youth series Ice TV in 1996.
Samoan-born, New Zealand-raised director Sima Urale is our first prominent Samoan female director. Urale has brought touching stories of Pacific people to the screen, often from an NZ outsider’s point of view. Urale credits her film success to determination and dealing with social issues close to her heart.
Sean Duffy started his TV career as a news and documentary editor, then later began mixing in acting roles on film and television. His major breakthrough role was in Mortimer’s Patch. Since then he has starred in numerous TV shows including Willy Nilly, Plain Clothes, Tiger Country and The Neighbourhood Network. His film credits include Utu, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. Duffy has also directed a number of TV documentaries.
The globetrotting Sandy Houston began her career in animation and visual effects, after she left New Zealand for London. In the 90s she joined powerhouse American effects company ILM and Walt Disney Pictures, then Weta Digital in 2003. En route, she worked on a number of landmark films in modern visual effects, including Jurassic Park, the Oscar-winning Avatar, and Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong.