Rob Sarkies' first three movies have all begun in southern climes, then headed in unexpected directions. Scarfies celebrates Dunedin student life, before morphing into a twisted examination of morality under fire. Out of the Blue celebrates community and the ordinary person, while recreating the 1990 killings at Aramoana. Two Little Boys is a black comedy featuring Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie and Australian comedian Hamish Blake.
Producer/director Lisa Taouma cut her teeth on long-running Pacific magazine show Tagata Pasifika. She is the driving force behind popular PI youth show Fresh, and has made a number of documentaries on Samoan culture. More recently Taouma has been involved in online venture The Coconet.
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.
Director Tony Hiles began making commercials and documentaries in the mid 1960s; from helming staples like Country Calendar, to independent docos and art films. In 1996 he won an NZ Film Best Director award for his debut feature film Jack Brown Genius.
Tom Hern is a film producer who began his screen career as a junior reporter on children’s television show What Now?. He went on to star in The Tribe, where he met his future business partner James Napier Robertson. Hern acted in a number of other TV shows such as Shortland Street and Power Rangers, before producing his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson. Since then Hern has produced features Everything We Loved and The Dark Horse.
Nick Ward is a prolific and award-winning screenwriter. He attracted notice with the hit feature film Stickmen, a Wellington lads-on-the-make tale that potted him the best script gong in the 2001 New Zealand Film and TV Awards. He originated, and then co-wrote, popular recycling relationship comedy Second-Hand Wedding (2008); and wrote the original script for Love Birds (2011). His TV screenwriting credits include Outrageous Fortune, Burying Brian, Nothing Trivial and The Cult. Ward has also worked in front of the camera, co-presenting The Big Art Trip with Douglas Lloyd Jenkins.
Grip Annie Frear trained in television production at the ABC in Australia, and then returned to New Zealand and forged a distinguished film career working on such titles as E Tipu E Rea, Desperate Remedies, The Piano, Hinekaro Goes on a Picnic and Blows up Another Obelisk, and Peach. Frear was the Grip Co-ordinator for the massive production undertaking that was The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Ainsley Gardiner (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa) fell in love with the magic of the big screen while growing up in Whakatane, where you could find her most Fridays at the local cinema catching the latest release. Her first formal foray into film and television came in 1995 when she joined producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions, eventually producing low budget feature Kombi Nation (2003) and co-producing the 26-part comedy/drama TV series Love Bites (2002). Following the demise of Kahukura, Gardiner teamed up with Taika Waititi to work on Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night. Soon after that she established Whenua Films with actor/producer Cliff Curtis. Together the trio struck creative gold with World War II short Tama Tū, Waititi's debut feature Eagle vs Shark and box office hit Boy.
World-renowned children's author the late Margaret Mahy and television and film producer and director Yvonne Mackay collaborated on a number of screen projects based on Mahy's books and scripts.
Nancy Brunning's television debut was in the first episode of Shortland Street, as Nurse Jaki Manu. Brunning — who passed away in November 2019 — gave a memorable performance as gang girl Tania in What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, and later won attention for her acting in movies The Strength of Water and Mahana. Her work for television included Mataku, Kōrero Mai, and award-winning TV movie Fish Skin Suit. Alongside a busy theatre career, she also directed 2008 short film Journey to Ihipa.