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.
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.
Sam Neill moved from directing at the National Film Unit, to becoming one of New Zealand's most internationally successful actors. His resume of 60+ features includes lead roles in a number of local movies, from a man alone in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to an unusual reverend in Dean Spanley.
Murray Grindlay first rose to prominence as the lead singer in the 60s blues band The Underdogs. Since then he has written the music for a number of feature films, such as Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors and Broken English; as well as countless TV commercials, including the classics Dear John and the Great Crunchie Train Robbery. Currently Grindlay is producing a web-based kids music show The One Winged-Bee Called Emily.
Dougal Stevenson started his broadcasting career as a continuity announcer, before moving into newsreading. He quickly became one of our most respected news anchors, initially with DNTV-2 in Dunedin, and then nationally. He left newsreading with the restructure of TVNZ that saw the news moving to Auckland, and has subsequently hosted and narrated a number of TV shows, and dabbled in film and television acting.
Ian Mune is a multi-talented and award-winning veteran of the New Zealand film and TV industry. He has been involved in a huge range of projects as an actor (Pukemanu, Moynihan, Erebus: The Aftermath, Fallout); writer (Sleeping Dogs, Gloss, Goodbye Pork Pie) and director (The End of the Golden Weather, Came a Hot Friday, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted). Three of the five films Mune has directed have won awards for New Zealand film of the year.
Graeme Cowley is a cinematographer with an impressive line-up of features to his credit including Smash Palace, Utu, and Carry Me Back (which he also produced). Cowley also set up pioneering equipment hire company Film Facilities with Nigel Hutchinson, to bolster the range of camera equipment available to independent filmmakers. He was a prime mover behind the restoration of Utu, Utu Redux.
Ian Mune is a Kiwi arts legend.
Producer Larry Parr has had a hand in producing a number of classic New Zealand films, including Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. He has also made forays into directing with Fracture and A Soldier's Tale. After three years as Head of Programming at Māori Television, Parr became Television Manager at Te Māngai Pāho, which funds Māori radio and TV programmes.
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.