Over a decade ago Robbie Magasiva gave himself two choices - rugby or acting. Since then, Magasiva has made audiences laugh in Skitz, The Semisis and Sione’s Wedding, and has starred in numerous screen dramas including Shortland Street, Cover Story, Jackson’s Wharf, Doves of War and The Tattooist. He made the acting call and hasn’t looked back.
Andrew Clay forged his stand-up comedy career in Australia, before returning battle-hardened to New Zealand. The brutality of that environment is among the things he discusses in this Funny As interview. Clay also talks about: Being the dude at the back of the class, trying to make people laugh The lightbulb moment when Australian comedian George Smilovici told him he should be a stand-up comedian Feeling pride when his conservative dad said “you’d be good at that” The “walking off to the sound of your own footsteps” moments of stand-up comedy, and the immediacy of knowing "straight away whether you're doing well” Writing two stage plays, “to try to be funny in a different way” For more of Andrew Clay, check out this Funny As interview with Clay and fellow comedian Mike King.
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.
Maxine Fleming has been a writer on many of New Zealand’s most-loved TV shows. The beginning of her television career was a baptism of fire as a writer on soap opera Shortland Street. She went on to create or co-create a number of shows including Being Eve, Agent Anna, Burying Brian and 800 Words. Other writing credits include Outrageous Fortune, Mercy Peak and The Chosen. In 2016, Fleming was lured back to Shortland Street as its producer.
Journalist and academic the late Paul Norris had a major role in changing the landscape of television news and current affairs in New Zealand. He cut his teeth with the BBC, but moved back to New Zealand to run TVNZ’s News and Current Affairs division in 1987. In that role, he revamped the evening news on TV One, and launched the Holmes show in 1989. Norris left TVNZ in 1996 to head the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch. Norris died in February 2014.
Jon Bridges was born in America. Since moving to New Zealand at the age of three, he has made hundreds of hours of television for NZers - not only from in front of the camera, but also behind it. Bridges' comic dexterity came to light on our screens in the early 90s with TV shows like A Bit After Ten and Away Laughing, but his first big TV role was as co-presenter of the long-running TV3 series Ice TV, which debuted in 1995. Since Ice TV, Bridges has written, directed, produced and starred in numerous documentaries, dramas, game shows and films. He is currently producing TV3's well-received comedy panel show 7 Days.
Mark McNeill runs production company Razor Films, and has worked often with popular TV psychologist Nigel Latta. McNeill has a background as a freelance documentary maker, with credits including Back from the Dead – The Saga of the Rose Noelle, My Father’s War in Italy, and series Epitaph. He also worked on early reality show Kiwi Flatmates.com. McNeill and Latta's collaborations include the Politically Incorrect series of shows and The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta.
Bryan Shaw is a multi award-winning editor who has worked on a wide range of documentaries and dramas. Among the documentaries are Sense of Place: Robin Morrison, Photographer; Back from the Dead – The Saga of the Rose Noelle; and series An Immigrant Nation. Shaw moved into editing dramas with Street Legal, then went on to edit a number of other drama series including Outrageous Fortune, Westside, The Almighty Johnsons, and Spartacus.
Neill Rea is an actor and casting director who began his screen career with a guest role in the 100th episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He went on to appear in other TV shows including Duggan, Mercy Peak, The Strip and Ivanhoe show Dark Knight. Having created a stir by playing a rapist in nightly soap Shortland Street, he is now back on screens as good guy detective Mike Shepherd in Prime TV series The Brokenwood Mysteries.
Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts.