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.
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.
Mike Horton is an award-winning editor who has worked on some of New Zealand’s most beloved films. His CV includes classics Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace, Utu and Once Were Warriors. Horton was nominated for an Oscar for editing Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers, and his one regret is not editing the final film of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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.
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.
Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh is the eye behind some of the most iconic images in New Zealand film. His first job in the industry was as a 'general assistant' on Middle Age Spread. From there he worked as a gaffer on films including Smash Palace, Goodbye Pork Pie and Came A Hot Friday, before becoming a fully-fledged cinematographer, learning much of what he knows from his mentor Alun Bollinger, who operated the camera for him on The Piano. Since shooting The Piano, Dryburgh has been working overseas, returning to film In My Father’s Den in 2004.
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.
From reporting to scriptwriting and acting, Keith Aberdein has been a part of some of New Zealand’s biggest television and film moments. His screen career began as a journalist on Town and Around and Compass. Aberdein has scripted major TV shows such as Pukemanu, Section 7, Moynihan, Close to Home, and the colonial epic The Governor.