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.
The Almighty Johnsons is a fantasy/comedy series that screened on New Zealand television over three series from 2011 to 2013. The show is about a family of brothers who are descended from Norse gods, desperately trying to restore their powers. While not a huge ratings success in New Zealand, the series has won a cult following in a number of countries.
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.
Despite starring in Kiwi classic Goodbye Pork Pie, playing 'a good true blue basic Kiwi joker' in Home by Christmas, and scoring for the All Blacks, Tony Barry marks a rare Australian entry in our ScreenTalks. The veteran actor cemented his relationship with the Kiwi screen as early as 1971, when he appeared in landmark TV series Pukemanu. Barry went on to tour New Zealand (and his homeland) in Bruno Lawrence’s genre-bending musical group Blerta, then drove a yellow mini to Invercargill in the iconic Goodbye Pork Pie.
Playwright and screenwriter Roger Hall has made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s television landscape. Two of his highly successful stage comedies became TV hits - Gliding On and Neighbourhood Watch. Hall wrote three one-off TV plays for the Spotlight series: The Bach, The Reward, and Some People Get All the Luck. As well as his own creations, Hall has also written for Pukemanu and Spin Doctors.
Dougal Stevenson began on television as a continuity announcer, then became one of New Zealand's most respected news anchors.
Actor Joel Tobeck has played a range of ‘off-centre’ roles from a drug addict to a "bastard in a wheelchair". He has appeared in TV shows Shortland Street, Lawless, Hercules, This is Not My Life and (after this interview) Sons of Anarchy, as well as movies Topless Women Talk About Their Lives and Little Fish.
Gaylene Preston has called Robin Laing 'an oasis of reason and practicality' in the chaos that is filmmaking. Laing began making feature films at a time when women producers were rare in New Zealand. Since then she has produced an eclectic mix of features, short films and arts documentaries, and often lent a hand to emerging filmmakers.
Kelly Johnson is best remembered for his lead role in the iconic Kiwi film Goodbye Pork Pie. He followed that success with roles in the films Carry Me Back, Bad Blood, Battletruck and Utu. In more recent times, Johnson has worked as a lawyer, but he still does occasional guest acting roles, including in Shortland Street and Maddigan’s Quest.
Kiwi production designer Grant Major has worked on many of New Zealand’s biggest films such as An Angel At My Table, Heavenly Creatures, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Whale Rider, and King Kong. In 2004, Major won an Academy Award for his design work on The Return of the King.