Canadian-born New Zealand director Leanne Pooley has won a raft of awards for her work as a documentary filmmaker. The 2011 Arts Laureate's films include hit Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls, 3D Everest first ascent saga Beyond the Edge, and euthanasia exploration The Promise. In 2015 her film 25 April, an animated feature about Gallipoli, was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.
Christchurch-raised Matt Whelan made his screen debut playing himself — as an acting student on 2005 reality series Tough Act. His big screen break was 2008‘s Show of Hands. But it was three seasons as a lovesick finance man on Go Girls that brought him a wider audience. Three award-nominated roles saw him in starring roles at the movies: cross-cultural romance My Wedding and Other Secrets, travel drama Most Fun You Can Have Dying, and Radio Hauraki tale 3 Mile Limit. In 2017 he was Hugh Hefner in Amazon series American Playboy — before flying to Columbia to chase drug cartels, for Netflix hit Narcos.
New Plymouth-raised Melanie Lynskey made her screen debut as Pauline Parker in the Oscar-nominated Heavenly Creatures (1994). Since then she has starred in Kiwi films Snakeskin and Show of Hands, and cultivated a career in Hollywood. Her long stateside CV now includes Two and a Half Men, The Informant! and starring roles in indie movie Hello I Must Be Going and acclaimed cable TV series Togetherness.
Mark Lapwood began a career of taking pictures at his local newspaper in Palmerston North. At 20 he relocated to Sydney, slowly working his way up the ladder to become a cinematographer. Graduating from the Australian Film TV and Radio School in 2000, he shot his first feature soon after: Indian drama Maya. Three years later he was based in India and filming across the globe. Lapwood returned to NZ in 2011.
Peter Jackson’s fifth feature is a playful blend of comedy, thriller and supernatural horror and was an effective Hollywood calling card for Weta FX. Frank Bannister (Michael J Fox) resides in Fairwater, where he runs a supernatural scam. Aided by some spectral consorts, he engineers hauntings and “exorcises” the ghosts for a fee. When a genuine spook starts knocking off the locals, the FBI suspects Frank is the culprit. To clear his name, Frank must deal to the real perpetrator – none other than the Grim Reaper ...
Raised in Taranaki with seven siblings and roughly as many books, Anthony McCarten went on to co-write global stage hit Ladies Night. In 1998 he made his directorial debut with a movie of his play Via Satellite, followed later by Show of Hands. In 2015 he won two BAFTA awards after writing Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. Winston Churchill drama Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody followed.
Alan Erson captured the everyday lives of New Zealanders in 1990s documentary series First Hand. His directing credits also include Heartland and Nuclear Reaction. Since 2004 Erson has built a successful career in Australia as Head of Documentary and Factual Programmes for the ABC, and General Manager at Essential Media and Entertainment. In 2016 he became Managing Director at WildBear Entertainment.
Should Clive Sowry ever choose to enter Mastermind, his knowledge of the National Film Unit will give his competitors a definite run for their money. Sowry worked at the government filmmaking organisation for 14 years, including nine as the NFU's archivist. He went on to undertake a programme that saved 100s of local films, and has written often about filmmaking in New Zealand — including for NZ On Screen.
Geoff Dixon began making commercials in the 70s — the decade he launched legendary ad company Silverscreen Productions, whose clients included Cadbury, Toyota, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. Ranging across New Zealand and beyond, his work includes iconic images of South Island back roads, Barry Crump crashing utes through the bush, and Michael Hurst singing a war cry for the Kiwi bloke.
Australian-raised Melanie Rodriga (née Read) moved to New Zealand in 1977, and worked as an editor. After adapting Keri Hulme story Hooks and Feelers, she wrote and directed feminist thriller Trial Run in 1983. In 1988 Rodriga was a best director finalist for pioneering TV drama The Marching Girls. Rodriga now lectures in film at Perth’s Murdoch University and continues to make and develop films.