In the late 1980s, Kiwi John Britten developed and built a revolutionary racing motorcycle. He pursued his dream all the way to Daytona International Speedway in Florida. In 1991 the underdog inventor came second against the biggest and richest manufacturers in the world. Britten: Backyard Visionary documents the maverick motorcycle designer as he and his crew rush to create an even better bike for the next Daytona. After arriving in Florida, another all-nighter is required to fix an untested vehicle with many major innovations. Costa Botes writes about the documentary here.
Wayne Leonard has directed some of the highest-rated live events on New Zealand television. Since leaving TVNZ in the early 2000s to go freelance, he has continued to be one of the country’s premiere live directors, and helmed TV series ranging from hit panel show Game of Two Halves to My Kitchen Rules. In 2013 his coverage of the America’s Cup in San Francisco was nominated for multiple Sports Emmy awards.
One of NZ’s most experienced and prolific TV producers, Ross Jennings cut his teeth at Avalon in the late 1970s on dramas like Close to Home and Moynihan. After stints as Head of Drama at TVNZ and at Crawfords in Melbourne, he began a long association with Screentime Communicado where he created early reality TV series Middlemore, and Police 10-7. Jennings passed away on 25 March 2016.
John Anderson got busy directing a run of television dramas in the 1980s, including award-winning Polynesian road movie Mark ll, and two of the final works by playwright Bruce Mason. The onetime actor reinvented himself as a documentary filmmaker in the 90s, then relocated to Kiribati, where he worked on more than 400 films covering everything from climate change to dance. Anderson died in Kiribati on 19 August 2016.
Tessa Tylee has over two decades of television credits, including six seasons of community hero garden renovation show Mucking In. She begun on the coffee run on factual series Heroes and worked her way up to helm documenaries on rally driver Possum Bourne and actor Kevin Smith. These days Tylee runs her own production outfit, Alice in Television, from Hawke's Bay.
Neil Stichbury trained as a photographer. After a short stint directing for TV3 and Communicado, he began a busy decade making commercials with Republic Films partner Simon Mark Brown. His partnership with director Luke Nola resulted in a run of kids shows, including Let’s Get Inventin’, whose escapades spawned multiple seasons and overseas sales. Stichbury is now developing further screen projects.
Writer James Griffin has had a hand in an eye-opening proportion of the successful TV comedies and dramas made in New Zealand since 1985. His credits stretch from Gloss and The Almighty Johnsons, to award-winner 800 Words and big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. Working alongside writer Rachel Lang, he also helped create Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune and its prequel series Westside.
Wayne Tourell is a prime contender for having the longest CV of any director in local television. Tourell began as an actor and presenter. The multiple Feltex award-winner has gone on to direct documentaries (Landmarks, Moriori), drink driving campaigns, teen movie Bonjour Timothy — not to mention episodes of Mortimer’s Patch, Shortland Street, Gloss and his beloved legal drama Hanlon.
David McPhail's television resume is that of a genuine stayer. Working with Jon Gadsby, his longtime comic partner in crime, McPhail co-starred — and famously impersonated Sir Rob Muldoon — in landmark sketch shows A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby. Later he helped create the Barry Crump-style yarns of Letter to Blanchy, and played the no-nonsense teacher in Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed pioneering live talk shows (Town Cryer), singing on stage and screen, and extended time in the United States. After a busy decade of television presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows —before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.