Stoney Burke reckons aviation fuel just about runs in his veins; fascinated by aircraft since childhood, joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force felt like a logical choice. Burke's long career as an engineer both on the ground and in the air included helping get supplies to Nepal for Sir Edmund Hillary’s school building projects, plus service in the Vietnam War. Flying into Saigon and some of the forward air bases in Vietnam could prove tricky, with planes taking small arms fire on their approach. Post Air Force, Stoney continued his career at Air New Zealand.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.
Alun Falconer started his film career at the National Film Unit in 1946. Early in 1948 he and cameraman Roger Mirams left the NFU and founded the Pacific Film Unit. A year later he went to China where he worked as a journalist and was an eyewitness to the fall of Shanghai. He left in 1950 for London where he returned to film production and later made his name as a television script writer.
Barrie Everard was a significant Kiwi player in the business of movies over four decades. After distributing films in a highly competitive market, he founded the Berkeley Cinema chain. Everard produced adventure movie The Leading Edge (1987) and executive produced Never Say Die. He was the first exhibitor/ distributor to sit on the board of the NZ Film Commission, and was chair from 2002 to 2006. He died on 14 November 2016.
English cameraman John Earnshaw moved downunder in 1975, just as the local screen industry was hotting up. A director of photography on hundreds of commercials, he shot two feature-length projects: cult movie Angel Mine, one of the earliest entries in the Kiwi movie renaissance, and TV movie A Woman of Good Character. He passed away on 3 March 2014, leaving behind him a passion project involving a mysterious Boeing aircraft.
Bill Sheat has applied his legal and organisational skills across the arts in Aotearoa, to influential effect. He was pivotal in the setting up the NZ Film Commission, and was its inaugural chair from 1978 to 1985. Sheat also spent time as chair of the Queen Elizabeth ll Arts Council, helped fund John O’Shea's 1960s musical Don't Let it Get You, and played a role in ushering Geoff Murphy’s Goodbye Pork Pie to the screen.
The late Margaret Thomson is arguably the first New Zealand woman to have directed films. Thomson spent much of her film career working in England, plus two years back in New Zealand at the National Film Unit. Her NFU short Railway Worker (1948) is regarded as a classic.