Michael Scott-Smith’s four decade career as a producer/director spanned everything from Compass and Close to Home to Crime Watch. In the 1970s he helped open the doors of television to many of the decade's emerging independent filmmakers. As head of drama for TV1, he oversaw a rush of new production — before stints in information programmes, and back at the production coal face.
Leo Shelton started his television career in 1967 as a trainee cameraman at Wellington station WNTV-1. He worked his way up through the ranks to become a widely respected camera operator and cinematographer, on everything from news and current affairs to award-winning documentaries and drama. Shelton died on 9 May 2017.
Bruce Phillips’ long stage career encompasses six acting awards, directing, and a “brilliantly funny” starring role as Uncle Vanya. On-screen, his CV runs to more than 30 roles, including playing fighter pilot Richard Dalgleish on TV series Country GP, a womanising dentist on Roger Hall comedy Neighbourhood Watch, and Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in 1994 miniseries Fallout.
Lani Tupu, sometimes credited as Larney Tupu or Lani John Tupu, is the first Samoan to have starred in a Kiwi television series; in 1985 he segued from theatre onto the screen, to play doctor David Miller on period TV drama Country GP. The New Zealand-raised Samoan then relocated to Australia, where his many screen roles include Lantana, sci fi success Farscape, and a TV reboot of Mission Impossible.
Ian Watkin's long acting career saw him playing mad doctors, priests, axe-wielding stepfathers, and American presidents. Part of the legendary Blerta troupe which toured Australasia in the 1970s, Watkin went on to appearances in everything from Beyond Reasonable Doubt and an iconic Crunchie bar commercial, to presenting Miss Universe New Zealand. He passed away in May 2016.
Don Selwyn, ONZM, was an actor, casting director and mentor to a host of talented Māori who went on to work in film and television. Selwyn’s long acting resume includes 1970s historical epic The Governor and police show Mortimer’s Patch. He also directed The Māori Merchant of Venice, the first feature film in te reo Māori.
Catherine Downes, MNZM, has won awards both for her stage directing, and her globetrotting one-woman shows about Katherine Mansfield. After launching theatre companies in Holland and the United Kingdom, she spent five years as artistic director of Christchurch's Court Theatre. On screen, she played one of the flatmates in early sitcom Buck House, and starred as a doctor in Epidemic. Time in Australia saw her win a Sammy Award for acclaimed Kings Cross drama Winter of Our Dreams. Later she acted in the original stage version of classic Kiwi play Joyful and Triumphant, and a 1993 television adaptation.
Ken Catran made his name in the 80s as the writer of a raft of kidult TV successes, including Children of the Dog Star and an adaptation of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain. In 1986 he won a GOFTA award for his work on legal drama Hanlon. These days Catran is better known as a prolific and award-winning novelist.
Mark McNeill has been making documentaries for over 20 years. Along the way he has shown a knack for offbeat factual programming, including work with Te Radar and psychologist Nigel Latta. In 1999 McNeill launched company Razor Films. He and Latta went on to reshape The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show for a primetime Australian slot. In 2018 McNeill become the first Kiwi producer to make a series for Netflix.
James Wallace, KNZM, is a patron of cinema, among other types of art. His CV as a producer of short films includes Accidents and Cannes success Planet Man. Wallace produced pioneering AIDS drama A Death in the Family and acclaimed feature Desperate Remedies. He was the Company Secretary and Solicitor for cinema chain Kerridge Odeon, and has spent time on the board of the NZ Film Commission.