In 1996 Tony Sutorius got his hands on a new digital video camera, days before the start of an election campaign in Wellington Central. Made on the proverbial shoestring, this feature-length documentary chronicles five of those battling for the crown as a new political age — MMP — dawns. Richard Prebble joins a new party called Act, the National candidate joins United New Zealand… and one of the five will be sacrificed by their own party. Sutorius sat through 55 hours of footage to forge the result, which won enthused, sellout audiences at the 1999 NZ Film Festival.
As longtime presenter of alternative music show Radio With Pictures, Karyn Hay won fame for daring to speak in her own accent. Since leaving the show in the late 80s, Hay has worked on both sides of the microphone, directing music videos, managing radio station Kiwi FM and writing award-winning novel Emerald Budgies.
Launched in 1992, Marae is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. It aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues — political or otherwise — that affect Māori, and explain kauapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll is seen as a respected barometer of matters Māori. Marae was relaunched briefly in October 2010 as Marae Investigates, presented by Scotty Morrison and Jodi Ihaka Marae (and later Miriama Kamo) . Screening on TV One, Marae is presented half in english and half in te reoi. It is now made by company Pango Productions.
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.
Justin Hawkes knew from age 10 that he wanted to work in television. He was an avid collector of international TV guides, and at age 13, sent TV3 a new programming schedule. Hawkes began his career as a tape operator at TVNZ, before honing his directing skills at music channel M2. Hawkes has directed for Netflix travel show Dark Tourist, and edited a run of documentaries (e.g. Stan, Awa: Born This Way).
Mortimer’s Patch was a popular drama series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) at work in the town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots; Don Selwyn is Sergeant Bob Storey. The series was NZ’s first police drama, and a rare local drama to top ratings. Mortimer's Patch was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.
Bailey Mackey's first television job was as a reporter for Māori news programme Te Karere. Later, while Head of Sport for Māori Television, he created long-running sports show Code. Mackey established companies Black Inc Media and Pango Productions, and co-created high profile 2012 reality series The GC. He also sold the format for Pango's hit show Sidewalk Karaoke to global company FremantleMedia.
Producer Lloyd Phillips won an Academy Award in 1981, for short film The Dollar Bottom. South African-born Phillips was raised in New Zealand, where his first feature, Battletruck, was shot. He went on to establish a globetrotting Hollywood career, working on The Legend of Zorro, 12 Monkeys, Inglourious Basterds and Vertical Limit (also shot in New Zealand). Phillips died of a heart attack on 25 January 2013.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Mitchell Hawkes' list of directing credits ranges from The X Factor to The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta. His event directing skills have gained him a go-to reputation for covering high profile concerts, music awards and comedy galas. In 2016 Hawkes formed company Ruckus Media with Nigel Latta and producer Arwen O’Connor. Their shows include live broadcast What Next? and award-winner Born This Way: Awa's Story.