Auckland-born Jay Laga’aia is the proverbial man of many talents. A busy trans-Tasman career as actor/performer has seen him performing on stage (The Lion King) and screen (Street Legal, Water Rats, Star Wars).
If the measure of success for a casting director is the subsequent success of the actors they pluck from the crowd, then Diana Rowan has certainly done time at the top of her field. She is the casting director who helped Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Kerry Fox and Lucy Lawless on their way to international careers, while developing her own talents as a writer and director of short films.
Council drainlayer Noel Appleby first won fame after starring in an 80s Winstone commercial, pushing a wheelbarrow. After a bit part in Beyond Reasonable Doubt, he was picked to play one of the time-travellers in acclaimed Vincent Ward fantasy The Navigator, adding to the film’s impressive awards tally in the process. Later he hunted vampires in Moonrise, and was a taxi-driver in Old Bastards. Appleby died in May 2007.
Jay Saussey, the daughter of a drama teacher, started her career as one of the young stars of Deepwater Haven in 1993, after previously playing a small role in Vincent Ward film The Navigator. Deepwater Haven saw Saussey play one of the two children of tugboat skipper Jack Wilson, played by Australian actor Vince Martin. The role earned her Best Juvenile Performer at the NZ Film and TV Awards. Since then, Saussey's had an active film and television career, appearing in everything from Hercules and Shortland Street (she played nurse Tamsin Yates for two years), to Outrageous Fortune and Fracture.
A key player behind the scenes, Gary Hannam’s ability to find and exploit mechanisms for financing movies was a key driver in the rapid growth of the NZ film industry during the 1980s.
Since scrapping a career as a teacher in 1978, actor Desmond Kelly has appeared on screen in more than 40 roles. Often playing the straight-talking working class Kiwi bloke, Kelly has contributed memorable performances to Smash Palace (as Bruno's co-mechanic), The Scarecrow (as the hero's Dad), Springbok Tour telefeature Rage (as rugby union boss Ces Blazey) and as the swagman co-star in TV series Jocko.
John Maynard is a highly successful producer of more than 30 years experience, both here and across the Tasman. He is recognised for his support and encouragement of emerging talent, often with risky and original films. Notably, he helped launch the feature filmmaking careers of directors Vincent Ward and Jane Campion.
Marshall Napier’s run of memorable supporting film roles includes Came a Hot Friday, The Navigator, and Footrot Flats. He starred in The Lie of the Land and TV drama Swimming Lessons. A 1988 move to Australia saw turns in hit movie Babe and TV series Police Rescue (AFI-nominated), Water Rats and McLeod’s Daughters. Napier took his own play, Freak Winds, to off-Broadway New York in 2006 after a sell-out run in Australia.
Journalist/writer Geoff Chapple won an NZ Film Award for Vincent Ward's acclaimed fantasy The Navigator. Chapple co-wrote the script, and also co-authored Ward's book Edge of the Earth. Chapple's other books include Rewi Alley of China, written after working with Alley on docos Gung Ho and The Humble Force. Chapple is an ex member of percussion ensemble From Scratch, and creator of national walking trail Te Araroa.
Greg Stitt has worked extensively as a filmmaker on both sides of the Tasman. Aside from many documentaries, he also directed the shorts Fastest Gun Down-Under and Just Me & Mario, the tale of a young man obsessed with singer Mario Lanza.