Paul Casserly won a Qantas TV Award in 2009 for directing upstart satirical show Eating Media Lunch. The show ran for six years on TVNZ. Casserly continued his creative partnership with presenter Jeremy Wells on The Unauthorised History of New Zealand and Birdland. Casserly has also directed music programmes for Neil Finn and Bic Runga, and videos for Greg Johnson, Tim Finn, and his own group Strawpeople.
A newspaper journalist by training, Karen Sims began her TV career on South Pacific Television’s News at Ten. In the early 80s she moved into presenting, with current affairs shows Eyewitness and Foreign Correspondent. She co-presented the nightly Eyewitness News alongside David Beatson, but continued to work as a journalist — and expected to be judged on her field stories and studio interviews, rather than as a celebrity.
Ian Fraser made his name in the late 70s as one of New Zealand’s most respected interviewers, facing off against everyone from Robert Muldoon to the Shah of Iran. In 2002, after time spent in public relations and as head of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Television New Zealand — this time as its chief executive.
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.
By 2001 Russell Crowe was an international star, thanks to award-winning performances in The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Born in New Zealand and raised on both sides of the Tasman, the Oscar winner continues to act in feature films, and in 2014 made his movie directing debut with Aussie hit The Water Diviner. Once known as Auckland singer Russ le Roq, Crowe also sings in band The Ordinary Fear of God.
Producer Steven O'Meagher is the founder of Auckland production company Desert Road, whose work includes acclaimed TV police drama Harry and Emmy-nominated docudrama The Golden Hour. O'Meagher developed Bill O'Brien's Aramoana massacre account 22 Hours of Terror into acclaimed feature Out of the Blue. The film went on to box office success and multiple Qantas awards.
The CV of editor Jeff Hurrell splices TV documentaries — often alongside director Bryan Bruce — with a run of short films, including 2011 award-winner Lambs. The short film work lead to him editing debut features for directors Jason Lei Howden and Paul Campion, Deathgasm and The Devil’s Rock. Hurrell also cut the high profile Born to Dance, and runs Wellington production house Martin Square.
Welsh-born James Harris played an important role in the founding of the National Film Unit in 1941. A well-educated, versatile filmmaker equally at home behind the camera, operating a splicer or wielding a pen, he spent 26 years with the NFU, mostly as a senior director. Photo credit: Archives New Zealand, reference AAQT 6401 A23,729
Whether on air or behind the scenes, award-winning investigative journalist Melanie Reid was a fixture of TV3 current affairs shows for over 25 years. As a reporter on 60 Minutes and 20/20, she went undercover to expose Neville Cooper's community at Gloriavale, and profiled Peter Ellis and David Bain. Reid also fronted 2006 documentary Let Us Spray, on chemical 245T. She now works for website Newsroom.
After 19 years working in news and current affairs at the BBC, Paul Norris returned to New Zealand in 1987 to lead TVNZ’s news and current affairs team during a period of major change (including the launch of hit show Holmes). Nine years later he left to head the NZ Broadcasting School in Christchurch. A widely respected and passionate advocate for public broadcasting, Norris died in February 2014.