Jono Smith was 14 when he won the starring role as teenager Ned Poindexter in 50s-era coming of age classic The Scarecrow. After leaving school, Smith joined TVNZ and became a camera assistant. Since relocating to England in 1993 he has shot a raft of television projects, short films, and four features. In 2010 he co-produced acclaimed movie Sus.
The films of Gregor Nicholas have won international attention and a host of awards. His work as a director crosses the gamut in style and subject: from acclaimed short film Avondale Dogs to All Black commercials for Adidas, from interracial love story feature Broken English, to experimental music-based short films for From Scratch.
Sophia Hawthorne, who died in February 2016, starred on stage in Cabaret, Closer and Romeo and Juliet. After a number of short films — including the moody She’s Racing — she got breakthrough screen roles in movies When Love Comes and Savage Honeymoon (playing wild child Leesa Savage). Further nominations followed for TV’s Insiders Guide to Happiness. She was daughter of actor Elizabeth and director Raymond Hawthorne.
Veteran producer Michael Stedman, ONZM, was commander of Dunedin's Natural History Unit and head of programme production for TVNZ — at the same time. In 1997 he helped arrange the deal that saw the unit sold to Fox Television and renamed NHNZ, while still keeping its main base in New Zealand. Stedman became managing director of one of the world's largest producers of wildlife and factual programming.
John McKay is a veteran sound editor, sound designer, and mixer. He abandoned an early focus on directing to build a diverse, respected career in post-production. His credits include significant contributions to iconic films The Quiet Earth, Footrot Flats, Kitchen Sink, and Lord of the Rings. McKay is notable for an approach which combines creativity with a high level of technical craft and organisational rigour.
Actor, writer and director Rawiri Paratene, ONZM, first sprang into the public eye on the iconic Play School and comedy shows like Joe and Koro. In 1999 he played gangmember Mulla Rota in the sequel to Once Were Warriors, and four years later was seen around the globe as the stubborn grandfather in Whale Rider. In 2010 he won further acclaim after starring in movie The Insatiable Moon.
Jamie Selkirk is the Academy Award-winning editor of Return of the King, the final episode of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His working relationship with director Peter Jackson stretches from Jackson's first feature Bad Taste through to the present day. Selkirk helped found special effects company Weta Workshop, and Wellington's Camperdown Studios.
Joe Hitchcock began in film after his stop motion short Kismet played at the 2005 Screamfest in Los Angeles. He has since found a niche as a cinematographer and director, working on shorts, adverts and music videos. In 2010 Hitchcock was nominated as Best Director at New Zealand's Show Me Shorts film festival, for The North Pole Deception. He made his feature directing debut with Penny Black (2015), a road movie pairing a supermodel and an anarchist. Since then he has directed much travelled short Stick To Your Gun and several short documentaries, and shot campaign footage for future PM Jacinda Ardern.
Since winning his first lead role on stage at age 11, Todd Emerson has built a lengthy CV on stage and screen. In 2015 he joined the main cast on Westside, playing career criminal Bilkey Van Heeder, and starred as a man who enters a parallel world in Sally Tran’s feature film Timeslow. Emerson also played Peter Hudson in stage play Hudson & Halls Live, which recreates a TV show by the beloved chefs.
Masters graduate Morgan Leigh Stewart has done time on film sets, in film festival offices, and behind the scenes of the 48 Hour Film contest. After learning the producing ropes across dozens of music videos and short films, Stewart was one of the producers of hit horror movie Deathgasm (2015). She was also a key player behind Auckland film collective The Hot House and K'Rd Stories, a series of shorts based on the iconic Auckland street. She made her directorial debut in 2018 with She Speeds; the documentary short about a female stock car driver was made for online series Loading Docs.