“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.
Richard Whiteside began acting in 2004, after time as a businessman. Soon he was appearing in the first of a run of shorts (including starring in 2008's The Rat Trap). In 2014 he played head of a group of anti-media activists in Jonathan King feature REALITi; he also acted in a memorable advert in which he escapes into the air on an ejector seat, after driving lessons with his teenage son. Whiteside passed away on 11 August 2015.
Alison Holst (DNZM, CBE, QSM) has been a household face since the early days of New Zealand television, when her debut show, Here’s How: Alison Holst Cooks, was an instant hit. Her mission was to cook for ordinary people, use uncomplicated ingredients and stick to a budget. Rejecting her unliberated image, she aimed to get women out of the kitchen by making cooking simple.
Russell Campbell has been analysing film and television for more than four decades. A longtime lecturer in film at Victoria University, Campbell’s books include Observations, a volume on New Zealand documentary — a field in which he has extensive first-hand experience.
Bob Stenhouse, the first Kiwi animator to be nominated for an Academy Award, spent 12 years working for state television. After joining the Government’s National Film Unit in 1980, he made Oscar-nominated short The Frog, The Dog and the Devil. Stenhouse’s later films have included several Joy Cowley short stories, plus award-winning short The Orchard, a Japanese fable adapted to a New Zealand setting.
New Plymouth-bred Rodney Charters borrowed a wind up Bolex camera from his dad to make stylish short Film Exercise (1966). It helped win the Elam student a place at London's Royal College of Art. After two decades of filming adverts and documentaries globally, he began amassing more than 50 credits in Hollywood. Charters has framed high profile US TV dramas from Dollhouse and the remake of Dynasty, to 24 (for which he was twice Emmy nominated). He also shot Michael Caine robbery movie Going in Style. In 2013 Charters won a Career Achievement in TV Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.
David Paul's work as a cameraman and director of photography covers the gamut, from documentary and dramas to shorts, commercials and feature films. His CV includes award-winning work on telemovies Tangiwai - A Love Story and Until Proven Innocent, plus Edmund Hillary miniseries Hillary.
Auckland-born Jeanette Thomas has been working in television and radio ever since graduating from AIT with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in 1993. After time as a newsreader on radio station The Breeze she spent two years co-presenting Crime Watch, then returned to hometown Auckland to become longtime co-host of consumer affairs show Target. In 2012 Thomas joined TVNZ’s long-running Good Morning, and the following year began hosting the show solo. After Good Morning finally went off air in 2016, Thomas returned to the breakfast show on The Breeze.
Charlotte Purdy’s CV ranges from reality TV to Antarctic disaster. After a television OE in the United Kingdom, she helmed documentaries and factual TV back home. Under her Rogue Productions banner she created reality format The Big Experiment, and made Reel Late with Kate. After a decade producing current affairs, she co-directed docudrama Erebus: Operation Overdue and rugby doco By the Balls.