Fifteen-year-old James is a suburban kid who tries to have it all one night on Courtenay Place. A sensitive lead turn from newcomer Aaron McGregor captures the intensity of being taken by the night, as booze and hormones derail romantic intentions. Choice Night was a second short collaboration between director Christopher Dudman and writer Paul Stanley Ward, loosely based on the latter’s experiences as a teenager in 90s Wellington. It was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand (in competition) and BFI London film festivals, and won Best International Short at Geneva.
Before he was a British MP Austin Mitchell spent time downunder, where he was a well known NZBC broadcaster in the 60s and published bestselling book The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise, a satirical commentary on all things Kiwi. In the first part of this three part series, he returns south to clock the changes. He begins at Otago University, where he lectured in the 60s, and notes a new Pākehā view of their history. Mitchell then talks wine with actor Sam Neill in Central Otago, and en route to Christchurch meets some uniquely 'mainland' entrepreneurs.
Jillian Ewart worked in television as a producer and director from 1976 until 1987. She was the originating producer of Pacific Viewpoint, worked on five seasons of Kaleidoscope, and developed the format for the live Benson and Hedges Awards for Fashion Design. Ewart was also the first producer of travel series Holiday. These days Ewart has returned to journalism.
An iconoclast with a bent for experimentation, director Paul Maunder brought the mixed flavours of social realism and the arthouse to New Zealand screens in the 1960s and 70s, before shifting stages and leaving the government's National Film Unit, to concentrate on theatre. His second feature Sons for the Return Home (1979) as the first film to dramatise the experience of Pacific Islanders living in contemporary New Zealand.
Greg McGee's first play Foreskin's Lament (1980) is seen as a watershed moment in the maturing of a distinctly Kiwi theatre. Since then McGee has demonstrated (with tele-movie Old Scores) that rugby can be the stuff of comedy as well as critique. He has also created or co-created a run of television dramas - including long-running law show Street Legal - many of them awardwinners.
As cantankerous plumber Max Ramsey, Kiwi Francis Bell was the original patriarch in iconic soap Neighbours. A popular and sought after actor in Australia, Bell had roles in numerous TV staples; he played ‘Pompey’ Elliot in the Anzacs mini-series. In the mid-80s Bell returned home, and in TV3 soap Homeward Bound played Dad to a young Karl Urban. In May 1994, aged 50, he fell from an Auckland building to his death.
Mark Albiston has racked up awards at festivals in Cannes, Berlin and Salt Lake City, thanks to short films Run and The Six Dollar Fifty Man (which he co-directed with Louis Sutherland). After a UK OE, Albiston returned home to launch Sticky Pictures, where he began winning gongs for arts shows The Living Room and The Gravy. Alibston and Sutherland's 2013 feature Shopping won further awards and acclaim.
The versatile Peter Young began writing and directing at TVNZ's Natural History Unit in 1989. After moving into camerawork, he launched his own company Fisheye Films in 1997. Since then Young has shot images around the world, directed acclaimed passion projects about post-quake Christchurch and the Ross Sea, and helmed TV series showcasing local landscapes and cuisine (Hunger for the Wild, Get Fresh with Al Brown).
Chris Bailey has made key creative contributions to a host of significant Kiwi television dramas, from sci fi classic Under the Mountain to Nothing Trivial. In 1998, Bailey, along with producer Chris Hampson and writer Greg McGee, founded production company ScreenWorks. These days he is managing director of South Pacific Pictures.
Peter Hudson was the dark-haired half of Hudson and Halls, whose cookery show won high ratings and a 1981 public vote for entertainer of the year. Hudson and partner David Halls' shows were marked by comic banter, and the occasional oven fire. Later they relocated to London, to make programmes for the BBC.