This Contact documentary explores what it takes to make it as a motor racing driver: from the roar of speed to the ratio of skill, chance, sponsorship and the role of mechanics. Kiwi star Dave McMillan is followed from days of thunder downunder (where a spectacular crash leads to Formula Pacific victory) to leading the Super Vees in US before a near fatal 1980 accident. McMillan bounced back to win the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1981 and in 1982 won the North American Formula Atlantic Championship. He was inducted into the NZ MotorSport Wall of Fame in 2006.
Dunedin-born Alan Dale always had his sights set on brighter lights: first Auckland, then Sydney, then Los Angeles, where he now lives. He started out performing in amateur theatre, but came to professional acting late, taking a DJ slot on Radio Hauraki in his late 20s, followed by a role on the Hauraki-inspired series Radio Waves. Moving to Australia, Dale appeared on The Young Doctors, before playing the fondly remembered solo father, Jim Robinson, for almost a decade on Neighbours. Since moving to Los Angeles, he has often played bad guys, authority figures and moguls on series including ER, Lost, NCIS, 24, The X Files and Entourage, plus high profile roles on The OC and Ugly Betty, and parts in feature films including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Dale has returned to New Zealand for only two series: Plainclothes and Auckland Daze. He also appeared in Flight of the Conchords on HBO, playing the Australian Ambassador.
Though Michael Heath helped create a run of pioneering examples of the Kiwi cinema of unease, his contributions to our culture defy easy categorisation. His scripts include many films which have made a comfortable home between genres: children’s vampire tale Moonrise/Grampire, nostalgic Ronald Hugh Morrieson chiller The Scarecrow, Heath’s work with director Tony Williams, and his acclaimed song-cycle A Small Life.
Illustrious Energy sees Chan and his older mate Kim prospecting for gold in 1890s Otago. Marooned until they can pay off their debts and return to China; they’ve been fruitlessly working their claim for 12 and 27 years respectively. Chan faces racism, isolation, extreme weather, threatening surveyors, opium dens and a circus romance. The renowned feature-directing debut of cinematographer Leon Narbey provides a poetic evocation of the Chinese settler experience; especially vivid are Central’s natural details — desolate schist and tussock lands, rasping crickets.
Grant Bowler cemented his place in Kiwi television history by playing charismatic Outrageous Fortune bad boy Wolf West. Long based out of Australia, the self-described 'Aussiwi' has become increasingly visible on American screens since 2008, backing movie work with roles in shows Ugly Betty, True Blood and Lost.
Clive Cockburn has composed music for a host of Kiwi television shows, and the occasional movie. Since devoting himself to soundtrack work in the early 80s, Cockburn has provided sounds for iconic programmes from Wild South and Country Calendar, to the theme for the TV One news.
New Zealand born and raised, but better known for his work in Australia and the US, Alan Dale began his screen career with Kiwi soap Radio Waves. After eight years as patriarch Jim Robinson on Australia's Neighbours he was later cast in hit US show The OC and he established himself as the man to call for business magnates and authority figures: his CV includes 24, Ugly Betty, Lost, and Once Upon a Time.
Bob Parker did 12 years as guardian of the big red book, presenting and writing This is Your Life. Other presenting roles include Young Farmer of the Year and This is New Zealand (made in NZ for American cable television). He also appeared as a "weird dancing man" in the feature film Snakeskin. After doing time as mayor of Banks Peninsula in 2001, he began a six year stint as mayor of Christchurch in 2007.
Bruno Lawrence was a widely popular and prolific actor, musician and counter-cultural hero. His inimitable and charismatic screen presence was central to Kiwi legends Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Lawrence was also known for his influential and anarchic travelling theatre troupe, Blerta.
From his early days on the stage, Percy Hayes was known for singing and impressions; but it was as actor Rupert Julian that he made his name in Australia, then in the pictures in America. After earning a million dollars as director, producer, writer and star of The Kaiser, his directing career peaked with The Phantom Of The Opera in 1925, starring Lon Chaney. He stayed on in a mansion in LA's Hollywood Hills, until his death in 1943.Image: courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archive