This feature tells the true story of the notorious 1941 manhunt for Stanley Graham. The West Coast farmer went bush after a shooting spree that followed police pressure to have him hand over his firearms. Seven men were ultimately killed. Written by Kiwi-born Andrew Brown (from Harold Willis’ book), Bad Blood was made during the tax break era for UK TV, but was released in NZ cinemas. Directed by Brit Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), it won strong reviews. Aussie legend Jack Thompson and compatriot Carol Burns star as the isolated Bonnie and Clyde coasters.
Veteran producer, director, writer and presenter Bryan Bruce has made programmes on everything from Kiwi humour to mass murderers. Bruce specialises in campaigning documentaries with a social justice angle, as well as crime shows.
A Friendly Career (or The Story of the Training and Life of the New Zealand School Dental Nurse) was a promotional film made by the National Film Unit for the Department of Health. The plot waltzes through the idyll of one doe-eyed careerist's sugar-coated journey to a respectable job in the 'murder house', caring for the teeth of the Dominion's children. Focusing on the hard work and 50s fun times of hostel life, with its friendships, matrons, tooth-pulling and en masse doing-of-the-hokey pokey, the end of this careerist road is pitched as one of great satisfaction.
Rob Sarkies made his first film at age 10. His feature debut was 1999 hit Scarfies, followed by Out of the Blue, an acclaimed dramatisation of the Aramoana murders. Sarkies followed it with TV's This is Not My Life and black comedy Two Little Boys, based on a novel by his brother Duncan. Since then he has directed Moa-nominated TV movie Consent, and multi award-winning Jean Batten biopic Jean.
Kiwi hair and makeup artist Lesley Vanderwalt won an Oscar and a Bafta for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road. She also collaborated with director George Miller on Babe 2, Nicole Kidman mini-series Bangkok Hilton and the second Mad Max movie. The onetime Wellington hairdresser had makeup duties on early Kiwi classics The Governor, Skin Deep and Bad Blood, before a slew of Australian credits (Shine, Moulin Rouge!).
Since the late 1980s Bryan Bruce has been a prolific documentary maker and presenter. Over more than 30 documentaries, plus three seasons of The Investigator, he has cast fresh eyes on some of the most famous crimes in New Zealand’s history, and asked tough questions about the country’s economic and social trajectory.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt reconstructs the events surrounding a notorious New Zealand miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe. Directed by John Laing, and starring Australian John Hargreaves (as Thomas) and Englishman David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the drama benefitted from immense public interest in the case. Thomas was pardoned while the film was in pre-production, and he saw some scenes being made. It became New Zealand's most successful film until Goodbye Pork Pie in 1981.
Writer Rachel Lang, MNZM, has played a major hand in a host of New Zealand television dramas, including Outrageous Fortune, the iconic saga of a West Auckland family trying to go straight. Her CV also includes the long-running Go Girls, small town dramas Jackson's Wharf and Mercy Peak, plus Westside, The Almighty Johnsons, This is Not My Life, Filthy Rich and The Blue Rose.
Ric Pellizzeri is an award-winning TV director and producer. He has worked extensively both in his native Australia and New Zealand, having partnered with company Screentime on Underbelly NZ and telefilms Siege, How to Murder Your Wife, The Monster of Mangatiti and Rainbow Warrior drama Bombshell. His Aussie credits include hit police drama Blue Heelers and directing the pilot episode of Home and Away.
Although he may not be keen to do so, Bill Toepfer can claim a place in global television history as the man behind the Popstars reality TV juggernaut. Toepfer has enjoyed a long and accomplished career in New Zealand television, editing and producing hundreds of hours of documentaries and TV specials.