Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts.
In this ScreenTalk interview, Macdonald talks about:
- Early career advice to try advertising, before he joined Government filmmakers the National Film Unit at age 18
- Noticing some tears from the audience when short film This is New Zealand got its first screenings at the NFU
- The film's enormous success in Japan, and back in New Zealand
- The joys of getting out on the road to make travel films
- The “unique experience” of directing historical TV epic The Governor
- Memorable all nighters planning the series, alongside workaholic producer/director Tony Isaac
- Late night script contributions from an Avalon floor, by Keith Aberdein
- How the spirit of the NFU changed after the departure of longtime manager Geoffrey Scott
- Producing animated films for Bob Stenhouse
- Oscar nominations for Stenhouse's The Frog, the Dog and the Devil, alongside Pixar's John Lasseter
- Witnessing the last days of the Denniston railway incline, while making films After Ninety Years and On Denniston
- His new film about writer and naturalist Sheila Natusch
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via this Creative Commons licence.
Chris Dudman is an award-winning filmmaker with credits in New Zealand and the UK. His short film Blackwater Summer was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Dudman has gone on to direct both documentary (New Zealand at War, The Day that Changed My Life, Zoo) and drama (Oscar Kightley police show Harry, short film Choice Night). Dudman also directs TV commercials, including the popular Pukeko ads for Genesis Energy.
In this ScreenTalk, Dudman talks about:
- How a child's grief is the topic of his short film Blackwater Summer
- Feeling surprise and pressure after the film won awards
- Creating early reality documentary Zoo
- The challenges of filming in restricted areas for Protecting the Border
- Directing almost ‘silent’ film The Graffiti of Mr Tupaia
- Working with the film's talented lead actor Rawiri Paratene
- The challenges of filming intimate scenes for short film Choice Night
- Directing Oscar Kightley police drama Harry
- The compelling interviews that lead to quake documentary The Day that Changed My Life
- Working with real birds while making the Pukeko ads for Genesis Energy
This video was first uploaded on 22 June 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute as part of this Creative Commons licence.
Mark McNeill runs production company Razor Films, and has worked often with popular TV psychologist Nigel Latta. McNeill has a background as a freelance documentary maker, with credits including Back from the Dead – The Saga of the Rose Noelle, My Father’s War in Italy, and series Epitaph. He also worked on early reality show Kiwi Flatmates.com. McNeill and Latta's collaborations include the Politically Incorrect series of shows and The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta.
In this ScreenTalk, McNeill talks about:
- Having complete control on his episode of ground-breaking series First Hand
- Regular interruptions by gunfire while filming Mogadishu Madness
- Interviewing survivor John Glennie for documentary Back from the Dead - The Saga of the Rose Noelle
- Finding great stories for TV series Epitaph
- Mad times making "insanely successful" early reality show Kiwi Flatmates.com
- Working with the "fantastic" Nigel Latta on the hit Politically Incorrect shows
- His new project following 1037 people’s lives in The Science of Us
- Basing his career on making shows he really wants to make
This video was first uploaded on 15 June 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute as part of this Creative Commons licence.
Sky TV CEO John Fellet is a veteran of pay TV, having started his career in his native Arizona, and been with Sky TV in New Zealand since 1991. He became the company’s CEO in 2001, and helped build it into one of the dominant media companies in the country. In this interview to mark Sky’s 25th anniversary in NZ, Fellet outlines the changes he’s seen in his time with the company.
In this ScreenTalk, Fellet talks about:
- Spending most of his working life in pay TV
- The challenge of making Sky TV profitable as CEO of the business
- How adding a satellite enabled them to add to their original three channels
- Developing a strong focus on sports and sporting events
- How the growth of pay TV in the Pacific enabled Sky to add more channels
- Why content buying rules helped lead to the purchase of free-to-air channel Prime TV
- The rationale behind changes to who provides Prime News
- The current state of the TV industry, including sky-high content prices
- How after 25 years, Sky TV feels like one big family
This video was first uploaded on 26 May 2015, and is available on YouTube to embed and via this Creative Commons licence
David de Lautour has had acting success in both NZ and the United States. He debuted with small roles in Xena: Warrior Princess before moving on to kidult shows Being Eve and The Amazing Extraordinary Friends. Now based in LA, de Lautour has been seen in a number of big US dramas such as NCIS and Once Upon a Time, plus sitcom What I Like about You. He has gone on to star in Outrageous Fortune prequel Westside, as family patriarch Ted West.
In this ScreenTalk, de Lautour talks about:
- Being sacrificed on an altar for Xena: Warrior Princess
- Feeling excited about getting a role on the kidult sitcom Being Eve
- Initially feeling unsure if Power Rangers was right for him
- Getting comfortable making mistakes on the set of Legend of the Seeker
- Being a cog in the well-oiled machine that is US drama series NCIS
- The thrill of wearing an All Black jersey playing Stephen Donald in The Kick
- Embracing nerves on set and how they help with performance
- Loving the incredible vibe on the set of Westside
- Initially auditioning for another role, but getting the job of playing Ted West
- The challenge of making the role his own when it is so identified with Frank Whitten
- The reason he loves playing the character
- Acting alongside Outrageous Fortune veteran Antonia Prebble
- Living and working in Los Angeles
This video was first uploaded on 26 May 2015, and is available on YouTube to embed and via this Creative Commons licence.
Producer and director Colin McRae has a television career spanning 40 years. In that time he has worked in news and current affairs for both TVNZ and TV3, and was the private channel’s Head of Sport to boot. His ground-breaking historical series The New Zealand Wars won Best Documentary Series at the 2006 Qantas Media Awards. In recent years, McRae has produced Native Affairs and Anzac Day coverage for Māori Television.
In this ScreenTalk, McRae talks about:
- The challenges of producing regional news show Top Half
- Trying to get legendary music reporter Dylan Taite to focus on Hamilton stories for the show
- How field directing on magazine show That’s Fairly Interesting was a breath of fresh air
- Producing Sunday night current affairs show Frontline
- Feeling sadness when researching a documentary on Cave Creek
- The long and complex process of making acclaimed historical series The New Zealand Wars
- Bringing pathos and drama to documentary series Legends of the All Blacks
- Feeding his documentary experience into Māori Television’s Anzac Day coverage
- How his career has evolved over the years
This video was first uploaded on 18 May 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via this Creative Commons licence.
Des Monaghan has made an enormous contribution to the television industry as a TV producer and network executive in both New Zealand and Australia. Starting as a trainee producer with the NZBC, Monaghan produced a range of pioneering current affairs shows such as Town and Around, Gallery and Compass. In more recent years, Monaghan set up Australasian production company Screentime, whose slate includes popular shows Popstars, Underbelly, Police Ten 7 and Beyond the Darklands.
In this ScreenTalk interview, Monaghan talks about:
- Working with a blind cameraman and deaf sound recordist in his early TV days
- Having almost no content to broadcast when he began producing Town and Around
- Playing an awful lot of pool with Brian Edwards, while producing Compass
- Failing to realise the power he had on current affairs show Gallery
- How the show famously helped to settle the Post Office strike
- The laziness of the print media in New Zealand in the 1970s
- Being kept waiting by David Frost while making Frost Over New Zealand
- How legendary fighter pilot Sir Keith Park created a poignant moment on the show
- Raising the ire of rugby league fans after taking over sports coverage on TV
- New Zealand needing true public service television
- Being grateful for the varied opportunities his career has offered
This video was first uploaded on the 4th of May 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Programmer John McCready has had a significant impact on the television industry in New Zealand. After extended time in music and radio he joined TVNZ in 1989 as Manager of Presentation and Promotion, just as TV3 came on air. The following year McCready became TVNZ's Director of Programming, and revamped both TV1 and TV2 over a four year period. He headed overseas for a while, before returning to New Zealand as Director of Programming and Marketing for Sky TV. Before retiring in 2007, McCready successfully launched The Living Channel and Food TV on Sky.
In this ScreenTalk, McCready talks about:
- Getting into television by accident
- Taking on fledgling TV3 as Director of Programming for TVNZ, and highlighting the differing branding of TVNZ's channels
- How changing TVNZ into a competitive venture was his biggest challenge
- Overseeing the beginnings of reality TV on New Zealand screens
- Being proud of his part in commissioning Shortland Street, and fighting internal opposition to cover Australian Rugby League
- Having to rethink his mindset when moving to Sky TV
- Why he launched Sky News in New Zealand
- The importance of reality television to the local TV production industry
- Needing public service TV to create good drama shows, and the unfortunate cancellation of the Nothing Trivial series
- What the future of TV is likely to be
- Looking back on a varied and interesting career — and one of his biggest regrets
This video was first uploaded on the 28th of April 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute as part of this Creative Commons licence.
Irene Wood has played Katherine Mansfield, a nymphomaniac pensioner, and a gin-toting grandma to a Go Girl. Her screen career first got busy in the early days of NZ TV, as an actor, TV presenter, and musical performer. Years later she would snare what is probably her best-known role: as a hard-drinking grandma over five seasons of hit show Go Girls. Wood has also appeared on Shortland Street and in movies Rest for the Wicked and The Shirt.
In this ScreenTalk interview, Wood talks about:
- Her no-nonsense attitude to acting — and the only two rules that matter in the game
- Prancing around the stage” and singing-off key, in her first performing role
- Busy days of television in the 60s
- The advantages of being forced to perform live
- Wearing Elizabeth McRae’s clothes on Shortland Street
- Playing mother to a “hopeless drug addict son” in dark-edged movie The Shirt
- Her role as Nan McMann, one of a quartet of solo mothers on Go Girls
- Revelling in the chance to make a fool of herself on the show
- Playing a sex-obsessed pensioner alongside Ilona Rodgers, in film Rest for the Wicked
- Why there are less roles in NZ for actors of a certain vintage
- Her thoughts on portrayals of elderly characters on screen
This video was first uploaded on the 20th of April 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
John Milligan is an award-winning producer, director and writer who has worked on a wide range of shows for television. His many series credits include Maggie’s Garden Show, Epitaph, Shipwreck and Mucking In. Milligan was also producer and director of the documentaries Trio at the Top, New Zild and Von Tempsky’s Ghost.
In this ScreenTalk, Milligan talks about:
- Working on live, non-commercial morning show Weekend
- Commanding 14 cameras on his first documentary Monza Monaco Macau Wellington
- Not knowing anything about plants when he began on Maggie’s Garden Show
- Being surprised at how long it took to make Kiwi bach documentary A Summer Place
- Digging into history for his motor racing documentary Trio at the Top
- The challenge of creating battle scenes in the rain for Von Tempsky’s Ghost
- Convincing people Kiwis have an accent when making New Zild
- Thinking there’s too much TV nowadays
This video was first uploaded on the 13th of April 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.