Simone Kessell first appeared on screen playing Hannah Tumai on short-lived soap Homeward Bound. She acted in both Hercules and Xena before being cast as a TV journalist on Cover Story, and as the lead in period drama Greenstone. Kessell has worked in both America and Australia, and appeared in Aussie dramas Underbelly and Wonderland.
In this ScreenTalk, Kessell talks about:
- Learning an Australian accent to play a Māori role on Homeward Bound
- Getting a role on Cover Story when only 18 years old
- Having to find a ‘fake’ way to cry on set
- Having issues with her character in period drama Greenstone
- Being proud of the part she played in series two of Underbelly
- Becoming a ‘kickass’ soldier fighting dinosaurs on Terra Nova
- Feeling devastated after being shot in the head on set
- Rehearsing in 40 degree heat for time travel tale The Lovers
- Playing a hooker with a heart of gold in Aussie drama Wonderland
This video was first uploaded on the 20th of October 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Murray Grindlay first rose to prominence as the lead singer in the 60s blues band The Underdogs. Since then he has written the music for a number of feature films, such as Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors and Broken English; as well as countless TV commercials, including the classics Dear John and the Great Crunchie Train Robbery. Currently Grindlay is producing a web-based kids music show The One Winged-Bee Called Emily.
In this ScreenTalk, Grindlay talks about:
This video was first uploaded on the 6th of October 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Emmy award-winning producer/director Denis Harvey cut his teeth on TVNZ information shows Dig This, Kaleidoscope, and Science Express. Later he moved into sports. Harvey has gone on to make a significant contribution to television sports coverage both nationally and internationally, particularly in America’s Cup coverage and Olympic yachting. In recent times, he has also produced Asian and Israeli versions of The Amazing Race.
In this ScreenTalk, Harvey talks about:
- Being a trainee director on classic garden show Dig This
- Creating the garden for the show at the Avalon TV studios
- Remembering the great people and locations on Country Calendar
- His regret that long-running arts show Kaleidoscope disappeared from TV
- Showcasing scientific innovations in Science Express
- Taking Sir Edmund Hillary back to Everest in Hillary: A View from the Top
- The challenges of creating live TV coverage for the America’s Cup
- Making sure coverage of the event is as bipartisan as possible
- Dealing with Team New Zealand’s loss while still on air
- How cutting edge 3D graphics transformed coverage of sailing
- Showing the heroic efforts of the crew in two Team New Zealand documentaries
- Taking up the challenge to cover Olympic yachting
- Winning a Sports Emmy award
- Why working on The Amazing Race was so challenging
This video was first uploaded on 29 September 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Veteran actress Kate Harcourt has had a long and distinguished career in theatre, television and film. Her first television role was as a presenter on the Wellington version of children’s show Junior Magazine. She would later appear in TV dramas such as Country GP, Plain Tastes, and the TV play Loose Enz - Free Enterprise. Harcourt has also acted in a number of feature films including Mr Wrong, Apron Strings and Savage Islands. Her most recent role was in Gaylene Preston’s TV miniseries Hope and Wire.
In this ScreenTalk, Harcourt talks about:
- Presenting next to a terrifying hippopotamus on Junior Magazine
- Making sure she stuck to the script filming Beyond Reasonable Doubt
- Meeting Arthur Allan Thomas on the set
- Being confronted by a mouse in a sandwich in Loose Enz - Free Enterprise
- Exposing herself to the cast on the set of Savage Islands
- Having an odd conversation with actor Tommy Lee Jones
- Winning ‘best female actress’ for the film Pacific Dreams
- How workshopping with other actresses influenced the script of Hook, Line and Sinker
- Working in the red zones of Christchurch filming Hope and Wire
- Why theatre is her greatest love
This video was first uploaded on September 22 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Roger Donaldson moved to New Zealand from Australia at age 19. Starting out as a stills photographer, he moved into film with a series of commercials for the Labour Party’s 1972 election campaign. Around the same time, he also heard of the Invercargill DIY motorcycle legend Burt Munro, and made the documentary Offerings to the God of Speed.
Donaldson put himself in risky positions while filming adventure documentaries, including The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary. With his friend Ian Mune, he created Winners and Losers, a landmark series of dramas based on stories by New Zealand writers, which in turn inspired the pair to adapt CK Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream into feature film Sleeping Dogs. The major turning point in Donaldson’s career was his feature Smash Palace, which screened at Cannes and earned rave reviews.
Since Smash Palace, Donaldson has thrived in Hollywood, working with notable actors including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. He returned to New Zealand to make the Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.
In this ScreenTalk, Donaldson talks about:
- Filming commercials for Norman Kirk’s Labour Party
- Taking risks to film at high speeds on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
- The treacherous conditions on The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary, and having his feet warmed in someone else’s armpits while sheltering in a snow cave
- Getting support from Don Brash and the NZ Air Force for his counter-culture film Sleeping Dogs
- Arranging a private screening of Sleeping Dogs for then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon
- The moment he was inspired to write Smash Palace
- Convincing a reluctant NZ Film Commission to back the film
- Changing the child character from a boy to a girl after meeting Greer Robson
- How Smash Palace’s climactic train scene was filmed
- Writing a sequel to Conan the Barbarian with Ian Mune
- Taking over from David Lean as director of The Bounty
- Helping to create a Beach Boys revival thanks to the soundtrack to Cocktail
- Making up with Anthony Hopkins after falling out on The Bounty
This video was first uploaded on September 8 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Philly de Lacey is the Managing Director of production company Screentime NZ. Screentime has produced a number of crime documentaries and dramas, and De Lacey has been involved with many of them as Executive Producer. Her credits include documentary series Police Ten 7, Water Patrol and Marae DIY; and the dramas Bloodlines, Siege, Safe House and Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud. Currently De Lacey has two telemovies in post-production: How to Murder Your Wife, and Venus and Mars.
In this ScreenTalk, de Lacey talks about:
- Wanting to demystify the police in Police Ten 7
- Having to carefully edit the programme to protect the vulnerable
- The joy of making ‘feel good’ show Marae DIY
- Making sure victims of crime were okay with being part of Beyond the Darklands
- Dealing carefully with legal issues with Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud
- Being emotionally affected when filming Siege
- Justifying the decision to make How to Murder Your Wife a black comedy
This video was first uploaded on September 1 2014. This video is not part of the Creative Commons licence.
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. In 2014, Dale was cast as General Rysen, a lead in the SyFy series Dominion.
In this ScreenTalk, Dale talks about:
- Growing up in a theatre family
- Deciding to become an actor at age 29
- Talking his way onto Radio Hauraki after hearing a DJ quit live on air while he was doing a milk run
- Talking his way into television in a similar way
- Playing a version of his Radio Hauraki boss in his first screen role on Radio Waves
- Landing an agent and a job on his first day in Australia
- His eight years playing kindly patriarch Jim Robinson on Neighbours
- Why he wasn’t upset at being written out of Neighbours
- How Natalie Imbruglia’s music video for Torn (which was directed by Alison Maclean) inspired him to move to Hollywood
- Taking acting lessons for the first time as an older actor in Los Angeles
- Discovering, after years as the “nice guy”, how to play bad guys
- Why he’s glad his mother wasn’t alive to see Auckland Daze
- Flying to New York to play the Australian Ambassador in the HBO series Flight of the Conchords
This video was first uploaded on August 18 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
James Napier Robertson began his career as an actor in the teen shows Being Eve and The Tribe. Finding acting unfulfilling, he moved into writing and directing with the short film Foul Play, before forming a production company with business partner Tom Hern. Since then Napier Robertson has directed two features: I’m Not Harry Jenson and The Dark Horse.
In this ScreenTalk, Napier Robertson talks about:
- Feeling validated yet unfulfilled as an actor on Being Eve
- Meeting his future production partner Tom Hern on the kids show The Tribe
- Possibly taking on too many roles directing his short film Foul Play
- Underestimating the budget on his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson
- Thinking he’d almost killed one of the actresses on set
- The responsibility of writing the true story The Dark Horse
- Feeling very lucky to have created a dream cast for the film
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Robert Boyd-Bell has made a huge contribution to the development of TV news reporting in New Zealand. He began his career as a reporter with the fledgling NZBC News service in the mid 1960s, and later headed the northern newsroom of TV One in the 1970s. Boyd-Bell has also worked as a documentary producer, and was instrumental in setting up educational television services eTV and The Knowledge Breakfast. He is a keen advocate for public service broadcasting.
In this ScreenTalk, Boyd-Bell talks about:
- Why the NZBC had to set up its own news service
- The slow journey international news took to get on air, in the days before a national network
- Bringing changes to the newsroom
- The infamous Tonight interview with Sir Robert Muldoon
- Establishing educational television service eTV
- How The Knowledge Breakfast became the first online TV show in New Zealand
- How family dynamics proved a challenge making Billy T: Te Movie
- How his fascination with Kiri Te Kanawa led to the doco My Breathing is Singing
- Why New Zealand needs a non-commercial TV service
This video was first uploaded on July 28 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Veteran broadcaster Bill McCarthy was the popular face of TV news and sport in the 1970s. Starting as a sports anchor, he later moved to primetime news-reading, and then became a producer on the classical music series Opus, as well as one-off big event television such as the 1987 Rugby World Cup and Telethon. In later years, McCarthy has produced host broadcasts for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and become involved with Christian broadcaster Shine TV.
In this ScreenTalk, McCarthy talks about:
- Having to learn on the job in the early days of NZBC news
- How the 1974 Commonwealth Games changed broadcasting
- Being initially reluctant to read the news on TV One
- Why he didn’t really like hosting Top Town
- Moving to producing with the classical music show Opus
- Having his greatest experience ever filming the yachting documentary Two Boats Two Dreams
- The stress and satisfaction of producing the 1987 Rugby World Cup
- The chaos of producing Telethon
- Having one of the most varied careers in television
This video was first uploaded on July 14 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.