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.
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.
Tom Hern is a film producer who began his screen career as a junior reporter on children’s television show What Now?. He went on to star in The Tribe, where he met his future business partner James Napier Robertson. Hern acted in a number of other TV shows such as Shortland Street and Power Rangers, before producing his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson. Since then Hern has produced features Everyting We Loved and The Dark Horse.
In this ScreenTalk, Hern talks about:
- How confidence as an 11-year-old got him a job on What Now?
- Meeting his hero Ben Harper on the show
- Failing his first audition to play the villain in kidult hit The Tribe
- How the show led to meeting his long term business partner
- Playing his first adult role on Shortland Street
- The changing nature of his character on the soap
- Being in the ‘deep end’ producing I’m Not Harry Jenson
- Using acting relationships to help cast the film
- How Everything We Loved was the smoothest film he’s worked on
- Working with director Max Currie to set the tone of the film
- The long hard road making feature film The Dark Horse
- Being blessed by a dream cast, from Cliff Curtis to newbie Wayne Hapi
- Feeling privileged to do the work he does
This video was first uploaded on the 31st of March 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Don Reynolds is a sound operator turned film producer who has had a big impact on the New Zealand film industry. He was a sound recorder/mixer on many of our classic films of the 1980s and went on to produce movies such as The Quiet Earth, Sylvia, Mr Wrong, and River Queen. Reynolds was also one of the main forces behind the setting up of long-running TV soap Shortland Street.
In this ScreenTalk, Reynolds talks about:
- Working with overseas actors for the first time on the film Beyond Reasonable Doubt
- investing in hit movie Goodbye Pork Pie
- Having to drive hundreds of miles a day to make the film
- Being proud of his gunshot-filled sound work on the classic Utu
- Being treated as a second-class citizen on Savage Islands
- The pressure of facing a funding deadline on The Quiet Earth
- Delaying the shoot of Illustrious Energy by a year
- Facing huge problems in making the film River Queen
- Being instrumental in getting Shortland Street on air
- How lunch breaks were his biggest contribution to the industry.
This video was first uploaded on the 23rd of March 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Mark Everton started his broadcasting career in radio, before joining the TVNZ newsroom in 1985. After jumping ship to help run Nightline for TV3, he set himself up as an independent producer and director. Everton has been involved with a number of award-winning documentaries including Back from the Dead and Lawson Quins doco The Five of Us. His credits also include the series Epitaph, Captain’s Log, MasterChef New Zealand and Making New Zealand.
In this ScreenTalk, Everton talks about:
- Learning "so much" while working with the late Angela D’Audney and others on Eyewitness News
- Moving to TV3 for the "rock'n'roll" days of late night news programme Nightline
- How the network’s receivership led to better stories
- How a chance conversation about graveyards lead to hit show Epitaph
- Successfully convincing the Lawson Quins to tell their story in The Five of Us
- Finding out too late there were a lot of family home movies
- Working with Johnny Givins and Gresham Bradley on Captain’s Log
- Getting memorable advice about seasickness on one of the journeys
- Obtaining rare footage of a real murder investigation for Operation Bouma
- Asking the tough questions of contestants on MasterChef New Zealand
- How Making New Zealand was much more than just an archive series
This video was first uploaded on the 16th of March 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Versatile director Mike Smith has made an enormous amount of New Zealand drama. Highlights of his lengthy television CV include Radio Waves, Duggan, Serial Killers, The Almighty Johnsons, Nothing Trivial, tele-movie Siege and upcoming docudrama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse. Smith also had a big hand in creating Heroes (80s pop band on-the-make show), yokels comedy Willy Nilly, children’s drama The Lost Children and 2013 comedy Sunny Skies. He was also one of the key players in the launch of Outrageous Fortune.
In this ScreenTalk interview, Smith talks about:
- The unforgettable personnel officer when he interviewed to join state television
- Vital lessons learned from drama head John McRae, while directing 70s soap Radio Waves
- Producing and directing Heroes, the drama series about a pop band
- Failing to cast a young unknown called Russell Crowe
- Differences between Australia and NZ, after eight years largely working across the Tasman
- Returning home for drama series Cover Story
- Creating shows after setting up a production company with editor John Gilbert
- Making successful short Willy Nilly, about two “rural idiots,” and learning about the complexities of comedy on the hit TV series which followed
- Casting secrets from his days as producer of Outrageous Fortune: including a lack of network enthusiasm for star Robyn Malcolm, and Munter originally being a Pākehā
- Working with “fantastic” producer/director Mark Beesley on The Almighty Johnsons
- How in a sense directing is a little bit like sex
- Taking different approaches to turning true life stories into drama with Siege and Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud
- Lessons learned as a director
This video was first uploaded on 28 April 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Veteran producer/director John Laing has worked in film and television in New Zealand, Canada and the UK. His feature films include the Arthur Allan Thomas-inspired Beyond Reasonable Doubt, cross-cultural romance Other Halves and thriller Dangerous Orphans. Laing has also directed a long list of popular drama series for TV, including Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, Street Legal, Inside Straight and Marlin Bay; plus tele-feature Safe House.
In this ScreenTalk, Laing talks about:
- Upsetting the National Film Unit with his unconventional film Kariotahi Beach
- Learning how to direct a feature film on the set of Beyond Reasonable Doubt
- Taking on too many roles on offbeat thriller The Lost Tribe
- Getting back to basic story-telling on Inside Straight
- Being unhappy with the end result on feature film Other Halves
- Relishing the prospect of creating film noir feature Dangerous Orphans
- The challenge of juggling different directors on Outrageous Fortune
- Creating an 'intense' set for tele-feature Safe House
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Gaylene Preston has called Robin Laing "an oasis of reason and practicality" in the chaos that is filmmaking. Laing began making feature films at a time when women producers were rare in New Zealand. Since then she has produced an eclectic mix of features, short films and arts documentaries, and often lent a hand to emerging filmmakers. In this ScreenTalk interview, the MBE-awarded producer talks about:
- A movie-mad childhood
- First meeting director Gaylene Preston, who persuaded Laing to try out producing
- Being told to go get a man – and also that women "are not an audience" – while getting debut feature Mr Wrong off the ground
- Distributing Mr Wrong themselves, after sellout festival screenings somehow persuaded distributors and TV networks the film had no audience
- Her interest in history and telling our stories
- Behind-the-scenes stories of covert property-buying for comedy hit Ruby and Rata
- Persuading MP Sonja Davies to let a man write her story on the acclaimed Bread and Roses
- Paying tribute to treasured collaborator Graeme Tetley
- Working with filmmakers Shirley Horrocks (Flip & Two Twisters) and Niki Caro (The Vintner's Luck)
- Her interest in working with emerging filmmakers, including on an anthology series for television
- How women's stories have become more acceptable in the market place
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.