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.
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.
Jane Wrightson is the Chief Executive of NZ On Air — the agency tasked with funding local television, digital media, music and radio. She began her career working for TVNZ, before becoming New Zealand's first woman Chief Film Censor. Wrightson started working at NZ On Air as the Television Manager before leaving for a stint as head of the Broadcasting Standards Authority. She returned to NZ On Air in 2007 as CEO.
In this ScreenTalk, Wrightson talks about:
- Early jobs for state broadcaster TVNZ
- Being paid to watch movies in her role as Chief Film Censor
- The three-legged stool: how NZ On Air's unique funding model works
- Why local programming is at the heart of the agency’s philosophy
- The strengths and weaknesses of the NZ On Air model
- The things NZ On Air has done that she is most proud of
- The success of Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune
- How changes in the TV landscape - including the internet - have affected NZ On Air
- How international co-productions could be working better
- Feeling she has "the best job in the country"
This video was first uploaded on the 4th of March 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Kate McDermott is a scriptwriter whose words have been heard in a long list of popular TV comedies and dramas. She began as a writer on Shortland Street, and later became a story-liner for the soap. McDermott then moved on to writing for series like Being Eve, Mercy Peak, Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune. In 2014, McDermott’s own creation Step Dave became a popular series for TVNZ. Series two is now in production.
In this ScreenTalk, McDermott talks about:
- Making a mess of her first Shortland Street script
- Eventually becoming a story-liner on the show
- Bringing a little Shakespeare to hit kids show Being Eve
- Binge-watching episodes of Mercy Peak in order to write for the show
- Loving the freedom to write swear words in Outrageous Fortune scripts
- Becoming a showrunner for Go Girls
- Enjoying working on the comedy drama Nothing Trivial
- Initially declining a job writing for drama The Blue Rose
- Having to work at a fast pace creating season one of Step Dave
This video was first uploaded on the 16th of February 2015 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Katrina Hobbs is a TV presenter and actor who has had roles in New Zealand, Australia and even Russia. She kicked off her screen career as a teen hero in The Boy from Andromeda and a young wife in the war film Absent Without Leave. Since then she has appeared in a large number of TV shows such as Shortland Street, Marlin Bay, Cover Story and Willy Nilly. As well as acting, she has presented factual shows including More than Sport, Destination Ski New Zealand and Russia Today.
In this ScreenTalk, Hobbs talks about:
- Getting good advice from her producer mother Aileen O’Sullivan about her first role in The Boy from Andromeda
- Studying hard to gain experience for her next role in Absent Without Leave
- Relishing playing her first ‘adult’ character in Marlin Bay
- Being thrown by the pace of production on Shortland Street
- Having a baptism of fire in a lead role on Home and Away
- Feeling frustrated by playing a matronly doctor on the soap
- How a character with schizophrenia challenged her in Cover Story
- Enjoying the camaraderie on the set of Willy Nilly
- Playing the dodgy neighbour on Rake
- Really appreciating having a career on both sides of the Tasman
This video was first uploaded on the 7th of November 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Kelly Johnson is best remembered for his lead role in the iconic Kiwi film Goodbye Pork Pie. He followed that success with roles in the films Carry Me Back, Bad Blood, Battletruck and Utu. In more recent times, Johnson has worked as a lawyer, but he still does occasional guest acting roles, including in Shortland Street and Maddigan’s Quest.
In this ScreenTalk, Johnson talks about:
- Understanding the process of filmmaking on the set of Goodbye Pork Pie
- Feeling excited to be acting in the country’s first road movie
- What the film means to him now
- Having problems with an old car in the television film Hang on a Minute Mate
- Underplaying the comedy on Carry Me Back
- Hanging out with the American crew on Battletruck
- The moody nature of the area when filming Bad Blood
- Trying to work out the acting style required for the movie Utu
- Feeling proud and privileged to have been a part of New Zealand’s early film industry
This video was first uploaded on June 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
This ScreenTalk marks the 21st birthday of Shortland St on May 25. Produced by South Pacific Pictures for TVNZ, the serial drama has screened five nights a week on TV2 since its inception. It has won awards, sold internationally and become a part of our national landscape and pop culture. A who's who of New Zealand acting talent, writers, directors and producers have worked on the soap.
In this special edition of ScreenTalk (published on 27 May 2013), some of the show's stalwarts reflect on their Shortland St days, and on the programme's importance to NZ and our screen industry.
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.
Shane Cortese made a name for himself on stage in London’s West End before coming home to New Zealand to begin a career in television. Since his return, Cortese has played TV roles across the spectrum of characters, including the evil Dominic Thompson in Shortland Street, and more recently Hayden Peters in Outrageous Fortune. In this ScreenTalk interview [originally published on 4 December 2010], Cortese reveals:
- His tumultuous contract wrangles upon leaving a UK stage show to return to NZ to be in Shortland Street
- What it is like playing the bad guy
- His initial feelings about the prospect of being on Dancing with the Stars
- How he developed his craft hosting So You Think You Can Dance
- The amusing story of learning about his starring role in Burying Brian
- How it felt to be part of the West family in Outrageous Fortune
- Details of his latest work in Brown Bruthas and The Almighty Johnsons
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.