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.
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.
Chas Toogood is an award-winning documentary producer and director whose work has showcased the strength and determination of the human spirit. He began his career as a news journalist and then moved on to a series of high profile documentaries including the Legends of the All Blacks series, Mark Inglis documentary No Mean Feat, and Sir Peter Blake – The Boy From Bayswater. Toogood has gone on to direct episodes of Wild Coasts with Craig Potton and Coast New Zealand.
In this ScreenTalk, Toogood talks about:
This video was first uploaded on the 7th of April 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.
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.
Scriptwriter, playwright and columnist James Griffin has been writing for most of his life. Since becoming a scriptwriter in the 1980s Griffin has written many of New Zealand’s most well known and best loved TV shows (including co-creating Outrageous Fortune) as well as the feature film Sione's Wedding. In this interview (originally published 8 July 2009), he discusses
- His love of writing from an early age but his desire to be a TV director
- Getting “side-tracked” into script editing and learning the mechanics of how a script works
- The popularity of Gloss and blending comedy and drama
- His surprise that the TV drama City Life flopped
- The rollercoaster ride that is Outrageous Fortune and when its run should end
- Criticism of NZ comedy
- What it takes to make a “hit” TV show
This video is also available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence. Credits: Interview, Camera & Editing – Andrew Whiteside
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.
Close to Home first screened on TV One in May 1975 and ran for eight years. The popular and ground-breaking series was New Zealand television's first soap opera. It was based in Wellington and centred around the trials and tribulations of the Hearte family. At its peak in 1977, Close to Home attracted a twice weekly audience of one million viewers.
In this special edition of ScreenTalk, writers and cast members reminisce about their time with Close to Home.
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.