'writer' Posts

John Milligan: Documenting New Zealand history and lifestyle...

Posted on 13 April 2015

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.



john milligan, producer, director, writer, maggie’s garden show, epitaph, shipwreck, mucking in, documentary, trio at the top, new zild, von tempsky’s ghost, new zild, tv, new zealand television, bach, gardening, cars, carhead, a summer place, monza monaco macau wellington, architecture, bruce mclaren, denny hulme, chris amon, motorracing, motor-racing, goodwood, nz on air, michael oconnor, language, accents, linguistics, edward r morrow, edward morrow, television, producing, directing, live television, von tempsky

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Peter Wells: Desperate Remedies and making queer films...

Posted on 12 May 2014

Peter Wells is an accomplished writer and director who has explored gay and historical themes in his work. Among his television and film credits are the ground-breaking TV dramas Jewel’s Darl and A Death in the Family. Wells also created the feature film Desperate Remedies with co-director Stewart Main. In later years he has collaborated with filmmakers Annie Goldson (Georgie Girl) and Garth Maxwell (Naughty Little Peeptoe). 

In this ScreenTalk, Wells talks about:

  • The idea for My First Suit coming from his co-director Stewart Main
  • Knowing that the TV drama Jewel’s Darl would enrage people
  • How actress Georgina Beyer was made for the role of Jewel
  • Filming a scene in front of a real protest against homosexual law reform
  • Having a huge problem with TV censors over the drama
  • How a personal experience lead to the film A Death in the Family
  • Turning a desire to save at-risk architecture into The Mighty Civic
  • How budget constraints lead to the high theatre of Desperate Remedies
  • Having to convince the Film Commission on the casting choices
  • Telling the impressive story of Georgina Beyer in Georgie Girl
  • Believing that queer filmmaking does have a future 

This video was first uploaded on 12 May 2014 and is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence. 



peter wells, writer, director, gay, nz tv dramas, jewels darl, a death in the family, desperate remedies, stewart main, annie goldson, georgie girl, garth maxwell, naughty little peeptoe, my first suit, georgina beyer, the mighty civic, queer

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James Griffin gets serious about Kiwi comedy

Posted on 13 January 2014

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



nzonscreen, television, writer, outrageous fortune, james griffin, city life, south pacific pictures

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Bruce Morrison: Heartland, poetry and liquor bottles…

Posted on 4 March 2013

Bruce Morrison's career as a producer, director and writer has brought some memorable New Zealand stories to the screen. He has been involved in a number of arts shows such as Kaleidoscope and Profiles, as well as poetry documentaries The Roaring 40's Tour and The Road to Jerusalem. Morrison directed the feature films Constance, Shaker Run and Queen City Rocker, and was a long-time director on Gary McCormick's iconic Heartland documentary series.

In this ScreenTalk, Morrison talks about: 

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



the road to jerusalem, kaleidoscope, raglan by the sea, queen city rocker, screentalk, the roaring 40s tour, interview, heartland, bruce morrison, director, shaker run, profiles, producer, writer, bastion point, constance

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Fiona Samuel: Marching to success…

Posted on 10 December 2012

Fiona Samuel has found success as an actor, writer and director. Her first acting job was in long-running soap Close to Home, and she followed that with appearances in a number of film and TV shows. Samuel’s greatest passion, however, is for writing and directing. She was the creative force behind The Marching Girls, and has written scripts for shows such as Outrageous FortuneThe Almighty Johnsons and Rude Awakenings. Samuel also wrote and directed award-winning one-off dramas Piece of My Heart, and Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield. In this ScreenTalk, Samuel talks about:

  • Being too theatrical on the set of Close to Home
  • Creating the concept for The Marching Girls
  • Discovering her scriptwriting skills needed an overhaul
  • Adding a prostitute to the original story in Home Movie
  • How a surprising statistic led her to create the documentary Virginity
  • Taking 10 years to get Piece of My Heart funded
  • The reasons she picked the main actresses
  • Bringing a fresh but authentic feel to Bliss
  • Wishing she’d had even more opportunities in her career
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



director, interview, rena owen, actor, writer, outrageous fortune, close to home, bliss, katherine mansfield, Screentalk, The Almighty Johnsons, the marching girls, fiona samuels, wude awakenings, piece of my heart, home movie

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Nick Ward: on self-plagiarism for success

Posted on 21 February 2012

Nick Ward is a prolific and award-winning screenwriter. He attracted notice with the hit feature film Stickmen, a Wellington lads-on-the-make tale that potted him the best script gong in the 2001 New Zealand Film and TV Awards. He originated, and then co-wrote, popular recycling relationship comedy Second-Hand Wedding (2008); and wrote the original script for Love Birds (2011). His TV screenwriting credits include Outrageous Fortune, Burying Brian, Nothing Trivial and The Cult. Ward has also worked in front of the camera, co-presenting The Big Art Trip with Douglas Lloyd Jenkins. In this ScreenTalk, Ward talks about:

  • How he plagiarised his own life in writing Stickmen
  • Creating a fake bar for the film that everyone seemed to know
  • Acting a ‘hurtful’ sex scene with Luanne Gordon
  • Driving Douglas Lloyd Jenkins up the wall in The Big Art Trip
  • Basing the script of Second-Hand Wedding on his own family
  • How all of the second-hand props in the movie belonged to his Mum
  • Resisting pressure to change the film
  • Bringing his obsession for pub quizzes into the scripts of Nothing Trivial
  • Realising he is still learning the craft after 10 years writing
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



interview, writer, outrageous fortune, the cult, second-hand wedding, stickmen, nothing trivial, Screentalk, screenwriter, Nick Ward, secondhand wedding, burying brian, the big art trip, love birds

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Judy Callingham - writing our classics

Posted on 16 August 2011

Judy Callingham has had a long and varied television career as a reporter, presenter, and writer. She first appeared on our screens as a continuity announcer, but then moved on to reporting on the 1960s regional programme Town and Around. Callingham then developed her skills as a television drama writer on shows such as Close to Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. In this ScreenTalk interview, Callingham talks about:

  • How a friendly rivalry with a co-reporter on Town and Around forced her to confront a fear of heights
  • Loving being a show runner on Close to Home
  • How the show led to complaints that it didn’t represent real New Zealanders
  • Why writing for Gloss made her a better person to live with
  • That the superb cast of the show made the scripts better
  • Basing the lead character of her TV play Casualties of Peace on her father
  • The ‘organic’ process of writing the scripts for The Billy T James Show
  • Doing a writing experiment while creating scene breakdowns for Shortland Street
  • Admitting she became a writer because she was appalling at being an actress

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



gloss, writer, shortland street, town and around, new zealand television, close to home, shark in the park, casualties of peace, the billy t james show

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Roger Hall - sitcom king

Posted on 22 February 2011

Playwright and screenwriter Roger Hall has made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s television landscape. Two of his highly successful stage comedies became TV hits - Gliding On and Neighbourhood Watch. Hall wrote three one-off TV plays for the Spotlight series:The Bach, The Reward, and Some People Get All the Luck. As well as his own creations, Hall has also written for Pukemanu and Spin Doctors. In this ScreenTalk interview, Hall talks about:

  • Rolling on the floor laughing while writing for the sitcom Buck House
  • Why he took his name off the credits in series two
  • How mega-hit Gliding On was initially rejected by TVNZ and why the show became so popular
  • The genesis of Middle Age Spread and the complexity of the story
  • The joy of writing for the very topical and fast turn-around satire Spin Doctors
  • Trying to bribe his way out of a visit to Uganda in Intrepid Journeys
  • Getting dumped in the Nile on a rafting trip

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



theatre, writer, drama, playwright, stage, nz television

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Gavin Strawhan - writing the favourites

Posted on 8 February 2011

Aussie import Gavin Strawhan is a screen writer who has had a hand in many of our recent TV drama successes. After assisting with the set up of Shortland Street, Strawhan then teamed with writing colleague Rachel Lang to create the drama series Jackson's Wharf, Mercy Peak, Lawless, and This is Not My Life. Strawhan has worked on Burying Brian, Go Girls, and Outrageous Fortune; and co-created the kidult drama Being Eve. He also helped develop a number of feature films such as Crooked Earth, Whale Rider, and Jubilee, and in 2010 wrote the screenplay for Matariki. In this ScreenTalk interview, Strawhan talks about:

  • The difficulty in finding experienced writers at the beginning of Shortland Street
  • How bringing on writer Rachel Lang made a huge difference to the soap
  • How Shortland Street brought real kiwi accents and characters to the small screen
  • Realising the impact writers have on a show while writing for Lawless
  • Go Girls being a show about kindness and optimism
  • How This is Not My Life was partly a critique of capitalism
  • How the finished version of Matariki was a lot more serious than the script he worked on
  • How a director’s vision differs from a writer’s vision
  • Why being a writer involves ‘fraud’
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



writer, comedy, outrageous fortune, NZ Film, NZ television, drama series, shortland street

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David Fane - a comedic delight

Posted on 1 February 2011

David Fane failed comedy at drama school. But since leaving Toi Whakaari, Fane has delighted audiences with his comic performances in Skitz, The Semisis, Tongan Ninja, bro’Town, Sione's Wedding, Outrageous Fortune, Eagle vs Shark and Radiradirah. Fane has also appeared in the drama series The Market and The Strip, and the feature film The Tattooist. In this ScreenTalk interview, Fane discusses:

  • His feelings about Toi Whakaari
  • How he landed his first TV role on Skitz
  • What it was like acting with his mates on The Semisis
  • How his character’s name came about in Tongan Ninja
  • Behind-the-scenes observations from The Strip
  • How bro’Town began, and the important messages behind some of the silliness
  • The joys of playing Falani in Outrageous Fortune
  • Hilarious behind-the-scenes details from Eagle vs Shark
  • How performances were worked up in Radiradirah
  • An insight into upcoming feature film Love Birds
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



actor, bro'Town, writer, comedy, skitz, comedian, NZ television, falani

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