Great Southern is a spirited multi genre indie that aims to make great television and film for the world. We thrive on creating strong ideas we believe in, attaching really talented and motivated staff and then delivering this content to our extensive list of partnering broadcasters.
Our goal is to focus on network needs, ensuring each commissioned series is aligned with the broadcaster's various goals. We have set our own high production standards and we're striving to lift these on a daily basis.
We kicked off in 2002 and we really have grown quickly, but without compromising our standards on any production. As a result we have an exciting roster in the drama, factual, comedy, light entertainment and film genres.
Great Southern Television is run by producers Philip Smith and Rachel Gardner. It is also part owned by retail legend David Levene.
The company has worked with a host of broadcasters locally and internationally, including the Discovery Channel, TVNZ, TV3, SKY and ESPN. New Zealand on Air, the government funding agency, is also a major supporter and funding partner of GSTV programming.
Head of factual , light entertainment, non scripted comedy.
Philip specialises in creating, writing and pitching shows. He is also Managing Director.
Since setting up Great Southern Film & Television in 2002 he has had the good fortune to see more than 20 of his original television ideas commissioned and produced. The ideas include dramas, tele-features, seven comedies and a raft of factual and reality programming. Among his highlights:
- Eating Media Lunch ran to eight seasons whilst TVNZ commissioned four seasons of its cousin, The Unauthorised History of New Zealand. Both series continue to have a loyal fanbase.
- The Lion Man has sold globally to over 120 countries.
- Remarkable Vets screens on National Geographic's Wild Channel.
- 13 part drama, The Cult is screened worldwide.
- Rescue 1 is now in its fourth season and rating better than ever
Philip concentrates on being ahead creatively but also producing shows that really work and deliver for the networks, and ultimately the audience.
Head of Drama, Film, Scripted Comedy.
Rachel was voted The Woman to Watch in New Zealand Film and Television. We joked that it is hard to watch Rachel because she goes so fast - producing feature films, primetime factual series and a major network drama simultaneously.
Rachel has worked in the media since 1991 and has a First Class Honours degree from University College London and a Masters degree from The London School of Economics. Rachel's skill lies in the film and drama areas although she has also delivered a raft of top rating factual shows and comedies to the New Zealand networks.
Her first feature film, Apron Strings, was selected for the Toronto Film Festival and she produced The Cult, an $8M drama for TVNZ.
Rachel also has a significant drama development slate and works closely with most of New Zealand's film and drama writers.
She is always in the market for co-production partners internationally in the film, tele-feature and long run drama series areas.
Yvonne Donohoe joined Great Southern Film & Television after four years at Element Pictures in Ireland and London, where she worked as a Development Executive with Producer Ed Guiney. Yvonne headed up Elements Irish feature film development slate and worked across both the UK feature film and TV drama slates, providing creative support to the Producers and Heads of Development as well as being responsible for acquiring and developing projects in Ireland and the UK.
During her time at Element, Yvonne worked on the development and production of many feature film projects including; Garage from writer Mark O'Halloran and director Lenny Abrahamson, which was selected for Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and won the CICAE Art and Essai award, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, directed by Ken Loach, which Element co-produced and which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and has become the most successful independent film ever released in Ireland, and Zonad, directed by John Carney, director of the film Once,. She also worked on a number of television projects.
Since 2002 GSTV has notched up a series of achievements:
Our flagship comedy Eating Media Lunch screened eight series on TV2. The show won best comedy at the Qantas Awards in 2008.
Philip and Rachel were voted NZ Producers of the Year in 2008.
Also in 2008, our show Who wants to be a Millionaire? was a number one hit in New Zealand.
The observational documentary, The Lion Man, has been a local and international hit and is currently broadcast in over 120 countries. It was a number one show in New Zealand.
Our first drama, The Pretender, was a critical success. The second season was equally successful, leading us down the drama track. Our $8M drama, The Cult, for TVNZ won multiple Qantas Film and Television Awards in 2010.
In 2008 our movie Apron Strings screened at the Toronto Film Festival and Show of Hands screened at the Montreal Film Festival.