Acting Masterclass With Danny Mulheron

“If it’s funny you don’t have to be funny doing it”.  An opportunity to work with Danny Mulheron on what he has learnt and unlearnt directing comedies for the stage and screen. Danny will be working with the attendees on scenes showing his approach to bringing out the best of the actor. Attendees should be prepared to be active participants.  

06 May 2017
10:00:00 -  17:00:00

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Danny Mulheron is a hard man to tie down. Though his career as actor/writer/director is laced with every kind of comedy from drug-addicted puppets he created with Peter Jackson to old school teachers (Mr Gormsby), he has also been known to keep a straight face. Mulheron has directed award winning television dramas, documentaries and smash hit theatre productions.

His career began as a child actor on a long running soap Close to Home and after graduating from drama school in the late1980’s, Mulheron played parts in various New Zealand movies as well as writing, acting and directing in numerous TV and theatre productions. 

In 1989 Mulheron joined director Peter Jackson's writing team. Jackson had three fevered weeks to expand Meet the Feebles, a short film about dysfunctional puppets, into a full-length script. The Feebles movie saw Mulheron sweating buckets inside a foam suit, as he played prima donna hippo Heidi. In the process Mulheron won an acting award from an Italian fantasy film festival, and a nomination for best male performance at the 1990 NZ Film and Television Awards.

Mulheron moved to Los Angeles, contracted by New Line Cinema to collaborate with Peter Jackson on a Nightmare on Elm St sequel. The collaboration continued with Jackson, this time with Wingnut Films on a Monty Python style fantasy Blubberhead. Mulheron also spent time in Hollywood, working on a puppet television show for Fox television.

Between his adventures in Jacksonville and Hollywood, Mulheron began working on the first of many comedy sketch shows for Wellington production company Gibson Group. In 1993 he began writing, acting and directing sketch comedy for award winning Skitz. This included core cast member Jemaine Clement, who would later form Flight of the Conchords.  

Mulheron followed Skitz with a varied range of directing assignments. This included two series of Roger Hall’s Market Forces, which made him a finalist for Best Comedy Director in the 1999 Film and TV Awards. In the same awards he had two out of three nominations for Best Comedy Director with The Semisis giving him the other nomination.

For the next couple of years, Mulheron’s screen directing swung away from comedy. He helmed many episodes of The Strip, a tale of a woman, her relationships and her strip club; plus episodes of kidult success The Tribe and short-lived follow-up Atlantis High.

In 2004 Gormsby was reborn. Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was based on a one-man show Mulheron had performed on stage in previous years. Working with Tom Scott and long time colleague Dave Armstrong, Mulheron set about creating a tale of a racist, sexist teacher from another era, who challenges the norms at a low decile school. With Mulheron concentrating on directing, the role of Gormsby went to David Mcphail.

The show was a finalist for best script and best comedy in the 2006 NZ Screen Awards. In Australia the show aired on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Since directing Gormsby, Mulheron has presented car series AA Torque Show, and directed tele-movie Eruption - which includes scenes of a volcano erupting in Auckland harbour - plus episodes of award-nominated drama The Hothouse, for which Danny was a finalist for Best Director Drama in the 2007 Qantas Film and Television Awards.

In 2008 he and partner-wife Sara Stretton co-directed feature-length documentary The Third Richard, which examines the life of Mulheron's late grandfather Richard Fuchs, a Jewish composer whose music was banned by the Nazis.

Later Mulheron flew to Raratonga to direct Paradise Café, a kidult tale of ghosts and banana smoothies made for the BBC. The two series were one of the highest rating childrens’ TV programmes in Britain for 2009.

In 2011 he helmed well-received tele-movie Rage. Set during the them-and-us days of the 1981 Springbok tour, Rage revolves around the relationship between a student protestor, and a Māori policewoman working undercover. The movie was a finalist in seven categories of the 2012 Television and Film Awards, Mulheron a finalist as Best Director Drama/Comedy.

In 2012 Mulheron directed a comedy-horror tale about a gang of criminals who take a Maori family hostage, only to discover that cannibalism runs in the family. Fresh Meat includes Temuera Morrison and Kate Elliott. In 2013 it had five screenings in the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and was beamed out to over 50,000 households in North America, Britain and Europe.

The Kick followed in 2014, a television movie for TVNZ and in 2015 Hillary was filmed. This was a six episode drama series for TVNZ about the life of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.

2016 brought Why Does Love a television movie for TVNZ, the story of the rock band Dance Exponents. This will be aired later in 2017.

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