From Peter Jackson's puppets to Tribeca Film Festival success...
Although Danny Mulheron’s 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 Peter Jackson to make Meet the Feebles. As well as co-writing, he composed songs for the sound track and played the puppet part of hippo Heidi, who won him an acting award from an Italian film festival, and a nomination for best female performance at the NZ Film/TV 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.
Shortly after he returned to Wellington to work on sketch comedy shows for the Gibson Group. In 1993 he began writing, acting and directing for award winning Skitz. This included core cast member Jemaine Clement, who would later form Flight of the Conchords.
Other directing assignments followed, including 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, plus episodes of The Tribe and Atlantis High.
In 2004 Gormsby was reborn. Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was based on a one-man show Mulheron had performed on stage. Working with Tom Scott and Dave Armstrong, Mulheron co-wrote, directed and produced two series of Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby for Television New Zealand. In Australia the show aired on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and in New Zealand was a Finalist for best script and best comedy in the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
In the same year Mulheron presented a car series AA Torque Show, and directed episodes of The Hothouse which earned a position as finalist for Best Director Drama in the 2007 Qantas Film and Television Awards.
In 2008 he co-directed with his producer wife Sara Stretton, a 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 in 2008 Mulheron flew to Raratonga to direct Paradise Café, a kidult ghost series made for the BBC. The two series were one of the highest rating childrens’ TV programmes in Britain for 2009.
The following year he directed tele-movie Eruption and in 2011 he helmed well-received tele-movie Rage, set during the 1981 Springbok tour. The movie was a finalist in seven categories in 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 Fresh Meat had several screenings at Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
The following year, Mulheron directed The Kick, the story of Steven Donald in the rugby World Cup. Later in 2014, filming began for Hillary, the story of Edmund Hillary. Mulheron directed all six episodes of the prime-time drama series for TVNZ. Filming continued into 2015 with mountain scenes in the South Island and on to Nepal and India.
2016 signalled a change in style and genre when Mulheron directed Why Does Love a rabble-rousing rock 'n roll movie about the Dance Exponents, a telemovie for TVNZ.