Mark‘s film making career includes award-winning work across multiple formats and has received international acclaim.
Mark started to attract national attention when he created the groundbreaking award winning arts TV Series, The Living Room. After three successful series he gained a reputation for creating insightful beautiful stories about people. The Living Room's presenters ranged from The Black Seeds to comedians The Naked Samoans. The show also featured early appearances from Taika Waititi and Flight of the Conchords.
This included a host of feature TV documentaries Blakey – a documentary about NZ sailing legend Sir Peter Blake, War of the Words about NZ’s first competitor to compete in Washington DC’s Scripps Spelling B and 16 Sleepless Nights a film about mental health and creativity. His Artsville documentary about artist Tanya Thompson (aka Misery) called The Magical World of Misery won the 2006 Qantas NZ Television Award for arts/festival documentary.
In 2007, Mark turned to drama and directed short films Run and The Six Dollar Fifty Man in collaboration with an old school friend, Louis Sutherland. Both of their short films went on to win in competition at the worlds most prestigious international film festivals. Run and The Six Dollar Fifty Man both premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and both won the Jury Prize (runner up to the Palm Dior). Mark and Louis went on to make their debut feature Shopping. Shopping debuted in early 2013 at Sundance. It was one of 119 films accepted into the festival, out of more than 4,000 entries. At the Berlin festival the following month, it won the Grand Prix for the best feature in its section, Generation 14 plus International. It went on to take away six Moa NZ Film Awards, including Best Film, Director, Screenplay and for actor Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
The exceptional success of The Six Dollar Fifty Man kicked off Mark’s TV commercial career. Since 2010, he has been traveling the world directing commercials for global commercial production company Sweetshop for brands, like Audi, Lotto, Nationwide Bank, Lloyds, Bank of America, Thomas Cook, Three Mobile, Sky, McDonald’s and Lipton. Mark has picked up gongs from the most coveted advertising award shows, including two Cannes Lions and numerous Pencils at the D&AD, and a host of other golds from awards shows from around the world.
Mark is currently working on a feature film called Cat Burglar with writer Paul Stanley Ward and his latest documentary Billy and the Kids is playing in the 2019 NZ International Film Festival . He is continuing to build his commercial career with www.thesweetshop.tv
Sharlene was born and raised by her Cook Island parents and grandparents in Ponsonby in the late 1960’s.
After beginning her career as production assistant/manager in a typography house for four years, she moved to London in 1989. Over her nine years in the UK, she worked in production across all forms – from advertising agencies, FMCG companies, The Walt Disney Co., Buena Vista Home Entertainment and freelance as stills and film producer for commercial film production companies.
She returned to New Zealand in 1998 after a colleague convinced her to take up a job as a producer in NZ film company, Film Construction where she produced (now business partner) Melanie Bridge. Together they moved as a director/producer team to Silverscreen Productions in 1999 where they met their future third business partner, Paul Prince.
In 2001, Paul, Melanie and Sharlene started Sweetshop in New Zealand. Today the company represents a roster of 36 directors globally, with fully serviced production companies in eight cities around the world: Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, New York, Bangkok, Shanghai and London.
Over the last 18 years, Sharlene has covered a multitude of roles at the Sweetshop; producing, developing directors and producers, researching and setting up a production office in each international city. As Chief Operating Officer, Sharlene ensures that each office meets financial targets, upkeeps the high production standards internationally required as a global production company and oversee an international team of seven Executive Producers, eight in-house producers and two bidding producers.
Founded in 2001, Sweetshop has today grown into a multi-disciplinary production company with a global reach, working with 36 Directors across 8 offices: Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai, Bangkok, London, New York and Los Angeles. Each office is set up to cater for its own local needs, however there is also a seamlessness to our global team.
Over the last 18 months, Sweetshop has developed beyond its core business of commercial advertising, evolving as a production company and as management, expanding its offering. Moving towards being more of an entertainment company, this opens many more doors of opportunities and offers broader platforms for its roster to express their creativity and their craft.
For Sweetshop’s roster of directors, developing its business into new areas gives it the pathway to develop stories that have many different forms – commercial advertising, music videos and music tours, feature films, screen development, passion projects, TV shows, books and photography.
Sweetshop is currently developing long-form scripts and securing funding for Directors, including Mark Albiston, Melanie Bridge, James Haworth, Damien Shatford and David Petch. These are directors whose creative talents have many layers and the excitement we’ve seen from them about applying this to our new business model has been absolutely inspiring.