John O'Shea (director)

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For other persons named John O'Shea, see John O'Shea (disambiguation).

John Dempsey O'Shea, OBE (20 June 1920 – 8 July 2001) was a New Zealand independent filmmaker; he was a director, producer, writer and actor.

He was active from 1940 to 1970, and in 1952 set up Pacific Films in Wellington with Roger Mirams. He produced numerous short films and the three New Zealand feature films made in that period: Broken Barrier (1952) with Roger Mirams, Runaway (1964), and Don't Let It Get You (1966) for which he is most remembered.

He was involved with the Tangata Whenua television documentary series (1974), and in the 1980s with Pictures (1981), Among the Cinders (1983), Leave All Fair (1985) and Ngati (1987). He appeared in the spoof Forgotten Silver (1995).

He was a lecturer, research historian, and assistant film censor and was a founding member of the New Zealand Film Archive in 1981.

He was born in New Plymouth, and served in the New Zealand Army in the Pacific and Italy in World War II. He married (Jean) Cormie Douglas in 1946; and had three children who followed in his footsteps: Kathy, Pat and Rory.

He was awarded the OBE in 1990 and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal for services to the film industry.


  • Don’t let it get you: memories - documents by John O’Shea (1999, Victoria University Press, Wellington) ISBN 0-86473-356-9

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