She got a sniff of me and she came right up to me. There I was on my own on the sea ice, with this beautiful big female polar bear, stalking me no more than 10 metres away.

 – Max Quinn on filming an anestheised polar bear, for 2002 series Ice Worlds

Max Quinn has been involved in television production for over 50 years. He cut his professional teeth as a cine cameraman for the NZBC in news, current affairs, and documentaries. He then went on to become a prolific Director of Photography on many early New Zealand TV drama productions including Hunters Gold, The Mackenzie Affair and Ngaio Marsh Theatre. He was also a visiting Lecturer in Film at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. In the 1980’s, Max moved into TV production as a director and producer of children’s programmes.

In 1987, Max fulfilled a lifelong passion for wildlife by joining TVNZ’s Natural History Unit in Dunedin. This gave him the chance to move back behind the camera and film in many of the world’s wildlife hot-spots for broadcasters such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, The Smithsonian Channel as well as TVNZ. In 1991, Max wintered over in Antarctica for 11 months to film and direct documentaries on the Emperor Penguin and winter life at New Zealand’s Scott Base. Max went on to film, direct and produce many natural history documentaries including more than 10 based around the Polar Regions as well as the Pacific, China, Australia and North and South America.

In recent years, Max has been working extensively in Mexico, the USA, Taiwan and China (including Tibet), for a series of nature documentaries for National Geographic Wild. Although officially ‘retired’, Max still works as a freelance producer, director and cameraman, specialising in polar climates, natural history, wildlife and the global environment. He has just completed filming for a major three-part wildlife series in Brazil.

Max lives with his wife in Dunedin, New Zealand, and it is a common opinion in his family that he shows no signs of slowing down.

Video Credit: TVNZ – One News (John McKenzie Reporting)


Max Quinn is A Life Member of the New Zealand Antarctic Society.

Discover more at:

Max Quinn | NZ On Screen

Max Quinn – Aged 17, Max Quinn joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee cameraman. At 25 he was filming landmark television dramas like Hunter’s Gold. In 1980 he moved into directing and producing. Since joining Dunedin’s Natural History Unit (now NHNZ) in 1987, Quinn’s many talents have helped cement his reputation as one of the most experienced polar filmmakers on the globe.

Wild at heart

Max Quinn has spent half a century telling stories, many of them gathered at the ends of the earth, Kim Dungey reports. The polar bear paces back and forth only 20m away. Alone on the Arctic sea ice, Max Quinn is being stalked by a 200kg mammal that is all teeth, claws and aggression.

Selected Screenography

2019. South America’s Weirdest
2017. The Sonoran Desert
2016. Our Big Blue Backyard
2014. The Big Freeze with Geoff Mackley
2013. Hunting the Ice Whales
2012. Awesome Pawsome – The Next Generation
2010. Expedition Antarctica
2007. China Circus
2005. Ice Pilots
2003. Hot Science in Antarctica
2002. Yukon Quest – The Spirit of the North.
2001. Ice Worlds – Life at the Edge, Polar People, Secrets of the Crystal Ball.
1996. Cameraman on Chile- Land of Extremes 1998. The Lost Whales, A Wild Moose Chase 1999. Into the Teeth of the Blizzard 2000. Director of New Millennium Sunrise in Kiribati.
1991 – 1994 The Emperors of Antarctica, The Longest Night, Ozone-Cancer of the Sky, Expedition Antarctica.
1987 – 1990. The World at your Feet – Milford Track, Fast Forward, Wild Track, Bidibidi,
1980 – 1987. Producer and Director of Children’s Programmes; including Playschool, What Now, Hows That, World of Sport, Moon Jumper (drama)
1979. Visiting Lecturer in Film, Canterbury University.
1968 – 1979. cinematographer of news, Current affairs, documentaries and drama; including Richard Pearse, Hunters Gold, The Mackenzie Affair, Ngaio Marsh Theatre.

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A Life of Extremes

USD $35.99 Tax Included

The Life and Times of a Polar Filmmaker

Due for release in ANZ November 1. Pre-order your copy now! Due for release in US/CAD/UK March 2021.

Max Quinn’s filmmaking career has taken him to the ends of the earth, from his native New Zealand to Alaska; Antarctica to the Arctic. A Life of Extremes is a personal account of his work, featuring vibrant text and stunning images that illustrate 20 years of adventures in polar climates. Learn, from behind the camera, about the natural history and wildlife of our world. Leave the tourist trail behind with this unique insight into life in the immensely beautiful, most extreme places on earth.

Specifications: 9781775594321 | Cover & Jacket | 260 x 186mm / 10.25 x 7.25in |

Discover more about Max Quinn Here