Kiwi film industry continues to boom
12 Nov 2008
New Zealand's stunning landscapes and huge pool of highly skilled film professionals have earned the country more than $NZ915 million in the last five years.
International film-makers attracted by the NZ Government's screen production incentive programme have also helped employ nearly 8000 crew and more than a 1000 Kiwi actors.
Film New Zealand's Annual Report shows the capital city Wellington - otherwise known as Wellywood - reaping most of the rewards (54% of benefits), while Auckland is not far behind on 36% of the total take. The South Island has taken 6% of the $915 million, with another 1% spread through the central North Island.
The report shows that the money flowed widely into the community through services employed, such as accommodation, food and beverage, construction materials, office equipment rentals and transport.
Key benefits of shooting in New Zealand as identified by productions completing exit surveys are:
- availability of highly skilled screen production industry professionals (both crew and cast)
- sophisticated production and post-production infrastructure
- positive financial considerations including - the Kiwi dollar exchange rate, the Large Budget Screen Production grant incentive, absence of fringe costs for labour, and competitive production costs.
Eight international productions have been shooting in New Zealand during 2008.
Films in production include:
New Zealand's capital city Wellington will again be the centre of the movie-making universe next year with a new movie about Jesus Christ.
Kingdom Come swings into production in early 2009 with filming taking place in Peter Jackson's studios. The film, directed by Dean Wright, a visual effects supervisor on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, will also be shot in rural South Island locations - Falstone in Central Otago, Oamaru and Motueka.
Lake Benmore, near Falstone, will represent the Sea of Galilee. Some scenes may also be shot in Hawke's Bay. The big-budget film is being made by South Vineyard, whose Japan-based directors Paul and Joshua Broman and Naoyuki Baba are also executive producers for the movie.
The Truth About Men
Filming of a bitter-sweet romantic comedy feature has started in Wellington. The Truth About Men has been written by political cartoonist and playwright Tom Scott, who is producing the film with Angela Littlejohn and Mark Overett.
Already pre-sold to Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium and Indonesia, the feature is the third to be directed by internationally acclaimed Australian-based New Zealander Paul Middleditch.
Danielle Cormack is the leading New Zealander in the cast. She plays Pam, the wife of the disillusioned and clumsy Simon, played by Australian Joel Edgerton. British actress Rhona Mitra is the musician who tempts him, and German Thomas Kretschmann (who was in the cast of King Kong) is the musician's cheating husband.
The feature will also be shooting in Berlin and is scheduled for release in late 2009.
Under the Mountain
Jonathan King's sci-fi adventure based on NZ author Maurice Gee's Under The Mountain has just finished filming and is now in post-production. Weta Workshop is handling creature effects. Richard Taylor and his team last worked with Jonathan King on Black Sheep, which was sold by NZ Film to more than 70 countries.
Sam Neill heads the cast, with newcomers Sophie McBride and Tom Cameron playing teenage twins who battle alien forces hidden beneath Auckland's volcanoes. Oliver Driver plays the dark and frightening Mr Wilberforce.
Disney is the NZ distributor of the new film, which has also been pre-sold for UK release by Contender. John Sloss of Cinetic Media is handling sales to North America. NZ Film represents the film for the rest of the world.
Show of Hands
Anthony McCarten's second feature Show of Hands has just been released in New Zealand. Shot in Taranaki and starring Taranaki-born Melanie Lynskey, it tells a story of desperation, determination and love - involving a gruelling endurance contest. It's based around a real life competition where to win a car contestants had to keep their hands on it.
Eight-times Academy Award nominee Peter O'Toole stars alongside New Zealander Sam Neill in the feature film Dean Spanley, which opens in the UK in December. Dean Spanley has already had several showings at film festivals and received a standing ovation at the 2008 Toronto film festival - the first time a NZ film has had a gala screening in Toronto.
Dean Spanley is a whimsical tale of fathers, sons, and dogs, and stars O'Toole alongside other big names including Jeremy Northam and Bryan Brown. The film is set in Victorian England, and was shot both in the UK and NZ.
Apron Strings also appeared at the 2008 Toronto film festival. Set in suburban New Zealand Apron Strings is a parallel story of two families and two cultures: Pakeha NZ and Indian. Directed by Sima Urale, the film was shot in the multi-cultural southern suburbs of Auckland. The cast is headed by Bollywood star Laila Rouass who also appeared in Footballers Wives.
Wizards First Rule
Now in production out in West Auckland, the Wizards First Rule series has been sold to Disney and is filming for 33 weeks. Produced by Rob Tappert (Lucy Lawless' husband) it is a cross between Zena / Hercules and LOTR.
In Post Production:
With a 2009 release date, and a $46 million budget, Laundry Warrior is said to be a biggie. Filmed mainly in West Auckland, it stars Korea's answer to Tom Cruise - Don-Kun Jang, with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth (ex-Superman) and Tony Cox.
Niki Caro's Vintner's Luck, from the book by NZ writer Elizabeth Knox and starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, is in post-production with likely release in February 2009. It is shot during harvest time in a West Auckland vineyard, and in France.
The Dam Busters / Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson's remake of The Dam Busters is in post-production, along with Lovely Bones starring Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg. Due for release late 2009.
Based on a true story, Stephen Sinclair's feature about a Russian couple who sail to New Zealand in a lifeboat is also in post production.
Mark of the Lion
This movie based on the life of double VC winner Charles Upham remains on hold.
Film Industry Organisations and Resources
These topics may also be of interest to you