Archive for October, 2009

Meet the Director!

There’s an old adage that the best position for the writer is to be sleeping with the director. I’ve taken it to heart. Our new and fabulous director is none other than Rosemary Riddell. We’ve put together the old team which was so successful with the international play Jerusalem, Jerusalem and took out the Sandcastle Award for Best Short Film at the Moondance Festival in Hollywood, for our short film Cake Tin.

Rosemary is very much an actors’ director, with a keen eye for drama and what works on screen. And she brings to this project an intimate knowledge of the story, gleaned from more than ten years of living with its various incarnations. So she was ideally qualified to step into the breach when Gillies Mackinnon needed to pull out.
We’re giving her highly experienced people around her to supplement her skills for her first feature, including the veteran Director of Photography Tom Burstyn.
Rosemary is a formidable director, much loved by all those she has worked with over the years. As an actor herself, she understands the importance of quality performances. And in her other life, she’s a judge – so it doesn’t pay to mess with her!

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Doing it Hard

When the NZ Film Commission declined our application for production funding in August, it created a crisis of huge proportions. This was followed shortly afterwards by the news that Screen West Midlands would be unable to process their proposed contribution in time for shooting. Then, with the funding evaporating, our UK director Gillies Mackinnon pulled out. Any sensible producers would have closed the production down.

We came very close to it. On one dark day in September it seemed that the only option was to call it quits. But, as has happened so many times in the tangled history of this project, we found a way through. We made a commitment to make the film using private equity. That meant the complete reinvention of the production from the ground up. A low budget film might look at a budget of NZ$1m. We moved into micro budget territory of just over $300k.
It has meant lots of negotiation with talent and crew. It has meant the producers who have invested time and money over seven years taking no money out of the budget. Likewise the writer and director. It has meant finding work arounds and compromises in all areas. It has meant making a positive out of the negatives, by adopting a philosophy which our DOP Tom Burstyn calls ‘Frugal Filmmaking’.
It has also meant the surfacing of huge amounts of goodwill and generosity by the core people, because they believe in this as a film which needs to be made. This is turning out to be a collaboration of artists who love cinema, and are keen not just to get the film completed, but to make a great film which will showcase the best of New Zealand talent and win audiences throughout the world.
So – we’re doing it hard, but we’re doing it honest!

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A Place to Stay

We’ve got 5 people arriving from the UK, one from Canada, a confused Irishman from the States, and several from out of town to work on the film – all of whom need accommodation in the central Auckland area. Through the generosity of supporters we’ve managed to find beds for a fair number of them. But we still need more.

If anyone can offer a bed, or even better a furnished flat or house sit in or around the Ponsonby area, please let us know by emailing here. The shoot dates are 16 November to 25 December, so it’s a while for house guests. But we promise they’ll behave themselves, and they’ll get fed on set.
If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone… please chase it up. If anyone has questions, they could ring Mike at 021 2952963.
Meanwhile, the madness continues…

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We’ve assembled a brilliant cast for the shoot. Above you’ll see some of the faces of the main players. Thanks to all the actors for their passion, commitment and belief they’re bringing to making this a great film.

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Moon Buggy

Meet the Moon Buggy… our slightly used people transporter which will be used for a production vehicle. Cheaper to buy than to lease for a couple of months, and we can sell it again at the end of the shoot to put some money back in the budget.

These are the sort of work arounds that we’re needing to achieve on a daily basis in order to make the budget stretch. Vehicles are a real need and expense. Speaking of which, if anyone has a small truck which would be available for loan, can you let us know?
Another need is a camper van or caravan (preferably one with a toilet) which we could borrow for 5 weeks before Christmas – to be used as a changing room/toilet facility during our outdoor shoots. We promise to take very good care!
If you can help with any of this, please write to us here. Many thanks!

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Good People

It takes a village to raise a movie!

We are making this film with a shoot budget of just NZ$300k.
Many would think it not possible, but the key to it is having a great team of people who believe in it and are prepared to bring their talents to the project. It’s a difficult task to be offering so little reward and yet asking so much from the people who must give their very best if the film is to be successful.
One of the ways we are doing this is by the writer, producers, and director taking no money out of the production budget up front. Instead we’re spending those valuable dollars on an excellent cast and crew. Given the producers have spent seven years developing the project at their own expense, this is a way of their expression of faith and confidence in it.
We’re trying to assemble a team of the very best people, all of them talented and all of them believing that cinema can be more than an industry churning out a product. But as everyone knows, in the film world “no one knows anything”.

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Last Call

We’re deeply grateful for the private equity investors who are making this film possible. I guess art has always had its patrons, but the high costs of producing films raise the stakes to a new level. We’re doing something to address this by doing the shoot in innovative ways, but without our investors we’d be down the tubes.

We’ve begun to circulate the investment agreement to our donors, and sometime soon we’ll need to draw a line under that. So if anyone is sitting on the fence, trying to decide whether to get on board or not, please make the choice now. You can simply email your interest here. We’re accepting investments as small as $1,000, and remember there are significant tax breaks, a 10% premium and a share of profits.
Of course there are other ways to contribute. You can simply send donations of any size, and through our charitable trust, Te Tutua Trust, receive a tax receipt for your contribution. Or donate through the link to Givealittle on this blogsite.
It’s a movie about the triumph of the little people against the odds, and it’s in the small ways that we will make it a great story. Thanks for your help.

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