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Four New Zealand Feature Films begin Production

7 April 2000

Four New Zealand Feature Films begin Production this Month

Four New Zealand feature-films begin production this month – all of them with financial assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission.

“April will be New Zealand’s most active production month for feature-films ever,” said the Associate Minister of Cultural Affairs, the Hon Judith Tizard, who announced details of the four new productions.

“The four new films represent investment from New Zealand and offshore totalling $15million.

“And when you include the continuing production of Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, and the other features which are in post-production or awaiting release, the total feature-film production commitment in this country is a really huge amount.”

The four features starting production this month are:

1. SNAKESKIN written and directed by Gillian Ashurst
Melanie Lynskey, who earned fame for her role in Heavenly Creatures opposite Kate Winslet, has returned home from Los Angeles to New Zealand to star in the lead role of this new feature.

It’s the writer/director’s first feature and is being produced by Vanessa Sheldrick of Cowgirl Productions.

Its premise: “When an American snake hits town, a little stretch of New Zealand road is in for the ride of its life”…

This road movie with a twist is now in production on location in the South Island. It is the fifth in the ScreenVisioNZ series, with the Film Commission as the major investor, and other investment coming from New Zealand On Air, TV2, and Portman Entertainment of London, who are handling international sales.

Snakeskin is executive produced by Chris Brown, Katherine Butler and Trishia Downie.

2. RAIN directed by Christine Jeffs
Internationally acclaimed commercials director Christine Jeffs is about to start shooting this first feature.

The film starts shooting on Monday (10th) in Scandretts Bay, near Warkworth.

It is based on the first novel of the same title written by Kirsty Gunn, and tells the story of one mother, one daughter and every woman.

The role of the mother is to be played by Sarah Pierse, who was also acclaimed for her role in Heavenly Creatures.

When Christine Jeffs first read the novel, she was so moved that she carried the book with her for a month. She knew from that point on that Rain would be her feature film debut.

Rain is being produced by Philippa Campbell for Rain Film Productions, with executive producer Robin Scholes and associate producer John Toon. The script is by the director and Philippa Campbell.

The major investor in the film is the New Zealand Film Commission, which will be handling international sales.

3. CROOKED EARTH directed by Sam Pillsbury
New Zealand director Sam Pillsbury has returned home from Los Angeles to shoot his third New Zealand feature, an action-adventure, for Auckland producer Robin Scholes and her Auckland production company Communicado.

Crooked Earth gives another major role for popular New Zealand star Temuera Morrison of Once Were Warriors and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? He plays a man who returns home after a long absence and faces the challenge of restoring order to an unruly town…

The film has been written by Greg McGee, Waihoroi Shortland, Gavin Strawhan, Michael Brindley and Karin Altmann.

Crooked Earth will begin shooting on April 19 on locations in the Coromandel and around Auckland.

It is to be sold internationally by the Paris based sales company Pandora.

The Film Commission is one of the major investors.

4. SHEARER’S BREAKFAST written and directed by Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds is about to shoot his third New Zealand feature.

Shearer’s Breakfast is a thriller about a young woman whose roadside diner is invaded by a host of menacing criminals.

Reynolds’ first two features were the best-selling The Ugly, which was financed and sold by the Film Commission, and the Miramax-financed Heaven.

International distributors for the new film, which starts shooting in Foxton on Wednesday (12th), will be the Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group, who have all rights except for Germany, where the film will be released by Senator, and Australia, where the film will be released by Beyond/UIP.

Shearer’s Breakfast is being produced by Sue Reynolds for her Wellington production company Midnight Films. The Film Commission provided development finance.

Majority production financing is coming from MBP, a German film finance house.


Contact: Lindsey Shelton, New Zealand Film Commission, 04-382-7686

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