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Help Sought To Make Rena Documentary

Bay of Plenty filmmakers planning a documentary about the community response to the Rena disaster are asking the Bay of Plenty and wider community to get behind a crowdfunding campaign to help make the film.

Titled ‘The Rena, the reef, the residents’ the documentary will be capturing the memories and thoughts of some of the more than 8000 volunteers, local government, businesses, wildlife conservation groups and iwi.

“There are many sides to every story, and ten years on, locals each have their own stories to tell,” says producer Rosalie Liddle Crawford who together with director Anton Steel have already interviewed nearly 30 people and completed the first draft edit of the film.

“The heart of this documentary will be the recollections of these characters and also the leaders of the community at the time, the effects it had on them, both then and ongoing until the present day.”

Executive producers and Sun Media directors Claire and Brian Rogers have joined forces with Rosalie and Anton to make the documentary. Sun Media publishes online news website Sunlive and The Weekend Sun. SunLive was the first media to break the news to the world of the Rena coming aground on Astrolabe Reef.

“It was a reasonably calm day and we got there pretty quick,” says Brian. “The scene that unfolded when we arrived was indescribable, and we could tell straight away that this was going to be a major environmental problem.”

In the days and weeks that followed, Brian and his news team covered everything, from containers and oil coming ashore, to the clean-ups and community response.

The footage and thousands of photos that Sun Media have archived from 2011 are being made available for the documentary which Rosalie and Anton plan to complete in early 2022. Sun Media has also provided initial funding to launch the project.

“Thousands of locals were involved in the aftermath, with a groundswell of volunteers going out daily to help save wildlife and clean up the oil and debris. We want to invite them now to be part of helping us make this documentary,” says Rosalie.

Anton has worked as a producer, director and assistant director on more than 30 large scale drama projects.

“It has given me the invaluable opportunity to study the craft of directing from people like Taika Waititi, Garth Davis, Andrew Adamson, and Oscar nominee Morten Tylden,” says Anton. “My debut feature film as writer/director was The Z-Nail Gang, which was released nationwide in cinemas in New Zealand and has an IMDB rating of 7.8.”

Z-Nail Gang, made with 400 Te Puke volunteers won them the Supreme Winner at the 2014 Trustpower Western Bay of Plenty Community Awards with then Western Bay mayor Ross Paterson saying that it “perfected the art of rallying a community to get in behind a project that everyone felt a sense of ownership in”.

Anton has been working as the CEO of the Film Bay of Plenty regional film office for the last five years. He has more recently directed the pilot of ‘Chloe and the … ‘ written by screenwriter Alyssa Stringfellow. The pilot, which is based in Mount Maunganui was selected for NZWebfest and is in the finalist selection of the US-based Catalyst Story Institute Storieroad International program.

Anton has also directed the showreel for Film Bay of Plenty which was released this month.

Rosalie has worked as a journalist at Sun Media for the last five years writing community stories for The Weekend Sun and SunLive, as well as being involved with supporting the growth of Film Bay of Plenty. Prior to that she worked across the BOP and Lakes DHB regions developing a database of health and social services, and helped coordinate the volunteer Rise Up Tauranga community response in 2011 with Cantabrians relocating to the Bay of Plenty following the February 2011 earthquake. The local community response was acknowledged with a Trustpower Community Award in 2011.

“We’d like the community to have an opportunity to again be involved in a project that is about them,” says Rosalie. “Everyone who comes on board to help us make this documentary can have their name in the film credits.”

To complete the film, a crowdfunding campaign on will be run over the next six weeks until Christmas.

Two minute teaser videos that reflect different facets of the story will be released each week during the campaign on SunLive. The first of these teaser videos looks at the immediate reaction and effect on the community from the initial news of the grounding. Other upcoming teasers will examine other aspects such as the government response, wildlife, and the cleanup.

Funds are needed to cover further interview and b-roll footage shoots and the costs of editing.

“From donors right up to match funders, we are inviting everyone to help us make a top quality production,” says Rosalie. “This is an opportunity to help us complete this historical story about the power of our community to make change in the face of an environmental disaster.”

To support the project and have your name included in the credits please go to and click on ‘donate’.

Anyone who is interested in supporting the Rena documentary project in other ways such as sponsorship, match funding, providing footage, or has any query, is asked to email Rosalie and Anton. To do this please click here or email .

© Scoop Media

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