By PHILIP CHANDLER
If you’re still reeling at last week’s news that Queenstown’s missing out on hosting visiting Rugby Championship sides, there’s some ‘reely’ good news this week.
A second series of Queenstown-based TV crime thriller One Lane Bridge has been confirmed, with a 10-week shoot starting in February.
Significantly backed again by New Zealand On Air, the $6 million shoot’s expected to provide a major shot in the arm for the resort’s economy as well as its film industry.
It’s again being produced by Queenstown-based Great Southern Television, whose part-owner Philip Smith had always wanted to set a drama in his hometown.
The first six-part series, shot late last year, aired on TVNZ 1 in April/May this year, and was the highest-rated NZ drama over the past decade.
‘‘It was really well received by the audience,’’ Smith says.
‘‘One, it played out in the perfect circumstances, in terms of the [Covid] lockdown, but at the same time, if an audience doesn’t like something, they walk away pretty fast.’’
Auckland-based director Peter Burger, who’s back after directing half the first series, says during the lockdown ‘‘the incredible scenery here was something that let people get a sense of space that was exactly what we didn’t have at that period’’.
‘‘And then the other half, it was just a bloody good whodunnit.’’
Smith says it was a hugely competitive process to secure NZ On Air funding for a five-part second series.
He believes a letter of support from mayor Jim Boult played a key role ‘‘in that he spoke for the local economy and what it meant to make film outside of the main centres’’.
Esteemed Kiwi producer, Wellington-based Lisa Chatfield, who’s newly onboard for the second series, thinks One Lane Bridge was attractive to NZ On Air as not enough outside Auckland’s being shown on the small screen.
Smith says what’s also good is playwright Pip Hall left the viewer hanging at the end of the first series.
He promises the second series will include ‘‘an event in the town that involves a lot of very fascinating, flamboyant characters’’.
There’ll also be ‘‘amazing action’’ on the Dart River Bridge, which serves as the ‘one lane bridge’.
Aside from some new locations, Smith’s also aiming to involve more locals in the production.
One Lane Bridge 2.0’s scheduled to hit the screen late next year.
In a huge coup, the first season of One Lane Bridge has been picked up by
giant United States cable TV network AMC — think Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead.
AMC starts broadcasting the series on its streaming service, Sundance, today (or Thursday, US time).
‘‘It’s a huge deal for an NZ drama,’’ Smith says.
‘‘This takes Queenstown right into the American market so people can look at it and see this place and dream about it.’’
— PHILIP CHANDLER