Action for $1m feature film

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A $1 million feature film will start shooting near Arrowtown in March.

The ‘relationship drama’, called The Inland Road, has just received the green light from the New Zealand Film Commission.

It will be shot over six weeks from March 2.

Auckland’s Jackie van Beek worked on the screenplay during a Film Otago Southland’s writer-in-residence programme – which involved a five-day stint at Rees Valley Station, near Glenorchy, last year.

The writer, director and actress will also direct the film, which will mainly be shot at Ayrburn Farm, near Arrowtown.

Van Beek says her time at Rees Valley Station was invaluable for immersing her in the environment she was writing about.

“It’s hard to sit in Freeman’s Bay and write about farm life.

“The Rees Valley is such a different part of the world, and very inspiring.”

The main character in the film is a 15-year-old shearing gang rouser who survives a fatal car accident. She recuperates at the farm where she last worked, along with the Scottish man responsible for the crash and the five-year-old daughter of the man killed.

“There are three people from very different walks of life who are thrown together and patch together this little family, and try and get through the few weeks following the accident.”

Casting is well advanced and although contracts had yet to be signed, two of the five main roles had been filled.
Wakatipu residents will have an opportunity to get involved when casting for extras begins in February.

Preparation for the shoot is now falling into place, she says.

But as a first-time feature director it has been a steep learning curve.

“We’ve already started saying that the second time we do this will be so much easier.”

There’s been increased interest from film companies in filming in Otago and Southland.

Only last month, Dreamworks film The Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz, wrapped up filming in Dunedin and early next year screen legend Robert Redford will visit Tapanui to film the Disney movie Pete’s Dragon.

Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings, of Queenstown, says The Inland Road is exactly what the writer-in-residence programme was aimed at.

“The more things that are written here, the more chance they’ll be shot here.”

Jennings expects to arrange another residency somewhere in the region early next year.

Although The Inland Road will not directly benefit from the government’s film production incentives, introduced in April, more small-budget films were likely to gravitate to the region if the scheme fosters a ‘functioning ecosystem’, Jennings says.

“It allows us to train more people, invest in more equipment – it helps to create a critical mass.

“I’m looking forward to more activity in both large and small projects in the coming year.”

ed@scene.co.nz