Campion kicks off Moke Lake Thriller

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Rehearsals for an evocative TV series directed by Oscar-winning Kiwi director Jane Campion have kicked off this week in Queenstown. 

The fictional six-part TV Thriller called Top of the Lake centres around a 12-year-old girl who is five months pregnant and goes missing under mysterious circumstances. 

Rehearsals began on Monday in a woolshed in Moke Lake - Mountain Scene understands the series will move to a main paddock next to the lake on January 26 where the set will be built and filming will begin early February. 

Funded by the BBC and Sundance Channel, the series is understood to cast up to 12 Wanaka schoolkids in minor roles with one student playing a major character. 

Bigtime American actresses Holly Hunter, who won an Academy Award for her lead role in The Piano, and Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men are also understood to feature alongside other Australian and Kiwi actors. 

Sydney-based Campion started scripting the series almost two years ago and told Mountain Scene in 2010 the project is inspired by her time spent at her holiday retreat in the Rees Valley in Glenorchy. 

“It’s a detective story that’s very much influenced by the landscape around Glenorchy and explores ideas about paradise and community,” she said at the time. 

Campion rose to prominence in 1993 with her critically-acclaimed film The Piano which starred Queenstown-based actor Sam Neill, Hollywood hotshot Harvey Keitel and Hunter.