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Monday, 16 March 2015


to the first quarter edition of our international newsletter.


This year, for the first time, the New Zealand Film Commission will have a stand at the Beijing Film Market. Attending will be our CEO Dave Gibson, Head of International Relations Chris Payne and Head of Marketing Jasmin McSweeney. The market is held from 17–20 April in the China Millennium Monument and you will find us on Level B1 of the Exhibition Hall. We'll have great kiwi style coffee!


If you are not going to be at the Beijing Film Festival, we look forward to seeing you in Cannes. We will be in our usual offices on the 1st floor, Building I’Imperatrice, 44 la Croisette. 


To make a time to meet with us in Beijing or Cannes, please email marketing@nzfilm.co.nz


International News

Indie comedy What We Do In The Shadows recently released in the U.S. by Unison in association with Paladin. The Taika Waititi/Jemaine Clement directed film, opened initially in  LA and New York and recorded the highest per-screen average in the US to date, for 2015. The film is now on 26 screens in the US and the US box office currently sits at $1.39 million.

New Line Cinema has picked up the remake rights of Housebound, a horror comedy that has earned praise from Lord of the Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson. New Zealander Gerard Johnstone, who wrote and directed the movie, will produce the remake but will hand over the directing reins.

Magnet Releasing have scheduled a Spring release in the US for The Dead Lands. Directed by Toa Fraser, the international trailer is one of the most viewed trailers on iTunes here. The film will open in France, the UK and Turkey on 29 May and in Germany on 1 April.

Following a string of successful festival screenings including BFI, Toronto and Palm Springs, Koch have scheduled The Dark Horse to release in the U.K. on 3 April. 

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Award News

UK based New Zealander Anthony McCarten picked up the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Theory of Everything, which was also named the Best British Film at the Awards.

Anthony produced alongside fellow New Zealander Tim Bevan with Eric Fellner and Lisa Bruce.

A biographical dramatisation on the early life of Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything received ten BAFTA and five Oscar nominations.

Another New Zealander based in the UK, James Lucas, picked up the Oscar for Best Live Action Short for The Phone Call. Starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, James co-wrote the film with director Mat Kirkby.

James has a slate of feature film projects in development and is exploring opprtunities in and with New Zealand.

(images: top- Anthony McCarten, bottom - Josh Lucas (R) & Mat Kirkby (L))

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Festival News

Deathgasm had its world premiere in the Midnighter’s section of the 2015 South By Southwest Festival on 14 March. Reviews from this screening have been overwhelmingly positive.

Written and directed by Jason Lei Howden, Deathgasm is the story of two teenage metal fans who unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity, known as the Blind One, when they delve into black magic as a way to escape their mundane lives.  Produced by Andrew Beattie, Sarah Howden and Morgan Leigh Stewart, and Executive Produced by Ant Timpson, MPI Media are handling world sales and will distribute the film in the US and Canada.

Canada/New Zealand co-production.Turbo Kid premiered at Sundance, generating a lot of buzz and being named one of the top films to screen at the US festival. Written and directed by Canada’s Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell, and produced by Ant Timpson and Tim Riley for New Zealand and Benoit Beaulieu and Anne-Marie Gélinas for Canada,  Turbo Kid is a BMX-powered, blood-splattered love story set in a post-apocalyptic future. The film follows the epic journey of an orphaned outcast reluctant to be a hero in the wasteland of an alternate future.

Turbo Kid  will screen in the  Midnighter's section of SXSW on 18 March.

Also at the Sundance Film Festival was Slow West, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic.  A UK/New Zealand co-production, Slow West was written and directed by John Maclean and produced for New Zealand by Rachel Gardner for See-Saw Films and for the UK by DMC Film. Filmed mainly on location in the MacKenzie country of the South Island of New Zealand, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi Smit-McPhee.   Sundance was the fiilm's World Premiere.

The Dark Horse received the Audience Award and the Youth Jury Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Written and directed by James Napier Robertson, produced by Tom Hern and starring Cliff Curtis, Variety said the film was "A stunning yet subtle Cliff Curtis performance, an inspirational true story and a lively directorial touch make for a winning combination."

And finally, documentary film Hip Hop-eration about an aged troupe of hip-hop dancers preparing for the Las Vegas Hip Hop world competition, recently won the Audience Award at the Santa Barbara Intenrational Film festival. Directed by Bryn Evans, the film will open the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival in Greece.

(Images: top - bottom The Dark Horse, Slow West, Turbo Kid, Deathgasm)

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New Faces

Screen Incentives Manager, Naomi Wallwork, recently announced her decision to leave the NZFC for extended travel overseas and we are pleased to advise that Catherine Bates will take over her role as the newly titled Head of Incentives.  

Catherine began her career at Tourism New Zealand and whilst there was involved with the development of the New Zealand destination brand and global 100% Pure New Zealand campaign. Highlights of her career include development of the New Zealand Story and leadership of the NZ Inc Hobbit leverage programme, in particular the NZ Inc relationship with Wingnut Films and Warner Bros Los Angeles.

Our Head of International Relations, Chris Payne, will work with Catherine assisting international productions applying for the New Zealand Screen Production Grant’s additional 5% uplift whilst continuing his work of connecting pepole and seeking out international opportunities.

Joining Catherine and Chris is experienced Line Producer Chris Tyson. Chris has over twenty years experience in the New Zealand film industry and she will primarily manage the application process for the grants including answering enquiries, receiving and reviewing applications and convening meetings to consider applications.

We are also pleased to announce Dale Corlett's appointment as Head of Talent Development. A New Zealander living in the UK for the past 16 years, Dale was CEO/Creative Director of GMAC Film in Scotland since 2004 and was responsible for identifying high quality emerging talent and developing film industry careers. Dale will commence the role on 20 April.

(images: Catherine Bates and Chris Payne)

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Greenlit Roger Donaldson Projects

We recently confirmed production investment in two Roger Donalson (Cocktail, Dante's PeakThe World's Fastest Indian) helmed productions: 

McLaren, a feature length documentary produced by Matthew Metcalf (Beyond The Edge, The Dead Lands, Six Days) and Fraser Brown tells the story of Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand icon who came from nowhere to take on the elite world of Formula 1 and won.

The Guinea Pig Club, is a dramatic feature about pioneering New Zealand plastic surgeon Archie McIndoe, who developed groundbreaking new treatment methods for burns victims during WWII. Tim Sanders (Lord Of The Rings) is producing. The script is written by Mike Riddell.

McLaren is currently in production and The Guinea Pig Club producer, Tim Sanders, is currently in the UK raising additional financing.

(Image: Roger Donaldson)


Vista and NZFC Announce Film Marketing Programme

Vista Group (VGL) recently announced the launch of the Vista Foundation and its inaugural programme, the ‘Vista Film Marketing Programme’, in partnership with the NZFC. The programme, currently scheduled to begin in July 2015, will assist filmmakers to learn the business of film marketing and audience engagement.

Roger Donaldson is  Patron of the Foundation, which aims to support the ongoing development and growth of the New Zealand film industry.

Industry champion, John Barnett, is advising the NZFC on the content of the workshops which will involve presentations and panel discussions from Kiwis already  working in the international marketplace.

More information can be found on our website here.

(Image: L-R: John Barnett, Murray Holdaway (CEO Vista Group), Dave Gibson (CEO NZFC))
Photograph courtesey of Sharlene Ferguson at Focal Point Photos

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TUGG adds New Zealand

Tugg, a new initiative that puts cinema programming into the hands of audiences, has recently added two New Zealand titles to it catalogue.

Gardening With Soul, a documentary directed by Jess Feast and produced by Vicky Pope, released in the US through Tugg in February.

The Dove Foundation said Gardening With Soul is a "funny and moving portrait". Read the review in full here

NZ/Aus distributors Transmission are currently using Tugg in the Australian release of The Dead Lands.

For more information on Tugg visit their website.


International Productions in New Zealand

Power Rangers

New Zealand is taking a leading role in the new season of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise, Power Rangers Dino Charge and was featured prominently in an episode aired in the U.S.recently.

Followed by millions of fans in more than 150 countries, the new season of the iconic Power Rangers series introduced Auckland actor James Davies as one of the five core Rangers.

This top-rated and long-running kids’ live-action television franchise has been produced in Auckland for more than 10 years.

Saban's Power Rangers Dino Charge is being created by Executive Producer Judd 'Chip' Lynn and New Zealand Producer Sally Campbell.

Power Rangers Dino Charge has signed an MOU with the NZFC to provide Significant Economic Benefits in order to access the 5% uplift as part of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. 

Pete's Dragon

Principal Photography on the Walt Disney Pictures film Pete’s Dragon commenced on 9 February 2015 and the film will be released in 2016.

A reimagining of the 1977 Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon will blend live action and CGI to tell the story of the special bond between an orphaned boy, Pete, and his best friend, Elliott, who just happens to be a dragon.

The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oona Laurence and New Zealander Karl Urban. Newcomer Oakes Fegley will star as Pete.

Pete’s Dragon is directed by David Lowery and produced by Jim Whitaker,with Barrie Osborne serving as executive producer. The screenplay is by Lowery and Toby Halbrooks. WETA Digital will utilise the latest in digital effects to bring the dragon, Elliott, to life.

The production is based in Wellington’s Stone Street Studios with filming taking place in locations around New Zealand including Wellington, the Rotorua area and the lower South Island.

Pete’s Dragon has signed an MOU with the NZFC to provide Significant Economic Benefits in order to access the 5% uplift as part of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant..


A US fantasy television series based on books by top-selling American author Terry Brooks began shooting in West Auckland last month.

Shannara is based at Auckland City Council owned Auckland Film Studios in Henderson. The production is backed by MTV Networks and Sonar Entertainment.

Starring Poppy Drayton, Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero, Daniel MacPherson, Manu Bennett and John Rhys-Davies, the first two episodes will be directed by Jonathan Liebesman. 


Principal photography begins in Wellington this week on Legendary Pictures' horror-comedy film, Krampus. Offering a twisted alternative to traditional Christmas classics, Krampus will feature visual effects from Weta Digital and creature effects from Weta Workshop.

Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Alison Tolman, David Koecher, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania Owena and Krista Stadler, the film is directed by Michael Dougherty who also wrote the script with co-writers Zach Shields and Todd Casey.  The film is produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia and Dougherty and executive produced by Danny Stillman.

NZ Screen Production Grant

Through the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, International Productions are eligible for a cash grant of 20% of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE) with a 5% Uplift available for a smaller number of productions that can demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand. You will find more information here.

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Feel free to send any questions, feedback or comments regarding this newsletter info@nzfilm.co.nz.

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