Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pavlova Western on Close Up, TV One

Exciting! The Western was on Close up (TV One, NZ) last night!
It's the first publicity for the film and it is an overwhelming start.
Two and a bit years since our last post here - post-production has been epic.
Nearing the end with one week of Final Sound Mix to go and then finishing off the VFX and Grade.
Things are moving rapidly now and it feels like the train has officially left the station - so we will be updating when things happen on the adventure. First of which would be - the search for the perfect title!

Monday, 21 April 2008

In the can!!

We wrapped principal photography at 8.10pm on Monday 14 April. One day later than scheduled. Not bad for our first feature!
It's taken one week to recover to the point of being able to type again. 3 solid days of hard labour to strike the sets and pack out of the studio.
It's an amazing feeling having it all in the can! Very surreal too. What an incredible ride it's been! Now onto post-production!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Last quarter to go...

Things are going amazingly well - lots of hard work + sleep deprivation = stunning film! Been really challenging trying to find time to update the blog. So many stories to tell and so little time. Still have over a week of filming left and some massive shoots to go. We have a studio space for our interior shoots but we are at the mercy of Wellington's weather for the next while...

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Wellington Rocks!

After a brief panic on returning to Wellington due to the mountain of work still ahead - we have found ourselves back on track thanks to the amazing people of Wellington city. Local filmmaking people are really getting in behind us - supplying invaluable advice from years of experience on big films, and offering up supplies and their time. We have chosen to shoot some scenes inside a warehouse - this will help out with rain dates in Welly. But this confronts us with the mammoth task of building a few sets from scratch. We're under the thumb with time as we start filming on Sunday 23 March!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Halfway there...

3 weeks shooting completed and 3 more to go! The South Island shoot was spectacular! Managed to get almost everything we needed and then some. The weather, the people - everything worked beautifully! Spent the day in the editing suite today and can say that it's looking amazing. So excited!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

On a Dark Desert Highway

The plan was this:
On the last day of filming in the South Island, we were to go back to Fruitlands for some pick up shots and then after a brief lunch in Alexandra drive to Christchurch. Get there at about 8pm to sit down to a fantastic meal prepared by Sarah (Second Production Manager) and Brett (Accountant) - eat it, drink beer and celebrate our efforts of our incredible South Island filming adventure.

This is how it played out:
At Fruitlands the wind kicked in and we had do wrap the pick ups early - thankfully managed to get all but three shots.
Went to Alexandra and after a longer than expected lunch delay we left around 4:45pm in a convoy.
On the road things were going well - then, just outside Tekapo we came across Mark (Animal Trainer) and his horse truck stopped on the side of the road. He was out of diesel.
With the help of Steve Pudsney (local fireman, paramedic, horseman). We had to bleed the engine to to get it to run again, but the pump that lifts the cab up giving us access to the engine of the truck wasn't working, so we all had to pitch in and lift the front cab and propped it up with a fence post supplied by a nearby farmer.

About this time we got a call from Matt (DOP) who was behind us driving the Big Horn with the trailer on the back - it had over heated 200 meters from the top of Lindis Pass and they only had a 500ml Pump bottle of water available! After a long wait on the side of a hill Matt and the Big Horn arrived at our scene. A brief check of the engine and we decided to send them on their way with Hellen (Production Manager) as she was sick and needed rest. So the horse truck and the red van with most of the remaining crew were left on the side of the highway.

After a long and dedicated effort by all (especially Putz) trying to bleed the truck we called a local mechanic. It was just after 11pm that the we got the truck going again but then the cab that we were propping up with the fence post would not shut!

Got a call from the Big Horn - the back tyre had blown out on a blind corner and they were looking for the padlock key for the spare tyre - luckily the keys had been left in the car with it!

Back at the truck the mechanic was asking for oil for the cab hydraulics - we only had baby oil from the make up kit which he said will probably do it. And it did. One bottle was enough to get the cab back down, but then the engine conked out again and after much swearing all round we had just enough baby oil to get the cab up to rebleed the engine.
Another call from the Big Horn who were now having trouble with the jack and the weight of the trailer. Realising our state and that we were nowhere close to them - they started enlisting the help of passing traffic.

We got the truck started again but needed more baby oil to get the cab down. Luckily Zoe (Art Director) had some packed away in the back of the truck and after a tough search through all the stuff and horses we got about half a bottle's worth but it was enough to get the cab down. On the road again things were going well - went past a small town that was supposed to have a 24hour gas station but we couldn't find it - so continued on to Geraldine. It was then at about 2am that we got the call from Mark - the truck had run out of diesel again! They were about 15kms short of Geraldine , 200meters down the road from an abandoned tourist bus. We needed gas containers but even though it was a Saturday night Geraldine was a ghost town. We figured our best bet was to drive the 15kms to Mark to get our unit water containers and drive back to Geraldine to fill them up. Then return to attempt the bleeding of the engine ourselves.

Luckily Cohen (Actor) who was driving at the time remembered passing the abandoned bus so we powered on back to Mark. Got there, got the containers and raced back to Geraldine. Got a call from Matt in the Big Horn saying they had fixed the tyre and that they were almost in Christchurch!

Filled the containers up and headed back to Mark with 60 litres of diesel. It took a long time to put in 40 litres so we stopped there knowing it would get him to Geraldine for a refill at the 24hr station. At this stage our biggest concern was that we had no more baby oil and that we had to lift the cab up and down on the half bottle from before. And going by the first bottle we went through that wasn't nearly enough. Somehow we got the cab up but the bleed wasn't running as smoothly as we would have liked. At about that time we heard a female cry for help from the darkness! This was really strange as we had not seen a car or other human for some time, The cry turned into a "Help us!" shriek which was coming from the abandoned bus. Some of us started running towards the bus and again heard "Help me!" - so Cohen yelled back "What's wrong?". After a long moment the voice replied "We're out of diesel!".

So we stopped and rested hands on knees on the dark highway in the middle of nowhere musing about the irony. Justin (Sound) managed to bleed the truck to get it going and also get the cab down on the remaining baby oil we had. We then sent the truck on its way and turned our attention to the tourist bus operator and her one Swedish tourist who had been held up on the side on the road since 10pm - it was now almost 3am! We put in our lucky spare 20 litres of diesel and waited to discover if we needed to bleed her engine too. After a longer than needed tense moment the bus started and with applause she headed straight for Geraldine for a refill.

Entering Christchurch at about 5am we came across a biting scene. A boy racer had wrapped his car around a tree - there was a dead youth lying in the grass wrapped in white and the fire department were getting the roof off to free another kid. There was a sense of luck that came over the red van - sober gladness that diesel was the only thing lost for us that night.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Nerves of steel

Mark Kinaston-Smith is one of the best animal trainers in the world. And that is not an overstatement by any means! He worked on all of the Lord of the Rings films and has done numerous other horsey endeavours over the years. As luck would have it he is a spectacular person to work with as well and has an undying sense of humour & wit on hand at all times. This project has managed to throw a few new challenges his way - one of them was having Red cross a 4ft wide pedestrian bridge over a raging river to Goldfields! They both managed beautifully and it seems like the most stressed out one of the two was definitely Mark!

The legendary Goldfields

The Goldfields Mining Centre just outside of Cromwell has been truly amazing! Thanks to Hamish, Brett, Dianna, Jenny and the rest of the Goldfields crew we have been able to film a massive set/location shoot with the only thing to contend with being the weather! They have been fantastic to us and extremely helpful. It's a unique place that's well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Last few days in the South Island

5 days left in the South Island and we have beautiful weather! Pretty frantic pumping through all the shots - but we're doing it! Off to the Kingston Flyer this morning and doing a massive shoot with a very tight turnaround. Pick up shots yesterday went really well and we're bang on schedule.

Sunday, 2 March 2008


Going to the 4 Dunedin guys for juggling their schedules and helping us out BIG time by staying around till tomorrow for this rain to clear!

More Rain!

Got rained off today. Bummer! Luckily some of our extended cast - Tao, Norman, Alex and Ben have been gracious enough to stay an extra day because of the rain. Forecast is meant to clear tomorrow so hopefully won't get too behind - we did well the day before so have a little bit of room to breathe. Not much though!

Rain while filming

Right. So this Western has hit rain for the first time. The weather has been extremely good to us and a bit of a spit yesterday didn't affect things too much. Annoying - but thankfully we were in a location where there were exterior and interior scenes scheduled so we could juggle it.

We're reasonably on track with our schedule and only require a few pick ups that we should be able to get during the next week while we're still here in the South Island.


Went to Tao for stepping up to a tough acting challenge and really pulled it off.

Friday, 29 February 2008


A day off for the crew! Play of the day went to Sarah for remembering to return the wood to the generous building site.

PLAY OF THE DAY Thurs 28 Feb

Went to the two lead actors - Cohen & Inge - for performing really well in a full on drama scene.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Difficult day

Right. So one of the biggest drama scenes of the film is in the can. Done & dusted. It was full on, but we think it worked extremely well.


Martin our Austrian lighter is very handy with a machete...The Machetenator took it out today for his great work ethic and sprinting up hills at random...


To Toa Waaka for his inspiring performance and telling it like it is. Big thanks to our spiritual advisor!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Challenging location filming

There's been a few spots that have been quite remote, hard to access, harsh conditions...yet absolutely stunning and very cowboy.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Beautiful Bendigo

Wellington cops a lot of slack for wind - which seems a little unfair after our experiences here in Central Otago! There is some serious wind action going on on the plains & hills around here. Makes filming just that little bit more challenging/exciting!

Cowboy feeding time

Feeding the cast & crew has been a big job. Filming has been finishing at dusk most days which is around 9.30pm so that by the time the cowboy crew get home for dinner it is late and they are ready for a feast! Making sure we have enough meat, fruit and vege to feed the hoards has been a challenge - but thanks to some great support from local butchers and farmers at our various locations we have been able to keep everyone well fed & watered. Loving the South Island hospitality and support!


Went to Noel for getting back on his bucking horse! And a huge thanks to our Posse riding doubles for looking fantastic!

Cast member profile #1 - Red

The true star of the show. Without him we would probably still be trying to shoot the first 3 shots of the film. He has managed to completely throw the old 'never work with kids or animals' adage out of the window. Even on the days when we had 6 other horses on set he still continued to perform beautifully. For his fans who have requested more info: he's a liver chestnut quarter horse station-bred sport horse. What a dude!

Sunday, 24 February 2008


Went to Bex for her consistent and yummy poached eggs for brunch! Not an easy feat when you have to do about 35 eggs!

Saturday, 23 February 2008


As well as preparing costumes we have spent part of our day off trying to source some extra building materials for a set we need to construct tomorrow. Unfortunately Placemakers here in Cromwell was closed and we've discovered that Mitre10 doesn't sell wood. In true indie filmmaking tradition Sarah (our fill-in Production Manager)wandered onto a building site and asked whether they have any spare four-by-twos. Thanks to the lovely folks at NZ Engineering Supplies in Cromwell - we now have our wood. Thanks guys!

Looks like we'll be sending Sarah out this week to try and find some more generous souls around Cromwell! The crew keeps on insisting we need a vineyard behind the production...

PLAY OF THE DAY catch ups

Thursday 21 Feb's PLAY OF THE DAY went to Red (the horse) for being absolutely phenomenally patient during a very challenging shoot of being saddled repeatedly on camera.

Friday 22 Feb's PLAY OF THE DAY went to Inge for organising a fantastic house for us all to stay in in Cromwell! Settling into our new house with internet finally!!!

Catch up

Been very busy – posts have been a little light, so here’s a catch up on what‘s been going on.

Day 1 - Arriving in Tekapo we went to our first location at Sawdon Station. An epic location, but harder to get to than first thought. We got there in the end and the trailer is holding up well in the rugged terrain. Costume and Art department are looking fantastic. The first shots were amazing and after 2 years of planning it was surreal to watch it coming to life.

The second day we got the Posse riding doubles and it was breathtaking! Hard to believe we are in New Zealand – sure doesn’t look it! Looking really cowboy. The actors did their first drama scene and it went great (except for the face stab by Cohen).

Day three onto our next location at Maryburn station - one of Mike’s favourite locations. The crane (our self-designed and built one) went well and we got some spectacular shots. Cohen the male lead managed to throw up after chewing some real chewing tobacco for a few takes. His cowboyness was called into question but after a brief power chuck into the dust - got back up on his horse and carried on. His manliness restored. Unfortunately after a great shoot we discovered that Inge the lead actress had ended up in a wrong dress and we will have to go back and re shoot the wide shots.

Day four the river shoot and let's just say that Cohen managed to get more sunburn than necessary! And interestingly enough according to Justin our Soundie - Tekapo has no wildlife sounds after dark at all!

We started a PLAY OF THE DAY which went to Zoe and Rosy for making a fake chicken in 10 minutes that looked fantastic!
The weather has been completely consistant and absolute magic. Loving it!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

In the valley

First drama shots captured. Images on the monitor look fantastic. Three days of blue skies.

Rabbit holes everywhere. One stunt double fell off his horse, but the rodeo/cage fighter posse rider (talented man that he is) expertly held it together.

Our lead actor accidentally stabbed himself in the face with a knife. So far only bandaids have been used from the medic kit.

Monday, 18 February 2008

First day of shooting!

Wow. It's finally real. What a day - what a crew! Off to a fantastic start. Managed to get all the scheduled shots plus some bonus sunset riding shots. Starting with a half day shoot was a brilliant idea as it gave everyone the chance to find their feet and iron out any hiccups. Red's a born movie star. He stole the day.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

On our way

Made it to Christchurch! Just overnighting here then next stop Tekapo. A few hiccups along the way today - but thankfully nothing too major. Red didn't like the idea of getting on the ferry at first which was probably brought on by having the A-team theme song blared as we were loading the trucks! The team of people we have are better than we could've imagined - great vibe!! Getting an early night tonight for some more travel and the first couple of shots tomorrow.

Cafe L'affare rocks!

What an amazing town this is! In the true spirit of Wellywood Paul & crew at Cafe L'affare have come on board and sponsored us with more caffeine and fantastic quality coffee than we could have ever dreamed of! And to top it off - they're giving us the proper equipment to brew it to perfection. Legendary.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

We now have sound, makeup and continuity sorted - Important as we leave in 2 days. Rebecca Rowe (our 1st AD) is outstanding on many levels - one of those being sourcing crew at the last minute.

The butcher in Geraldine has offered to open his shop on a Sunday just for us so we can get our meat down there to feed the crew. Important as Tekapo has no butcher. Jayne - head of our catering - read a great review on the net about his meat. On explaining this to the kind butcher his baffled response was: "You're joking!.. and I thought the internet was a waste of time."

We are having a BBQ tonight at our place with all available crew to do a send off. One of our cast Toa Waaka will be giving us a Maori blessing to send us on our way.

The Bad

The Department of Conservation has just informed us after months of dealing with them that they don't actually allow horses on DOC land - an important piece of missing information as we are aiming to shoot a western on DOC land. But there is hopefully a way around this and Hellen Robinson our Production manager is on the case.

The muster down in Tekapo has been brought forward so all our riding doubles have pulled out! Good times. Mark Kinaston-Smith - our uber experienced & connected Animal Wrangler has thankfully been able to sort this curve ball in less than 24 hours!

The Ugly

Our leading man Cohen Holloway just had his fake teeth fitted for the film - ugly yet beautiful.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

living the dream

Instead of buying a house we've decided to make a movie.

We're going on an epic adventure - shooting a Western in New Zealand. 3 weeks in the South Island and 3 weeks in the North Island. After 2 years of planning we're a week out and completely committed. Full steam ahead - we're all in!! This is it. Bankrupt or boom town.

The aim is to update this blog as often as we can between the madness.

We have a script, crew of 18 and a horse called Red!