Shooting starts on Te Puke's first film

By John Cousins

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Director of photography Chris Matthews and actors Erroll Shand (left) and Paul Ballard in a rare moment of relaxation during the first day of filming in Maketu of The Z-Nail Gang. Photo/John Borren
Director of photography Chris Matthews and actors Erroll Shand (left) and Paul Ballard in a rare moment of relaxation during the first day of filming in Maketu of The Z-Nail Gang. Photo/John Borren

Flustered hens proved the undoing of a powerful foundation scene during the first day of filming yesterday of Te Puke's first full-length movie, The Z-Nail Gang.

The call went up "quiet please" in the idyllic hippie home location at the back of Maketu, just before the main character of the movie Dave was given the dramatic news by rural postie Ned that a mining prospector was arriving in town.

Then on cue, just as complete silence was meant to descend on the set, the nearby chook house flew into pandemonium when an unknown child strayed into their egg-laying domain.

Everyone waited for the commotion to die down before the ever-patient Erroll Shand playing Dave returned to his lines and director Anton Steel resumed filming. It was just a minor distraction among lots of distractions that makes movie making in New Zealand on a small budget so interesting.

And while all extraneous noises were meant to cease at the command of "shooting", nothing could be done to quieten nature's background chorus of cicadas.

Producer Kylie DellaBarca Steel explained that rather than adding authenticity to the feel of the movie, cicadas were something they just had to put up with.

Given the first day nerves and getting everyone up to speed, Ms Steel was pleased with how it was coming together for what was the first of 20 days of filming in which 237 scenes would be shot.

It was an almost military operation involving catering, costumes and sets - amazingly all being done on a shoestring in which the acting, props and most of the filming equipment were not costing a cent.

Ms Steel said it was a perfect reflection of the theme of the feel-good movie in which a small coastal town unites when mega-mining threatens their homes and environment. Seamlessly threaded through the film are unbelievably crazy events that actually happened during the Coromandel mining protests 20 years ago.

Yesterday's filming was a mix of experienced professionals and people that had never done it before. "It is a case of sink or swim, maybe dog paddling," said Ms Steel.

A lot of importance was attached to the first day of filming because it signified starting in the way that they meant to go on. "Anton is doing a great job. Everything is as it should be," said Ms Steel.

Some of yesterday's filming centred in an actual potter's shed next to a richly wooded house owned by Leon Moore and Jill Phair. The house is currently for sale. Ms Steel said they only found the house a week before shooting began, but it turned out to be the perfect location for Dave who, as the anti-hero surfer/potter, ended up reluctantly being pushed into leading the protest. The kiln becomes a metaphor for the community coming together to fight the multi-national mining company and government.

"The quirks are what will make The Z-Nail Gang special. I kind of feel that this is what our film will be like," said Ms Steel.

Behind the glamour of the movie industry, there are a million things to remember for a feature film. Embroidery A Plenty at Papamoa came to the rescue when they were not permitted to use replicas of actual police badges and did 14 police-styled badges at short notice.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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