Lights, camera and lots of film action this year

By Kathryn Powley, John Weekes

Mt Roskill student Angelina Cottrell may have won a major role in a movie soon to be filmed in New Zealand. Photo / Janna Dixon
Mt Roskill student Angelina Cottrell may have won a major role in a movie soon to be filmed in New Zealand. Photo / Janna Dixon

Watch out Jolie, there's a new Angelina in town. She's 10 years old and is frontrunner for a lead role in The Weight of Elephants, a feature film about to begin production.

Angelina Cottrell has played extras before - on Shortland Street and in commercials - so a feature film is a big step.

But if all goes well she could be following in the steps of some other famous New Zealand stars who started out as youngsters on set such as Anna Paquin, Anna Hutchinson and Keisha Castle-Hughes.

The film industry is eyeing up boom times in 2012 as big productions head to New Zealand after a lean and mean recession.

Film Auckland executive manager Michael Brook said this summer he'd been issuing about 40 to 45 permits each week, noticeably more than last year, and that was just for filming in public spaces - productions also filmed on private land.

Brook said screen industries should add more than $2.1 billion to New Zealand's economy this year.

Among the major confirmed productions in New Zealand this year would be the Hobbit films in Wellington and Emperor in Auckland, starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones.

Meanwhile, Mt Roskill Primary School pupil Angelina is up for the challenge of a big role although she did admit to getting nervous.

"I'm not really scared of the camera, just the whole prospect of doing something that could be in the cinema and seen by millions of people," she said.

Filming would start in March in Southland. It's based on an Australian novel about some children who disappear.

Angelina said that at first learning lines was tricky, but it became easier over time.

"It's quite fun. Sometimes it's a bit tiring because they have to do the scene over and over again," she said.

For now, the best thing about acting was it was such fun.

Her mum Barbara Peterson said every day Angelina came back from the studio "alive and happy" and buzzing from the experience.

"She loves it."

Peterson was an extra and Angelina became involved because she thought it might be something mother and daughter could enjoy doing together.

"I like to get her to challenge herself," said Peterson, but when the script came along, it was Angelina's decision whether she pursued the role.

And now it would be up to Angelina how far she pursued her talent.

But as for whether she'd be famous one day, Angelina was clear: "I hope so."

The Weight of Elephants will be the debut feature from Dunedin-born director Daniel Borgman and is co-produced by Leanne Saunders.

It is a Danish-New Zealand venture with the majority investment coming from the New Zealand Film Commission, The Danish Film Institute and Film I Vast. Casting has been under way for six months.

- Herald on Sunday

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