Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Film pioneers do it for love

Movie with New Zealand-based Chinese cast and crew breaks new ground but not budget

Cast and crew (from left) Xuan Li, Michael Sun, Peggy Chen, Nicole Kang, Zihao Li, Alice Li and Edison Lin  worked on The Love (left). Photo / Dean Purcell
Cast and crew (from left) Xuan Li, Michael Sun, Peggy Chen, Nicole Kang, Zihao Li, Alice Li and Edison Lin worked on The Love (left). Photo / Dean Purcell

Makers of a local Chinese movie hope it will become a hit but it may have already broken the record of being the cheapest feature-length movie production here.

The Love - a romantic comedy in Mandarin - was produced on a budget of just $30,000 and will premiere at the Rialto cinema in Newmarket next month.

The 90-minute film is also believed to be the first Mandarin-language feature film made by a fully New Zealand-based Chinese cast and crew.

Producer Nicole Kang said the production aimed to showcase "New Zealand and our local Chinese talent" to the world, and start a Chinese-language film culture to call its own.

"After Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is already famous as a filming location, but we want to show that we also have a lot of local talent among those in our migrant communities," Kang said.

"The movie reflects how Chinese love and live in this country when they are away from their homeland."

Kang said her team were negotiating with distributors to take the movie to China and other parts of Asia.

"We want to present to the whole of China how amazing New Zealand is," she said.

"We got some very beautiful pictures about Auckland ... We will show them the modernised side of New Zealand."

Kang said the greatest challenge was to work with such a low budget, which was raised through the support of local Chinese businesses and ethnic media organisations.

"The cost of hiring a camera is not cheap, and most of the time we worked 18- to 20-hour days to maximise the time we had to shoot," she said.

She was aware of funding available through the New Zealand Film Commission, but did not apply because "they required too much paperwork".

People on the set were not paid for their work, but Kang said they would be reimbursed when money started flowing from the box office.

Massey University China marketing specialist Henry Chung said there was a huge appetite for local Chinese productions here, and believed the movie could be a hit.

"Most popular on local Chinese television is the locally produced news, and the reason people watch foreign-produced Chinese movies is because there aren't any local productions," Dr Chung said.

"I think there is a hunger for films that local Chinese can identify with and relate to."

Based on the trailer of The Love on YouTube, Dr Chung said it would be obvious to Chinese speakers that the actors spoke Mandarin with a "distinct foreign accent".

"This, and the beautiful scenes of New Zealand,will not only attract the interest of overseas Chinese, but is a good advertisement for the country as a holiday or study destination," he said.

- NZ Herald

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