Three Kiwi movies that played at the Toronto Film Festival this month have created a new sweet spot for the New Zealand film industry.
All three - The Dark Horse, What We Do in The Shadows and The Dead Lands - have enjoyed critical and commercial success and have revived the New Zealand film industry's place on the world stage.
Co-director Taika Waititi's What We Do in The Shadows and Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands have won US distribution, giving access to a huge market for arthouse films.
Matthew Metcalfe was producer for the Maori language action thriller The Dead Lands which stars James Rolleston and Lawrence Makoare.
The story is about a Maori chieftain's teenage son who must avenge his father's murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his ancestors. It was filmed in te reo which on the face of it limits its audience. Yet it has been sold for most territories.
Metcalfe believes that as an action thriller it will have a long life through selling rights for television, DVD and video on demand.
Metcalfe agrees with newcomer Tom Hern, producer of The Dark Horse, that success for a small country's film industry is hard to sustain.
Both believe the New Zealand showing at Toronto signals the possibility that the local industry may have passed a milestone.
New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson is also optimistic that a great Northern Hemisphere summer for New Zealand films has the potential to turn into a golden era.
"It's a good spot to be in and it's true there are some variable reasons why a film will work or will not work," Gibson says. "But I am optimistic that we don't have to accept that the tide is inevitably going to turn."
Veteran film-maker John Barnett - who produced Whale Rider - agrees and pinpoints private and foreign investment in all three films, which he says indicates the NZ film industry is maturing.
"In the past the Film Commission would fund projects based on something being a good idea. All three hark back to old rules, but the Film Commission now insists on outside investment to indicate that the market finds them attractive," Barnett says. "Films are standing up in their own right."
It is understood that What We Do in The Shadows did not get any Film Commission funding.
Metcalfe is one of New Zealand's most prolific film producers and knows his way around the festivals and film markets where films are bought and sold.
The producer for the critically acclaimed UK-New Zealand co-production Dean Spanley, which was also directed by Fraser, says he has been encouraged by the good reviews for The Dead Lands and, more importantly, the fact it is likely to sell theatrical rights through all territories. Metcalfe says the film stands to perform well for investors.
"Film sales are hard these days. It's a very strong film and a strong result."
In the old days the film might have been filmed in English or even dubbed, but that is no longer commercially viable.
"You could never dub because it would detract from what makes it unique and special," he says.
"What is brilliant about The Dead Lands is that it is a story that could only happen in one place in the world - New Zealand," Metcalfe says. "It's something I am really proud of."
The Dead Lands is released in New Zealand on October 30 with other countries likely to follow in the first quarter of 2015.
"I can say that investors are feeling very, very happy," he says.
"My view is that NZ industry is coming of age and reaching a tipping point with growing confidence in our storytelling and place on the world stage," Metcalfe says.