A little idea that could grow into a movie-making future for Te Puke was unveiled by a Pukehina couple who are making a film celebrating the strength of community spirit.

Anton and Kylie DellaBarca Steel are producing The Z Nail Gang, a feel-good action comedy based on the crazy but true mining protests that took place in the Coromandel 20 years ago.

"It is a little idea that could grow into an industry here," Mr Steel said, describing how his film grew from the seed of hearing about the exploits of Coromandel protesters.

His enthusiasm was shared by Mark Boyle, managing director of Te Puke's economic development organisation Te Puke EDG. He said the production was bringing the community together and taking it forward, creating significant social and economic value.


"It is promoting Te Puke as a desirable film location."

The couple are on a shoestring budget and have departed from the conventional model for film-making. Instead they have plugged into community goodwill to deliver many of the jobs that traditionally swallow millions of dollars in big-budget productions.

It will culminate in Te Puke's Capitol Theatre rolling out the red carpet later this year for its first ever world-wide movie premier.

The working title for the film was inspired by the Z-nails used by Coromandel protesters in the 1980s to puncture the tyres of mining company vehicles.

The first update on progress towards the day when shooting of the movie can begin was outlined at a media briefing yesterday. The couple are committed to making the film although actors had yet to be found for several key roles.

Yesterday also marked the official launch of the film's fundraising "Boosted" campaign in which people can donate to help make the movie via Boosted, a website for artists that need money to bring their ideas to life. Mr Steel said they wanted to raise $10,000 through Boosted. If the funding target was not reached, all the money was returned to donors.

The other real-life twist to the film about how a small coastal community rallied against a mining company was that making the movie was uniting the district.

Mr Steel said the film's vision that there is gold in the heart of every community has neatly translated into the efforts of volunteers who have stepped forward to fill pivotal behind-the-scenes jobs.


Mr Steel, who wrote the script, unsuccessfully approached the New Zealand Film Commission five years ago for a $6 million movie in which everything would have been a faithful duplication of the 1980s when all the action was taking place in the Coromandel.

Since shifting to Pukehina four years ago and starting a family, the couple realised they could harness the community and still make the movie, but without all the 1980s trimmings.

Even the cast of professional actors will not be charging for their services.

Instead, key actors including Tanya Horo, Geoff Dolan and Paul Barrett will gamble that the film ends up making a profit so they can take their fees based on a points system.

If the film ends up making money, which few New Zealand films do, profits will be shared with community organisations.

It will be Mr Steel's first feature film in which he was sole director.

His 16-year career in film-making has included being assistant director in over 20 feature films including The Chronicles of Narnia, Yogi Bear and Bridge to Terabithia.

He aims to have the film ready for the International New Zealand Film Festival in July, with a general release a few months later.