Under the Mountain Feature Film starts shooting

4 08 2008

Under the Mountain, the motion picture adaptation of the popular, award-winning Maurice Gee novel of the same name, will begin principal photography on Monday August 11, 2008. The film’s locations around Auckland, include the iconic Rangitoto Island, a volcano in the Hauraki Gulf. The production will conclude in early October 2008.

The film will be released in New Zealand in 2009 by Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Under the Mountain is produced by Jonathan King and Matthew Grainger of Index Films Limited and Richard Fletcher of Liberty Films Limited. Chris Hampson, Chris Bailey and Trevor Haysom (In My Father’s Den) are the Executive Producers.

Jonathan King is directing Under the Mountain, from a screenplay adaptation written by himself and Matthew Grainger. Jonathan King most recently directed and wrote the hit kiwi film Black Sheep which won four international awards, grossed more than $NZ800,000 in New Zealand, $NZ2million in the United Kingdom and sold to 49 international territories.

Under the Mountain is a dark fantasy adventure story about teenage twins who battle dark forces hidden beneath Auckland’s volcanoes.

“I want to deliver a scary and exciting adventure for teenage audiences,” says Jonathan King. “The story will contrast a contemporary Auckland city setting with a fantastic subterranean world beneath.”

The creature effects will be produced by Academy Award® winner Richard Taylor’s Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Workshop was responsible for effects in the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings films and King Kong, as well as Jonathan King’s earlier Black Sheep.

Jonathan reunites with Black Sheep Director of Photography, Richard Bluck and the film features the work of Production Designers Kim Sinclair and Ralph Davies, Editor Chris Plummer (Dean Spanley) and Composer Victoria Kelly (Out of the Blue). Kelly’s original score for Under the Mountain will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the second of their sponsorships of local films.

Sam Neill (Dean Spanley) stars as the benevolent Mr. Jones and Oliver Driver (Black Sheep) will take the role of the evil Mr Wilberforce. Under the Mountain’s cast introduces two exciting young newcomers, Sophie McBride as Rachel and Tom Cameron as Theo. The 28-member Kiwi cast also includes well-known New Zealand actors Nathaniel Lees, Madelaine Sami and Matt Sunderland.

Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished novelists. In 1979, Under the Mountain (Penguin) was his first novel written and published for teenage readers. The book has sold more than 70,000 copies and has often featured in the New Zealand school curriculum.

Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

Investors include New Zealand Film Commission through Film Fund 2, New Zealand on Air, Footprint Films, 120 dB Films, Ally Media Finance, TVNZ in addition to significant international pre-sales.

International sales are being handled by Kathleen Drumm of NZ Film.


NZ Film Commission and Film Fund invest in UK/ NZ co-production

1 11 2007

The New Zealand Film Commission and the Film Fund announced today that they are investing in a co-production to be shot in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Three UK investors are providing the majority of the financing. The principal investor is Aramid Entertainment, with Lipsync Productions and Screen East’s content investment fund.

The film, titled Dean Spanley, is to be produced by Aucklander Matthew Metcalfe, whose production credits include Nemesis Game and The Ferryman, and London-based New Zealander Alan Harris, who co-produced The Ferryman. There will be two executive producers: expatriate New Zealander Finola Dwyer (Starlight Hotel, Backbeat), and David Parfitt whose production Shakespeare in Love won an Academy Award.

Dean Spanley will be the second feature for New Zealand director Toa Fraser, whose first feature No. 2 has been sold to more than 20 countries by the NZFC’s sales agency NZ Film. This feature was praised by Time Magazine as “a richly-detailed post-colonial riff, mixing the simplicity of its sentiment with … a surprisingly sophisticated cinematic eye.” No. 2 won the Audience Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Set in Edwardian England where men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Dean Spanley reveals just how deep the Englishman’s love for his dog can go. Fisk Senior has little time and less affection for his adult son but when the pair attend a lecture hosted by a cricket mad Indian Nawab they begin a strange journey that will eventually allow the old man to find his heart.

The title role will be played by Sam Neill, with Peter O’Toole and Jeremy Northam as the father and son, and Bryan Brown as the man from the Colonies.

The cinematographer will be Leon Narbey, who has photographed more than a dozen New Zealand feature films including the international hit Whale Rider. Production designer will be New Zealander Andrew McAlpine whose credits include Jane Campion’s The Piano and Roger Donaldson’s The Recruit.

The film’s editor will be Chris Plummer whose most recent credits are Black Sheep, No 2, and In My Father’s Den. The composer is to be Don McGlashan, whose music has featured in Out Of The Blue, An Angel At My Table, and Footrot Flats.

Dean Spanley has been written by Alan Sharp, a Scottish-born New Zealand resident whose credits include the 1995 British feature Rob Roy directed by Michael Caton-Jones, and the 1972 Hollywood feature Ulzana’s Raid directed by Robert Aldrich.

International sales will be handed by the NZFC’s sales agency NZ Film.