NZ Film Production Fund's first filmArts, Culture and Heritage
Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark today welcomed the announcement that the first film produced out of the Film Production Fund will be Whale Rider, based on the novel by acclaimed New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera.
The film will be made by Auckland-based South Pacific Pictures and directed by Niki Caro (Memory and Desire), who has also adapted the novel for the screen. It will be shot on location in Gisborne later this year.
The New Zealand Film Production Fund was established last year to support the production of films of New Zealand on a larger scale. The government contributed $22 million toward the establishment of the Fund, which is administered by an independent trust.
To qualify for funding from the New Zealand Film Production Fund, projects must be feature films with significant New Zealand content and be made by New Zealand film-makers who have already made at least one feature. In addition to these criteria, there are a number of operating guidelines including one to the effect that at least 40 per cent of the budget should come from off-shore sources.
Helen Clark said the announcement was exciting news for the film industry.
"It is important, both culturally and for the economy, that we have a strong and vibrant local film industry. Whale Rider is an exciting venture and demonstrates that the public and private sectors can work together.
"Our aim is to build a sustainable industry which fosters opportunities for local writers, actors and production staff. Ventures like Whale Rider will produce not only the intrinsic cultural benefits from a thriving film industry, but also the tangible economic benefits in terms of jobs."
Whale Rider has a budget of around NZ$10 million, over half of which has come from Europe, from co-producer ApolloMedia in Germany and pre-sales to France and Italy. The New Zealand Film Commission, NZ on Air and Filmstiftung NRW are also investors in the film.