Feelin’ the love in Te Aroha

We had a great weekend shooting in Te Aroha despite the lack of continuity provided by the typically changeable New Zealand weather. We filmed in Chances surf shop, and started the big chase scene involving many locations and a lot of precision driving (for me – such fun!!)

The weather wasn’t exactly co-operative, that’s one of the things I really miss about filming in California. With rain about one week of the year weather continuity isn’t much of an issue there. But we filmed between the heaviest rain and figure that Hollywood folk will assume we paid out big for a water truck to wet the streets for aesthetic reasons 🙂

It was a great, but strenuous, weekend for our actors. We know we ask for a lot from them, and they tirelessly come though with great performances. We feel amazingly lucky to have found them. Thanks, guys!!

~ Fiona


Windy Wellington

Wellington was our last big stop on the road trip. I changed our accommodation at the last minute and we were totally psyched when we pulled up at Jeff and Chrissie’s cottage in Granada North. Hanging out on the deck we all gazed over the rolling hills and had the same thought. We HAVE to get this in the movie. So one day was spent filming on the small road leading up to the powerstation behind Woodburn Cottage.

With the least amount of locations organised in Wellington I was set to hit the ground running, knocking on doors in the city trying to find someone who would let us film on their building. Absolutely amazingly, the first person we met in Wellington shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Sure, I can get you onto pretty much any building’, and proceed to do so.

We picked up a couple of featured extras in Wellington, including a Spanish guitarist, German, but there was one scene that we didn’t think we could expect a stranger to perform, so Joe and I reluctantly agreed to play the roles of “Jerks”. It’s payback time for the actors… Anton was so psyched about the opportunity to douce us both in coffee that he completely forgot to say his lines 😀

People often ask the differences between filming in New Zealand and California and honestly, we couldn’t do this in Hollywood. It would be a logistical nightmare, we’d need a crew 4 times as big, a budget 10 times the size, and it would all take at least twice as long to film. We’ve found New Zealanders to be so welcoming and interested in the filmmaking process that making Penny Black has been a logistical breeze. Sure, we don’t make union wages, but I can’t imagine anything more fun than making movies in New Zealand with our awesome cast and crew.

We were all sad to be leaving Wellington and heading back north. But, this is only the halfway point in our shooting schedule so still 12 days left. Whoop!!

~ Fiona

Three Nights in Napier!

I think the thing I love most about filming outside big cities is how relaxed and helpful everyone is towards filmmakers.  As soon as we arrived in Napier we looked around for a location to film our beach scene and decided the beach at the end of the Bay View Snapper Holiday Park where we were staying would be perfect. I hesitantly approached the owners to ask if we could light a fire on the beach, ready with reassurances of how careful we’d be, water and fire extinguishers on hand, etc., and was greeted with a encouraging “Yes! That’s a GREAT idea! Go for it!!” They even offered to supply us with firewood.

As Toni (playing the role of Alex) was away for the weekend rehearsing a show in Te Aroha we had a pretty relaxing time in Napier. With this in mind, a few of us decided to go swimming at 3am, and within about 30 seconds we were all skittled by an enormous wave, soaked from head to foot, and freezing. Such fun 🙂 I, however, was the only one who managed to get knocked down yet again the following day while trying to collect water to put out the fire. This time I was fully clothed, so I figure I get bonus stupidity points for that effort 😀

~ Fiona



Up bright and early we cruised down to the lake and were greeted by a blanket of fog. And drizzle. Seriously? There’s stunning mountains on the other side of that water?? Undeterred the crew shot a few fun scenes on the shoreline, while I strode off pseudo-confidently to find a café for us to shoot in.

The first café seemed perfect. The exact layout we had in mind, and red chairs, fitting the colour pallet we’d chosen for the film. Within two minutes of walking into Taste  I not only had the perfect location, but the barista had also agreed to play the role of… ‘Barista’ in that scene. It’s always a bit of a concern casting ‘off the street’, particularly when they have dialogue, but Laura completely nailed it, every take.

Our cottage at the All Seasons Holiday Park was amazing. So comfortable it made me start panicking that I’d set the bar too high and the rest of our accommodation would be disappointing by comparison (Fortunately – this didn’t turn out to be the case). With the computer set up everyone gathered around to watch dailies and be impressed by the performances and the quality of the footage we’d captured.

Never fails to get us psyched for the next day 🙂 ~Fiona

Shooting in Hamilton

As much as we’d rather shoot in warm sun, the rain in Hamilton worked well with the tone of the first part of the movie. We filmed  in and around the dumpsters behind the Silverdale shops (classy location, I know), at the GAS station on Tramway road, at an intersection on Ruakura Road, and in my neighbours apple tree.

We planned some of the locations carefully, and others we decided we’d chose as they appeared with the idea of allowing the actors and crew to interact with the environment as we travel through it. This worked out better than we could ever have hoped. The idea is based on a 50’s French film movement, and the idea that film-making should be an organic process and if we find somewhere amazing on the way, we can decide to stop and shoot there. When we realised the original intersection location would be too busy when we were ready to shoot that scene we thought of other ideas and found the perfect location that wouldn’t involve us holding up traffic.

This approach worked time and time again during the road trip, if only we had as much luck with the temperature!


The epic Road Trip film shoot – Huntly

It’s been an AMAZING two weeks, I don’t even know where to start!

Our first few days were spent in and around Huntly. We built an awesome billboard and burned it down. Crashed a car.  And got into the swing of filming actors while driving.

Though it was bitterly cold, spirits were high, and we were all excited to be finally shooting the movie! Little did we know that the real cold was yet to come…