More Information


Penny Black is a Feature length film shot in New Zealand late 2012.
Penny Black (Astra McLaren), arrives in Napier with steadicam operator Moehau Hodges-Tai and DOP Ben Woollen

Penny Black (Astra McLaren) in Napier with steadicam operator Moehau Hodges-Tai and DOP Ben Woollen

Short Synopsis

Life is like a zebra van with a supermodel, a superhero and a well-meaning arsonist… it’s going to get weird.


When high-strung supermodel Penny Black embarks on a quick drive down the country to get her lucrative job back, her high-class world collides with a low-key anarchist and his zebra van, and she learns that sometimes you have to break the law to fix your life.

Director’s Notes

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and the same can be said about vandalism and activism. Over the last decade I’ve witnessed hijinks of subversive graffiti, shoplifting, dumpster diving and other forms of political protest. Penny Black is a fun road trip movie that plays out some of these scenarios, showing a different perspective of New Zealand society and environment.

These days people look-up to famous actors, models and super-heroes like they exist on some higher plane of existence; In the case of superheroes this may be true, but our film puts some of these interesting characters together in a van and brings them down to earth, then puts them in a dumpster.

The production of Penny Black Movie was as almost as crazy as the story, and it had to be. Our guerrilla approach was inspired by a fresh take on French New Wave, in that we didn’t decide exact locations before the shoot, so backgrounds were influenced by our seemingly random detours, and supporting actors were found on the road wherever we stopped. Our actors had to adapt and improvise to the changing environments, and sometimes play off non-actors in single takes, adding realism without resorting to handheld cinematography.

Penny Black is an upbeat, modern story about finding what’s important in life.

Production Notes

Days Filming: 27
Weeks Shooting: 16 (2 full time)
Vehicles: 4 (3x Wicked Campers ~ Cast, Camera, Art Dept, and an RV for unit/production)
Cast: 38 (3 Principle, 10 Supporting, approximately 25 extras)
Crew: 10 (6 core crew)
Road Trip Distance: 1385Km
Police warnings : 3 (swinging hockey stick out window of the Zebra van, lying in van with no seat, recording sound in a suspicious manner)
Speeding tickets: 1 (plus 2 for in the week before filming)
Parking Tickets: 1 (Fiona made it as a prop)
Cars honking at us: 30+ (most were angry locals)
Near Death Experiences: 6 (Approximately – Astra says 7, Anton says less, Joe endorsed 2)
Near Death Experiences caught on film: 1 (almost crashing on motorway)
Highest number of takes: 14 (Hitting Cam Op Moehau in the head with a tennis Ball)
Unique Guerilla Techniques: Camera vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road, driving with the camera operator in the trunk, driving with actors on the roof of the Zebra (playing the ukulele), driving on sidewalks, parking on train tracks, speeding, borrowing a road cone, filming without permits.

Condensed version of the blog “It’s a Wrap!” 


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