Thanks to our VFX compositors, visual effects are complete and I’ve just delivered the hard drives to Wellington to start colour grading.

If you missed our first video on FLICKS yesterday it’s now on our official VIDEO page.

From now on we won’t be using this blog so much but will keep updating facebook, twitter and 


We’re also on Instagram so follow @pennyblackmovie for a good time!

~ Joe


|| Post Update ||

People of the internet:

Sorry we’ve been slack with our updates but we are still busy working on the film!


VFX: If you’re a Visual Effects artist and want to help us get this thing finished please get in touch!


Introducing Mild America:

Mild America are one of the featured local artists on our soundtrack (though we aren’t using this track).

You can hear some early mix tracks from our original Score on Jeremy Mayall’s Soundcloud:


MOUSEGIRL (Aimee Newton) and LAPWING (Sasha Nixon) stop VIKING (Jeremy Mayall) from smashing.

MOUSEGIRL (Aimee Newton) and LAPWING (Sasha Nixon) stop VIKING (Jeremy Mayall) from smashing another car window.

Our 14 minute spin-off short film LAPWING has been re-connected in the Crayon online suite and will be getting colour graded by Mikee next week!

Completing LAPWING will double as our online workflow test for Penny Black.

Astra McLaren as Penny Black


Penny Black has been a collaboration of talented people working around commercial projects, so things always take a little longer for us. We are still “nearing the end” with a poster and trailer to come as soon as we confirm our release date.

Ben Woollen and Scott Granville win "Audience Choice Award" in Nevada.

Ben Woollen and Scott Granville of Chasing Time Productions win “Audience Choice Award”
for Serve and Protect.

After shooting Penny Black our DOP Ben Woollen directed a short film called Serve and Protect, which just won “Audience Award” at High Desert International Film Festival in Nevada. The short film also won the “People’s Choice Award” at Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2013. Nice work!

Music Supervisor and composer Jeremy Mayall was recently awarded the “Step Higher Award” to go to Nepal and work with Sir Edmund Hillary (or something like that).

After we wrapped shooting, our talent Anton Tennet joined the cast of Gaylene Preston’s Hope and Wire. The film premieres July 3 on TV3.

Producer Fiona Jackson is currently travelling around the country interviewing filmmakers for her PhD thesis, figuring out what we do and why we continue to do it.

I’m also starting pre-production a small film funded by the NZ Film Commission and doing Cinematography work to pay rent. Next week I’m going to Samoa and Tokelau to shoot a documentary on Climate Change for UNDP (here’s one we made in Tuvalu), but we’ll be back into final stages of Penny Black ASAP. I’ve also been directing some little things like this:

We’ll keep you up to date as soon as we have more news!

~ Joe (director).

The Edit ~ Joe


Cameron Rhodes as Mike from Ubanu Corporation

We were scheduled to start ADR this month (post-recorded dialogue), but tumbleweeds roll by the microphone as Anton Tennet is currently away in the south island acting in Gaylene Preston’s new project “Hope and Wire”. Meanwhile Astra McLaren is now playing a character on NZ’s “Best Drama” Go Girls, and Toni Garson just started University.

You may have also noticed Astra appear on The Blue Rose recently, the cinematic TV show borrowed our Red Scarlet camera for their second unit filming late last year (Their main cameras were Red Epics which have the same camera sensor). Here’s a pic of Astra from The Blue Rose website:


Busy actors give us more time to tweak the edit (and do some paid work), and plan for the next step…


“No more than 10 VFX shots” – me being optimistic at start of production

We have a list of 29 VFX shots so far, fortunately most of them are simple shots.

For our advanced difficulty shots, our experienced friends Angela (Prince of Persia) & Miquel Ubeda (Man of Steel, Xmen, Harry Potter, Da Vinci code) are helping us out.

[Don’t worry, It’s going to look good]


Maiken Bryant performs “live-action photoshop”, making an advertisement on a screen with text and graphics stuck on as printed transparencies.

This shot was supposed to be recorded with a live video feed into the screen, but due to scheduling issues Penny the Cat is added in post (this is one of our simple VFX).

“Do it in Post” always sounds like a good idea at the time but it rarely is.

I make all the “pre-vis” shots in After Effects to show experienced VFX artists how it is supposed to look (without colour grading).

These temporary comps also means I can show people the film with less confusion (“why is the screen blank?”).

Hopefully we’ll post up some video with our next update. Thanks again for everyone’s support!

Penny Black Post-Prod begins ~ Joe

Thanks to all the musicians sending us tracks for potential inclusion in the soundtrack.
I haven’t had time to reply to everyone but will get there eventually!

Here’s an update on where we’re at and how we got here…

Penny Black Lacie Hard Drive

Fish 1: “Ça va ?”, Fish 2: “Oui”.

Data management is the most boring and important part of post production, but it’s kind of fun if you tie it in with dailies (watching the footage you shot that day). So every day after filming, I logged clips into scene folders, which gave us a bit of a head start on post (Our footage folder has 7551 items so it’s a big job).

Penny Black Crew Watching Rushes. Photo by Fiona Jackson. Brands removed.

Penny Black Cast/Crew Watching Rushes in Taupo. Looks like a pretty funny movie.

We didn’t waste time with action continuity during the shoot, which meant actors could change things up and go in different directions every take which is great cos’ it doesn’t lock you into blocking from a master wide and the scene can improve while you’re filming.

Martin Scorcese agrees: “Continuity is for pussies”

We didn’t use a camera slate for principle photography, so when the audio was recorded externally, I had to sync it visually (which takes a while but we couldn’t afford to take another crew member on the road). It helps when actors clap on “camera rolling”.

Anton squashes Toni's beak with a camera slate during pickups in Pukekohe.

Anton squashes Toni’s beak with a camera slate during pickups in Pukekohe. We used take shapes instead of take numbers.


Although every scene in a script has a specific role to play in the story, I knew from the start we’d be doing a lot of improvisation to interact with things we found on the road, which is why we didn’t give actors scripts before auditions. Astra McLaren and Anton Tennet were quite exceptional with improv so I’m pretty grateful we found them. I also think most of Cameron Rhodes ranting dialogue was improvised around a few key lines we gave him.

It’s interesting to see these famous film improvisations:


Our editor (my long time friend and collaborator) Brad Davison came on board without any editing notes (just a few reference movies), and went with a “last take is probably the best” approach (which is usually always right).

Since the first assemble edit I’ve been slowly changing performance takes and working through it with him and I’m pretty excited about what we have. It’s been quite fun looking back to see what was left out of the edit like obscure movie references. Some people think it’s clever to reference a lot of movies, but really it just means you’re too lazy to be original (unless you’re putting a new spin on the content).


I like Alfred Hitchcock’s idea that “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder” so we’re aiming for 95 minutes duration – although Peter Jackson would disagree with this. Our first “assemble edit” was 126 minutes. Our “rough cut” is now under 110 mins, but we still have a few months ahead of us!


We are currently looking for:

  • Graphic Designers (for VFX advertising in the film and promotional posters)
  • A Web designer (we can do better than this and have more features to add)
  • Web Hosting
  • Foley Artist
  • VFX Artists (for one or two shots)

Please get in touch if you are keen to help. 🙂


  • We’re editing on a year-old bottom-of-the-range iMac computer (2.5Ghz, 4Gb Ram). I figure if Rian Johnson could get away with using a shitty iMac to edit Brick, so can we. (We’ll use a better computer for the online edit)
  • We’re editing in Final Cut Pro with 720P Prores Quicktimes from Red Cine-X (Brad wanted Avid but I set it up in FCP before Brad got to it)
  • Files are stored on 6Tb Lacie Thunderbolt hard drive and backed up on USB drives (yes, this was a significant part of our budget)
  • We’ve done colour grade tests with DaVinci Resolve software which are looking good.
  • Visual Effects Pre-Vis is being done in After Effects but VFX software is TBC, depending on who we get to do the online edit.
  • Final Output could still be in 4K, but most likely 2K or HD.

It’s a Wrap! (almost…) ~ Joe

We’ve filmed in Huntly, Hamilton, Taupo, Napier, Wellington, Te Aroha, Auckland, Pukekohe and lots of small towns and roads on the way. Of course the small towns are just as important as the cities, but we often didn’t know where we were. We took a “this location looks good for this scene” approach, and often took detours to find quiet roads.

<- Our location map looks a little something like this.

We’ve now wrapped our principle characters, completing our “Principle Photography” storyline with the exception of a few VFX shots, and our LAPWING superhero unit.

It’s been crazy.

It’s been dangerous.

It’s been fun.

Penny Black may be the first feature film I’ve ever directed, but it’s also the best one.

Now we concentrate on the Hamilton production of LAPWING. More info on that soon.

In the meantime, here are some interesting numbers:


Days Filming: 27 (including part days)
Weeks: 16 (2 full time)

Vehicles: 4 (3x Wicked Campers ~ Cast, Camera, Art Dept, and an RV for unit/production)

Cast: 38 (5 Principle, 8 Supporting, approximately 25 extras)
Crew: 10 (6 core crew, 4 off-set / or one-off rad people)
Road Distance: 1385Km (first 2 weeks only)

Police warnings : 1 (swinging hockey stick out window)
Speeding tickets: 1 (plus 2 for me in the week before filming)
Parking Tickets: 1 (Fiona made it as a prop, surprising we didn’t get a real one)…

Cars beeping at us: 30 (approx – most were angry locals in Hamilton and Taupo, I think the others were just teenagers excited about the Red Camera)

Near Death Experiences: 6 (Approximately – Astra says 7, Anton says less, I only endorsed 2)

Near Death Experiences caught on film: 1 (almost crashing on motorway – it looks rad)

Highest number of takes: 14 ( Moehau getting hit in the head with a tennis Ball )


Data Size: 4 Terrabytes (plus a backup hard drive the same size)
Cameras: 4 (but really just 1)~ Red Scarlet-X, Canon 5DmkII, Canon 60D, GoPro
Resolution: 4k (4096 x 2048 pixels) & HD for other cameras (hopefully won’t use them)
Aspect Ratio: 2.41
Redcode Compression: 6:1 (low light) and 8:1 up to 12:1 (Ext Day).
Shooting Ratio: 15:1 (estimated by file size which includes all wild footage).
Longest Take: 34 mins (GoPro on vehicle in front of Zebra Van on State Highway 1)


To all the kind folk who have volunteered their time and effort into making this project get this far.

“It’s not nailed down in stone yet” – Lapwing

You fullas are awesome. ~ Joe