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).

Behind the Music: Kids Instruments

Four musicians who have performed with NZSO, a punk rock drummer (who teaches music) and one of NZ’s favourite children’s entertainers improvising with kid’s instruments:

The soundtrack is largely “rock” based, including genres such as funk, jazz, punk rock (in 7/8 time), hip hop, and things I’ve never heard before.

The band watch the film one scene at a time, so they score without knowing what's coming next.

From Left: Jeremy Mayall, Chris Lam Sam, Nick Tipping, Nick Granville, Jeremy Badger. Photo by Dan Inglis

Musicians watched one scene at a time, improvising without knowing what’s coming in the following scene.

Music Supervisor Jeremy Mayall conducting. Photo by Dan Inglis

Instruments included piano accordion, peruvian flute, turntables, banana shaker and the keytar.

Plotting the score

Plotting the score, musicians take cues from the projected film. Photo by Dan Inglis

Instruments were recorded simultaneously on 24 separate audio tracks (10 drum tracks, 1 percussion, 2 bass, 3 guitars, 8 keys/electronics).

Penny Black Movie Band

The band live scoring to the projected film with Adam Page (Sax).

The original score will be complimented with tracks from bands and artists that contacted us, which we’ll confirm very soon.

You can see more photos in our Behind the Soundtrack Facebook gallery.

~ Joe

Introducing the band ~ Joe

We’ve been talking about this soundtrack for 3 years now.

We’re featuring some talented bands and recording an original score next week.

Our musical reference ranges from 50’s french pop to 90’s post-hardcore, with a bit of improvisational jazz and the infamous 70’s cartoon-funk LAPWING soundtrack.

Example: LAPWING theme composed by Jeremy Mayall and Chris Lam Sam:

Our musical references have a rough edge, seeming unpolished or unfinished, so we came to the conclusion that the best way to capture this feeling is to get amazing musicians to improvise to a live projection of the film.

Music Supervisor Jeremy Mayall has casually assembled some of NZ’s best musical talents for this soundtrack-recording-improv session to collaboratively compose under the banner of SCORELOCKS COLLECTIVE:.

We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to get from this, but it’s pretty exciting…

Scorelocks Collective

JEREMY MAYALL – Music Supervisor / Composer

Jeremy Mayall is a Composer/Producer/Performer/Multi-instrumentalist from Hamilton, NZ.

Currently in the final stages of work towards a PhD in Music Composition, Jeremy is exploring the possibilities of cross-genre hybrid music composition. He has received a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship for all postgraduate study, was awarded ‘Creative/Performing Arts Person of the Year’ for 2005 and 2011 at the University Blues Awards, and was the inaugural winner of the ‘Sir Edmund Hillary Medal’. Next year he moves to Dunedin to take up the Mozart Fellowship – a prestigious composer-in-residence position at Otago University.

At the age of 20 he wrote his first symphony – Symphony No.1 for orchestra and turntables(which has been performed by the APO, NZSO, WYO, DYO and NZSSSO), the first orchestral symphony to feature turntablism as a part of its composition. He regularly works as a film composer and sound designer, and has scored numerous films in a range of styles. Most of Jeremy’s recent film work has been in collaboration with The Scorelocks Collective.

As a performer/DJ/musician, Jeremy has toured throughout NZ, USA, and several Pacific Islands. He has performed with a number of jazz/funk/blues bands as well as being a featured performer with the Auckland Philharmonia and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He also performs regularly with various New Zealand Chamber Musicians, including violist Adam Maha, soprano Julia Booth and world expert on Taonga Puoro Richard Nunns.

~ Via

The Band

Chris Lam Sam – Keys / Composer

Chris Lam Sam is an award-winning ‘collaborative’ film composer and accomplished children’s entertainer based in the Waikato. When he’s not on stage dressed in bright colours and entertaining young people, you will find him happily tucked away in the studio with friends attempting to write film cues.

His long-time friendship and musical collaboration with fellow composer, Jeremy Mayall, was eventually named ‘The Scorelocks Collective’ – a label under which the two large and hairy friends continue to write music together. These ‘Scorelocks’ (aka ‘Wizards of Music’) have written multiple scores for ‘indie’ films – both shorts and feature length. 

In 2008, Chris won the ‘What Now Children’s Music Video of the Year’ award as a member of children’s musical super-group,The Funky Monkeys. In 2012 he won the ‘LOOP Best Original Song’ award for ‘Oh Nicky’ at the V48 Hour Film Festival’s National Grand Final.

While he hasn’t won as many awards as his fellow Scorelock, Chris definitely has the most hair out of the two which, as all clever people agree, makes him far more talented and superior in rank.

Chris Lam Sam on IMDB

Nick Granville – Guitar / Composer

Wellington based professional jazz musician Nick Granville possesses a huge palette of diverse sounds and styles. He is capable of playing everything from jazz to rock/pop, funk, blues and much more and has performed around the world.

As the guitarist on the hit television programme ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Nick worked with Delta Goodrem, Ronan Keating, Paul Potts and Hayley Westenra. As the guitarist with the Wellington Jazz Orchestra he has worked with Patti Austin, Steve Smith, Kurt Elling, Eric Marienthal and Bob Shepherd. As a freelance musician he has worked with Bill Cunliffe, Diesel, Chris DeBurgh, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Frankie Stevens, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra, to name but a few.

Touring NZ regularly and performing approximately 150 gigs / concerts per year, Nick keeps a busy schedule. In addition to performing regularly with his own groups, he works extensively as a first call session musician; Nick can be heard daily on the television programmes ‘One News’ and ‘Breakfast’ and on the long running show ‘Fair Go’.

In 2012 Nick travelled to the USA to record at the legendary Capitol recording studios with the Wellington Jazz Orchestra. Capitol is where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat ‘King’ Cole and many other legendary artists recorded and is quite possibly the most famous studio in the world. In addition to this recording he played concerts at the top Los Angeles jazz clubs Vitellos and Typhoon and at the Las Vegas jazz club The E String.

Nick has prominently led his own groups, and released the album ‘Wishful Thinking’ on ODE records in Dec 2008 to critical acclaim. His group Triptych Trio, co-founded with Ben Wilcock and Ian Parker, released their successful CD ‘Round the Bend’ in 2010. In 2013 Nick is due to release two CD’s: one called ‘Refractions’ and later called ‘Home’. ‘Refractions’ is a quartet CD featuring Auckland jazz greats Roger Manins, Oli Holland and Ron Samsom. ‘Home’ features Wellington’s best musicians including NZSO concert-master Donald Armstrong, drummer Lance Philip and Bassist Nick Tipping.

As a passionate educator Nick has taught at the New Zealand School of Music as the jazz guitar tutor, taught big band rhythm sections classes, sight-reading and fusion classes and developed the guitar curriculum. He has taught at Whitireia School of music, Goodtime Music Academy, The NZ High School Jazz Workshops, CPIT, the NZ Gypsy Jazz workshops, the Southern Jam and at jazz festivals including Tauranga, Nelson, Queenstown and more. In addition to all this Nick is regularly a guest speaker/tutor at workshops, festivals and music institutions around New Zealand.

Nick proudly endorses Elixir Strings, Cusack Pedals and Lollar pickups, and products from the good folks at Music-works.

~ Via

Nick Tipping – Bass / Composer

Active as a professional jazz / contemporary bass player, Nick Tipping has performed on stages and in clubs around his native Wellington, New Zealand, Italy, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Seoul. In 2004, after returning from two years of study at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nick was invited to join the faculty at the Massey University Conservatorium, which later became the New Zealand School of Music. From 2007 to 2011 Nick was Head of Jazz at the New Zealand School of Music.
His performing experience encompasses the history of jazz, especially bop, fusion and contemporary jazz. Nick played bass on all 5 seasons of Dancing with the Stars, and has toured with the NZSO, and the Wellington Jazz Orchestra. Nick is a contributor to Radio New Zealand, having presented several programmes in the Pressing On, Critic’s Chair and The Art of Jazz series.
Nick is currently a PhD student at the NZSM, examining the Wellington jazz scene and its relationship to the jazz being made around the world. He teaches part-time at the University of Auckland, and is a regular performer in and around Wellington.

~ Via

Jeremy Badger – Drums / Composer

Percussion Ninja. Drummer of The Latest Fallout. I couldn’t find a bio, but here he is playing Miles Davis:

~ if Jazz isn’t your thing, try his Slipknot cover

Ben Mannell – Engineer/ Tech Guru

Ben is our go-to sound engineer in Hamilton. Recently recorded live Richard O’Brien show at Founders Theatre (for a video directed by our producer Fiona Jackson).

Hit him up at

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