The life and times of a film pro­ducer

Ever won­dered what be­ing a movie pro­ducer would be like? Karina Abadia met pro­ducer Matthew Met­calfe to find out how he got into the busi­ness.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Film pro­ducer Matthew Met­calfe loves what he does so much that he doesn’t even con­sider it work.

‘‘I’m in­cred­i­bly lucky. I some­how fell into some­thing that pro­vides me with a won­der­ful and re­ward­ing life.

‘‘If I won Big Wed­nes­day I gen­uinely would not do any­thing dif­fer­ent.

‘‘I’d just worry about money less.’’

It took Mr Met­calfe a while to find his niche.

He was born in Christchurch but spent most of his teenage years in Can­berra.

Af­ter high school he stud­ied com­merce at the Univer­sity of Auck­land where he got in­volved in am­a­teur the­atre.

Think­ing he might like to pur­sue act­ing as a ca­reer he signed up for a part-time diploma in act­ing for film and the­atre at the School of Per­form­ing Arts, which is now part of Unitec.

At the same time he took on a job in com­merce. He stayed for a year but it didn’t work out.

He got a job in mar­ket­ing be­fore set­ting his sights on join­ing the Royal Aus­tralian Navy.

Around the same time he met the bud­ding film di­rec­tor Jesse Warn. They made the short film 9 Across to­gether.

It won best short film at the 1999 NZ Tele­vi­sion and Film Awards and Mr Met­calfe was hooked.

He de­ferred join­ing the navy for three years be­fore re­al­is­ing the movie busi­ness was where he wanted to be.

Since then the Orakei res­i­dent has gone on to make seven fea­ture films, 10 tele­fea­tures, 37 mu­sic videos, sev­eral com­mer­cials, three short films and a bunch of tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­taries and se­ries.

A lot of peo­ple think a pro­ducer just se­cures the fund­ing, Mr Met­calfe says. But the buck stops with the pro­ducer in much the same way as Steve Hansen is re­spon­si­ble for how the All Blacks per­form, he says.

‘‘The di­rec­tor is like Richie McCaw and the pro­ducer is like the coach. When the whis­tle blows and we start shoot­ing, I sit on the bleachers.

‘‘If I call ‘ time out’ it’s only to try to bring ev­ery­one back on the path we agreed upon.’’

A film that stands out as a ca­reer high­light is the docu-drama Be­yond the Edge, which was di­rected by Leanne Poo­ley and re­leased in cine­mas in Oc­to­ber.

It tells the story of Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay’s world­first as­cent of Ever­est.

‘‘Tak­ing on that kind of story one re­ally felt the pres­sure to do some­thing that re­spected the mem­ory of how New Zealan­ders feel about Sir Ed. I feel re­ally proud that we de­liv­ered some­thing that New Zealand has re­sponded well to.’’

Another of his favourite projects was the com­edy-drama Dean Span­ley.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with New Zealand di­rec­tor Toa Fraser is al­ways a plea­sure and work­ing with the likes of Peter O’Toole, Bryan Brown and Sam Neill was won­der­ful, he says.

‘‘It was an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult film to make but it was also one of the most mov­ing and pro­found ex­pe­ri­ences of my life.’’

He trav­els a lot for work but calls Orakei home, and it’s not just the prox­im­ity to the wa­ter he en­joys.

‘‘I love that Orakei is eclec­tic. You’ve got Paratai Drive at one end and Kupe St at the other. It’s a re­ally dy­namic and friendly place.’’

Al­though he’s pas­sion­ate about film-mak­ing, ev­ery now and then he won­ders what a life in the navy might have been like.

‘‘When I see a naval ship in port I think about the adventures that are to be had go­ing to sea. But I make movies which is an ad­ven­ture too.

‘‘My work has taken me to war zones, it’s taken me up moun­tains, to Antarc­tica and to an­cient houses in Eng­land. I’m a very, very for­tu­nate per­son.’’

On lo­ca­tion: Matthew Met­calfe talks to Chris Payne, cen­tre, and Mladen Ivan­cic, right, from the New Zealand Film Com­mis­sion dur­ing film­ing of Be­yond the Edge.

Big event: Peter Hil­lary, Norbu Ten­z­ing and Matthew Met­calfe at­tend the pre­miere of Be­yond the Edge at Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber.

Go to cen­traleader. to and click Lat­est Edi­tion to watch the Be­yond the Edge movie trailer.

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