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.
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. co.nz to and click Latest Edition to watch the Beyond the Edge movie trailer.