Up creek ‘With­out a Pad­dle’

Matamata Chronicle - - Film -

Oprah was in Queen­stown.

It was ap­pro­pri­ate re­ally, be­ing the queen of the talk shows. Hol­ly­wood stars are treated like roy­alty and many have filmed in New Zealand over the years. Reese Wither­spoon (co-star­ring in the film AWrin­kle in Time with Oprah) posted on In­sta­gram won­der­ing what to pack for New Zealand.

When I worked on the movie, With­out A Pad­dle ( star­ring Seth Green, Burt Reynolds and Bart the Bear), the pro­duc­tion team ar­rived prob­a­bly packed for the trop­i­cal isles of the Pa­cific, rather than icy Antarc­tica lurk­ing nearby.

They ar­rived bring­ing a nasty Amer­i­can flu, which laid out half the pre-pro­duc­tion crew, in­clud­ing my­self, for days. The Amer­i­cans then all had to go out and buy the oblig­a­tory puffa jacket, stan­dard at­tire for filmies.

Gen­er­ously, they gave core crew a sleeve­less puffa on wrap, no doubt think­ing of our sum­mers. I think Bart was okay, hav­ing fur in­su­la­tion and all. He was the first bear in the coun­try since a cir­cus bear some years ear­lier and there was a lot of rules and reg­u­la­tions.

I was partly re­spon­si­ble for where Bart lived, apart from his trailer of course. The for­est lo­ca­tion was found in Wainuiomata and so that’s where Bart camped out. A del­i­cately claireash­ton7@gmail.com

‘‘A del­i­cately worded memo cir­cu­lated that women "on their moons" shouldn't go near Bart.’’

worded memo cir­cu­lated that women ‘‘on their moons’’ shouldn’t go near Bart. Yes, well, good ad­vice!

By the time I came to to job, the Amer­i­cans had been through two lo­ca­tion scouts al­ready. And no, they had not been fed to Bart, ap­par­ently they had been a bit too vo­cal.

How would I fare then, and how would the shoot go? The phrase ‘‘up the creek’’ was of course bandied around, be­ing the first half of the say­ing. My ini­tial ex­pe­ri­ence was of a ve­neer of super nice­ness, fol­lowed by lots of ‘‘you’re wel­comes’’.

On a recce though (short for re­con­nais­sance) af­ter I asked the last man out to please shut the van doors, I was told, ‘‘no that’s your job’’. They changed their tune later when I would leave them stand­ing out­side the van in the rain. And boy was there rain, be­ing one of those super rainy springs and on a break be­fore film­ing, some of the Amer­i­cans bug­gered off to afore­said Pa­cific is­lands.

My boss was home­sick (for Queen­stown) and kept try­ing to quit, and I be­came his go-be­tween. If there was a prob­lem, like, no we can not close off The Ter­race be­fore 9am on a week­day, I had to send a memo, and then I would be sum­moned to the as­sis­tant direc­tor’s of­fice. They did not re­ally like to take no for an an­swer, and yes there were times we were def­i­nitely up that prover­bial creek!

Tax in­cen­tives, the some­times low New Zealand dol­lar, in­creased qual­ity of stu­dio fa­cil­i­ties in Auck­land, and be­ing what we are, means that the like­li­hood of over­seas pro­duc­tions film­ing here is on the in­crease. Add to that our tiny record of ter­ror­ist at­tacks per­haps, is New Zealand set to be­come Zel­ly­wood.

Claire Ash­ton grew up in Hamil­ton and is based in Te Aroha. She can be con­tacted on Claireash­ton7@gmail.com.


With­out a Pad­dle was filmed in New Zealand and starred Dax Shep­herd, Seth Green and Matthew Lil­lard.

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