Pre­par­ing for worst case sce­nario

Matamata Chronicle - - Film -

Re­cently, we’ve had flood­ing. From our garage in Te Aroha to in-laws down­stairs stu­dio in Avondale, Auck­land, and lots of places in be­tween. These floods are de­scribed as a one in 100 year floods, a loop­hole for in­surance com­pa­nies not to cough up.

Cy­cling around Te Aroha at the time, as the murky Wai­hou rose un­der the bridge, res­i­dents from The Land­ing were seem­ingly evac­u­at­ing, as the waters lapped their back­yard slash river­bank. Or were they? No, one res­i­dent was just pack­ing the boat for a trip, not pulling a Noah. An­other res­i­dent said she wasn’t wor­ried as it’s a one in 500 year event that would flood their en­clave. The thing is, I won­dered, which is the one year out of the 500? Do you go from the first recorded in­stance, add 500 years ex­actly and out that year?! When is that... one? And when they started keep­ing records of these one in what­ever year floods, was there man made cli­mate change and global warm­ing? claireash­

I was on a Toy­ota ad, not only my very first com­mer­cial, but a bloody big one. Big­ger than Ben Hur. It was set to the catchy song, Ev­ery­day Peo­ple. I had scouted the Wairarapa area, Lake Ferry, and Ngawi, for those long strik­ing roads, and iconic New Zealand land­scapes. We were shoot­ing on a farm, then were due to re­lo­cate to shoot a beach scene. I trav­elled ahead to set up the lo­ca­tion. I opened the ac­cess gate, drove through, then braked abruptly. The des­ig­nated film­ing area on the beach was gone, swal­lowed by wa­ter.

Insert ex­ple­tive. There was a crew hot on my heels, cell phone sig­nal. I hoofed it back to set to break the news. The pro­duc­tion team took the news ok. It was post-lunch, and the cater­ers must have done a good job, find­ing us, for a start, and keep­ing the food hot. I used the op­por­tu­nity to scout down the coast and dis­cov­ered the Wharekauhau fish­ing vil­lage.

Later, in the pub, a lo­cal in­formed us this ‘phe­nom­e­non’ hap­pens maybe a cou­ple of times a year. Tidal fac­tors, or the moon or some­thing. I at­trib­uted it to Sod’s law, of­ten ap­pli­ca­ble on shoots (and no doubt farm­ing) as Mur­phy was surely an op­ti­mist! The next day I was in Grey­town, try­ing to con­tact home­own­ers at work to get per­mis­sion to shoot right there and then in their front yards. Up till now, I’d worked on dra­mas, where you scout, view the pho­tos, choose the favourites, then recce. This was a new kind of crazy. Still, I should have been pre­pared, as the South African first as­sis­tant direc­tor’s pep talk at the pre pro­duc­tion meet­ing was suc­cinct: ‘‘I hope you’re pre­pared peo­ple - this is gonna be a s**t fight’’. I al­ways had to pre­pare for the worst case sce­nario with film shoots, and per­haps ap­ply­ing Sod’s law will see us able to cope with these one in what­ever year events.

‘‘ The des­ig­nated film­ing area on the beach was gone, swal­lowed by wa­ter.’’

Waikato write and film-maker Claire Ash­ton grew up in Hamil­ton and now lives in Te Aroha.


A screen-grab from a video of the Toy­ota com­mer­cial us­ing the song, Ev­ery­day Peo­ple, from 1998.

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