Preparing for worst case scenario
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 then...watch 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? firstname.lastname@example.org
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, and...no 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.