Film title lives up to name for cast, crew
Brrr. Cold. To the bones. Yes I was sure even my bones were cold. You get the message. I have never been colder in my life than standing in one of the main streets in Eltham, Taranaki in August, at 2am on the set of the New Zealand film, Predicament.
The main concern of course is how to keep actors warm on set, never mind the poor bloody crew. So in between takes, wardrobe assistants would rush in with hot water bottles and blankets for actors, and escort them to chairs set up in front of heaters in little tents.
Even shooting a scene the lucky actors - Jemaine Clement, Heath Franklin (aka ‘Chopper’), Hayden Frost, were all packed into a cosy old red telephone box.
It was in this scene that Jemaine (fulfilling an old promise to the director to star in the film) broke out the voice that would define the character of the Spook. It was nasal and monotone, and cracked everyone up - it is definitely those light-hearted moments you need on set in the dead cold of an Eltham winter’s night.
For myself, I lived in thermals and my long black and grey coat, from Winnipeg, Canada, which had the Eltham locals convinced I was the producer due to the stylishness and warmth of aforesaid coat. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ah, no that would be the locations scout and manager - producers mainly get to sit in a warm office! On pre-production morning recces, (short for reconnaissance) we would stand in the street and try to discuss the shoot but would get body then brain freeze, so I learnt to schedule visits after lunch, when hopefully the day had warmed up. Despite the cold, local history in Eltham was quite fascinating. A local Chinese farmer, Chew Chong, practically created the dairy co-operative system, and also the ‘‘pound of butter’’ until undermined by a local businessman, Wilkinson.
‘‘I lived in thermals and my long black and grey coat, from Winnipeg, Canada, which had the Eltham locals convinced I was the producer.’’
Wilkinson was also responsible for the first asphalt street in New Zealand, one of the very roads we were filming on. So when Chew Chong found himself in a bit of a ‘‘predicament’’ he turned to a traditional Chinese food source - mushrooms and fungi for export, which were prolific in the region due to tree felling and the climate. Predicament, or what a predicament was indeed the catch phrase whenever something went wrong on the shoot - like when the greensman drove a waratah through the gas main of our key house location - resulting in me ordering pizzas for the family for dinner that night!
Actually all-in-all we were kind of lucky, so that even Mount Taranaki appeared the day we needed to shoot it, or was it the savvy first assistant director who has a hotline (or is that coldline?) to the weatherman who sorted it? Keep warm and carry on! -Waikato writer and film-maker Claire Ashton grew up in Hamilton and now lives in Te Aroha.
Characters from the movies Predicament, Cedric (Hayden Frost), Mervyn (Heath Franklin) and Spook (Jemaine Clement).