From left: Patrick Sherratt, Daniel Betty, Gilly Lawrence, Eastern Screen Alliance

No longer does living in the regions need to stymie your dreams of appearing on the silver screen. Action April sees Eastern Screen Alliance, together with Te Awa Creatives, creating a database of local actors as part of their ongoing efforts to kick start the Hawke’s Bay film industry. 

It’s the latest initiative in their overall mission to build an infrastructure to support what they hope will put Hawke’s Bay on the cinematographic map. They’ve been busying themselves on the ground, providing local knowledge to Auckland based company, Number 8, who are close to winding up the red tape and laying the foundations of Parkhill Studios on the Cape Coast. Within a season, dreams could translate to bricks and mortar. Then the pressure will be on to prove that we can support and sustain national and international film productions. 

Until now Eastern Screen Alliance have focused their lens on work behind the camera, making connections with local creatives and makers, as well as producing tools to promote the region. They’ve spent the last eighteen months running a script writing course, educating and advocating and networking to spawn regionally produced features, in addition to big productions from overseas. In the next few weeks they will be shooting a promotional reel to showcase the variety of locations available in the region – a virtual fly through to lure scouts from around the globe.

Already some are taking the bite, and enquiries have been reeling in, indicating the potential to be a much-needed lucrative boost for the local economy. ESA board member and local actor, educator and advocate, Daniel Betty, projects a feature film invests between $50,000,000 and $300,000,000 with 67% invested locally. That could be a $6,000,000 weekly boon for Hawke’s Bay.

For Betty, developing a diverse poole of actors to service this burgeoning industry is vital. Feature films need actors en masse, of all ages, appearances and abilities. “We’re being incredibly open here,” he says. He’s observed that while training and aptitude are an advantage for many roles, in our increasingly media saturated world naturalism in front of the camera is to many second nature. Particularly for ‘extra’ work, sometimes tenacity and a good attitude is more beneficial than skill. Film sets start early, finish late and can have interminable periods of waiting around in between. The best way to find out if the job is for you is to learn on the job. 

But more than just a roll call of those to call on, Betty envisions his database as a stepping stone towards developing the creative community. “It’s an amazing opportunity for the local community and infrastructure to create and grow,” he says. He’s being mentored in his task by actor and creative consultant to the stars, Miranda Harcourt, who, together with esteemed national actors, Peter Elliot and Peter Feeney, will be engaged to run workshops and develop skills. He’s casting a broad net to cover all bases, but professional actors will also be catered to. For these he sees a gap in the local market – there are many stage opportunities in Hawke’s Bay but less so film, until now.

So if you dream of seeing yourself immortalised on screen why not get behind the scenes and sign up to be part of the magic.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.