Principal photography has begun on The Dead Lands in locations around Auckland and the central North Island of New Zealand.
The Dead Lands stars James Rolleston, now aged 16 and last seen as the 11-year-old star of the NZ box office hit Boy (2010) and Lawrence Makoare (Die Another Day, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King). It also stars Te Kohe Tuhaka (Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business), Xavier Horan (Dean Spanley), George Henare (Once Were Warriors) and Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors). Former Kiwis and Auckland Warriors rugby league star Wairangi Koopu makes his acting debut.
Toa Fraser (Giselle, Dean Spanley, No.2) directs from a script by Glenn Standring (Perfect Creature, The Irrefutable Truth about Demons).
In the film, Hongi (Rolleston) - a Maori chieftain’s teenage son - must avenge his father's murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by the band of villains, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious "Warrior," (Makoare) a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
The action epic film will feature the Maori martial art of Mau Rakau, a unique hand-to-hand fighting style not seen on international cinema screens before.
The Dead Lands is a NZ-UK official co-production funded by the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand Film Production Fund Trust, the Maori screen funding body Te Mangai Paho, Images and Sound, the UK’s Day Tripper Films (backed by Ingenious Media) and Lip Sync Productions. It is produced by Matthew Metcalfe (Dean Spanley, Beyond The Edge) through his company General Film Corporation in association with Day Tripper Films. Lip Sync’s Norman Merry and New Zealand producer Tainui Stephens (River Queen) take on co-producer duties. Standring is also a producer on the film. Peter Hampden from Lip Sync takes on executive producer duties. International sales are handled by XYZ Films, with Australasian distribution by Transmission Films. The New Zealand broadcaster is Maori Television Service.
Other members of the creative team are: director of photography Leon Narbey (Whale Rider, The Orator, Dean Spanley), Academy Award-winning production designer Grant Major (Lord of the Rings, Mr Pip, King Kong), costume designer Barbara Darragh(Spartacus, River Queen, Bridge to Terabithia), make-up designer Davina Lamont (Lord of the Rings, Diana, Mr Pip), supervising stunt co-ordinator Steve McQuillan (Lord of the Rings, Spartacus, Warrior’s Way), editor Dan Kircher (Giselle, Everything We Loved), Te Reo Maori expert and translator Scotty Morrison, and Mau Rakau (Maori martial arts) expert Jamus Webster (co-director Maori Troilus & Cressida, NZ International Arts Festival and Globe to Globe Festival at Shakespeare’s Globe in London).
About XYZ FILMS XYZ FILMS is an LA-based film production and sales company founded in 2008 by Bolotin, Spicer and Tertzakian, with partner Todd Brown joining the company in 2009.
About GENERAL FILM CORPORATION General Film Corporation is an Auckland based production company responsible for such films as Dean Spanley, Love Birds, Giselleand Beyond The Edge. It is headed by the current SPADA independent producer of the year, Matthew Metcalfe.
About DAY TRIPPER FILMS Day Tripper Films is a UK Film Production Company backed by Ingenious Media.
Ingenious is a market-leading financial services group providing investment and advisory expertise and is the UK’s largest independent investor in the country’s creative industries. Films and television productions supported by Ingenious in the past include: Avatar, Life of Pi, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Doc Martin and Foyle’s War. Most recently, Ingenious backed The Fall (BBC 2’s most watched drama) and The Heat (starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy).
About LIP SYNC PRODUCTIONS LipSync Productions has provided investment and equity services for over 40 independent feature films and TV productions, offering financial, creative and technical support to filmmakers and producers. In its capacity as Executive Producer/Co-producer on numerous productions, LipSync’s experienced staff are able to advise on all aspects of production, from concept to completion, ensuring the client can be completely confident that every possible penny makes it into the image onscreen. LipSync’s co-productions include Starred Up, The Look Of Love, Great Expectations, Desert Dancer, Byzantium, Broken, Lay the Favorite, Shame, We Need to Talk about Kevin.
About the NEW ZEALAND FILM COMMISSION The New Zealand Film Commission funds the making of New Zealand films and invests in a wide range of capability programmes aimed at building skills within the wider screen industry and helping talented filmmakers connect offshore. It administers the Government's grant schemes and promotes and markets New Zealand films and the screen sector here and overseas. Recent productions include The Orator, Shopping, Beyond the Edge and Mt Zion.