A German-led film crew films Elisabeth Lanz (far left),
playing marine biologist Julia, for a television movie, at
Victory beach at Okia Reserve on Otago Peninsula,
yesterday. Photo by Peter Mcintosh.
A German television star filming on a yellow-eyed penguin
reserve on Otago Peninsula hopes to be able to raise awareness
and funds back home for the endangered species.
Elisabeth Lanz and co-star Jorg Schuttauf are acting in Out
of Ashes, a television movie based on United States novelist
Emilie Richard's work, for German network ZDF.
The programme was being filmed in Akaroa and Dunedin,
including Victory beach at Okia Reserve and Smaills beach, by
German production company Polyphon International.
Out of Ashes will air in a Sunday-night primetime slot to
more than 7 million viewers.
The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust had given the production
company permission to film in the reserve, but with strict
guidelines to protect the penguins and their habitat.
Trust chief executive Sue Murray said no filming was allowed
near nesting sites and no real penguins were filmed.
The company had wanted a genuine penguin habitat for the
movie, which was based around a marine biologist (Lanz) who
runs away from a violent marriage to start a new life in New
Zealand, where she gets to work with yellow-eyed penguins.
She finds an injured penguin and helps save its life.
Mrs Murray said she had so far been impressed with how
environmentally conscious the film crew had been.
It had constructed its own hide and brought fake penguins as
The company was paying fees for filming in the reserve and
the money would go back into conservation efforts in the
reserve, Mrs Murray said.
It was not yet known how much the filming would raise.
Lanz, who plays zoo veterinarian Dr Mertens in a popular
German show, said while she was used to filming with animals
such as elephants and giraffes it was in a controlled zoo
environment, so it was completely different filming "in the
wild" in New Zealand.
Yesterday, the crew was filming one sand dune over from a
large male sea lion.
"It is my big adventure.
''This is real life.
Her role as Dr Mertens meant she was often asked to promote
wildlife causes and was keen to try to raise the yellow-eyed
penguin's profile back home, she said.
"I'd like to make some connections."