Oamaru locations for 'Mister Pip'

Locations in Oamaru and North Otago have been confirmed for Hollywood film Mister Pip, with a film crew expected to arrive some time in the second half of August.

The best-selling book by Lloyd Jones has been adapted into a film with the screenplay written by New Zealand producer Andrew Adamson.

Film representatives and location scouts visited Oamaru and North Otago just after Easter to evaluate locations but, at that stage, still had to confirm whether or not the film, with British actor Hugh Laurie in the lead role, would use the area.

Yesterday, the film's publicist, Sue May, confirmed filming would take place in North Otago, although the actual sites and specific dates still had to be finalised.

The film crew was expected to be in the area for about a week and a-half from mid-August.

The area had been chosen to represent scenes in Victorian London, she said.

In April, film representatives looked at the old freezer building on the Oamaru foreshore just north of Oamaru Creek, the historic precinct and harbour.

It is also understood they visited Campbell Park at Otekaieke and Fortification Rd at Totara.

Waitaki Development Board general manager Annabel Berry said the film company had been working directly with the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust with the board acting as liaison.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for us [North Otago]. It will showcase our heritage buildings and our landscape," she said.

Unlike other film sets, the areas being filmed were permanent.

However, Laurie will not be coming to Oamaru. Laurie, formerly of the Blackadder series and star of the television series House, will be based in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

Mister Pip tells the story of the last white man left on the strife-torn island of Bougainville during the 1990 blockade by Papua New Guinea. He reopens a school and uses the Dickens novel Great Expectations to inspire pupils, particularly a gifted 14-year-old named Matilda.

Oscar-nominated Adamson, who optioned the rights to the book, both directed the movie Shrek 2 and was co-screenwriter and the director of the first two movies in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Part of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was filmed in North Otago.

A company, Mr Pip Ltd, was incorporated in New Zealand in March, with Adamson owning 90% of the shares and Eyeworks Film and TV Drama Ltd the other 10%.