Actress sets up Dunedin base

Former Wellington film-makers Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader, of Torchlight Films, are singing Dunedin's praises as a film-friendly city after making the move south. Photo: Linda Robertson
Former Wellington film-makers Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader, of Torchlight Films, are singing Dunedin's praises as a film-friendly city after making the move south. Photo: Linda Robertson
A screen production company headed by actress Rebecca Gibney is among two firms drawn to Dunedin by what they say is the industry's bright future here.

The Otago Daily Times last month reported three companies within the industry were either considering a move to Dunedin, or had already done so.

Rebecca Gibney
Rebecca Gibney
The names of two of the companies have been confirmed. The third, still finalising its plans, remains under wraps for now.

One choosing to relocate was Australian R and R Productions, headed by Gibney, a New Zealand-born actress living and working in Australia, and husband Richard Bell.

Gibney's acting credits include The Flying Doctors, Halifax f.p. and Packed to the Rafters.

She and her husband have also filmed the Australian television drama series Wanted, in which Gibney also starred. It is into a third season.

The other company to move south was Torchlight Films, comprising film-makers Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader, formerly of Wellington.

The pair were responsible for last year's award-winning film The Great Maiden's Blush.

Both Mr Bell and Ms Bosshard said they hoped to make more films and television in Dunedin, helping fuel the rise of an industry now worth $34 million across Otago-Southland.

Mr Bell said he and his wife had been drawn to Dunedin after filming part of series two of Wanted in the city in 2016.

The series had also taken in locations in Queenstown and across Central Otago, but Dunedin's mix of locations helped seal the deal, he said.

Some parts of the city could resemble New York, Edinburgh or even Thailand, ''and then 10 minutes out of the city you're on this big deserted lonely beach, or in a forest''.

''That's pretty hard to find,'' Mr Bell said.

The couple were still busy writing and commuting to and from Australia, while finishing work on the third series of Wanted, Mr Bell said.

But they also now have a home in Dunedin and were on the lookout for a permanent CBD office from which to operate.

That could result in more productions, and more work, coming to the city, he hoped.

A series like Wanted could employ between 65 and 120 people, and new productions could help make the industry more sustainable in the city.

Ms Bosshard, a former Dunedin student, said she opted to return to her roots.

Family reasons played a part but so, too, did the city's environment, locations and sense of history, she said.

She and Mr Loader were ''independent film-makers'' reliant on small budgets, existing locations and tight crews, typically of between 10 and 25 people, she said.

She hoped to ''get under the skin'' of the South and tell more of its stories, while using local crews where possible.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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