Historical drama to shoot in NZ and Tasmania

13 August, 2014 by Don Groves

In the end, it didn’t come down to a choice between New Zealand and Australia as the location for The Light Between Oceans, a Hollywood adaptation of Australian author M.L. Stedman’s debut novel set on an island off the coast of WA in 1918.

The producers have decided to shoot most of the film in the Marlborough and Otago regions of New Zealand plus a week in Tasmania. The Tassie location is Stanley on the north-west coast, an area which writer-director Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines)  visited during a recent recce.


Produced by David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford,  the DreamWorks film will star Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. Shooting starts at the end of September. Stedman’s novel revolves around a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a 2-month-old girl and a dead body in a rowboat and decide to raise the baby as their own.

Earlier Australian talent agents had been told the film would shoot in either Australia or New Zealand. The latter had seemed more likely after the government raised the rebates for offshore productions to 20%, plus a further 5% if there are specific benefits to the country, on April 1.

Film New Zealand CEO Gisella Carr said: “The production coming here is the result of successful collaboration between a range of agencies including Marlborough District Council, Film Otago Southland and Film New Zealand working together with the producers.”

The Tasmanian shoot is a coup for the Apple Isle, which is hosting The Kettering Incident, an eight-hour drama commissioned by Foxtel from writer/producer Vicki Madden’s Sweet Potato Films and Porchlight Films, directed by Rowan Woods and Tony Krawitz.

Elizabeth Debicki plays a doctor who is linked to the cases of two girls who mysteriously disappeared in the wilds of Tasmania 15 years apart and fights to clear her name. Matt Le Nevez is the detective who leads the police investigation. The Tasmanian government is investing $1 million in the series through Screen Tasmania.

Lion, a feature based on true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian who found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated, will be partly shot in Tasmania next year. Garth Davis is directing and the producers are See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning and Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder. The executive producers are Sunstar Entertainment's Andrew Fraser and Shahen Mekertichian.