Niki Caro on set with Mulan (Yifei Liu). (Photo credit: Jasin Boland.© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved).

As Niki Caro’s Mulan launches globally on Disney+ tonight, WIFT Australia and WIFT New Zealand announced they are staging a virtual event with the filmmaker and DOP Mandy Walker.

Caro and Walker will discuss their collaboration on the live action tale of China’s legendary female warrior and share personal success stories and tips on maintaining creative drive during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“WIFT Virtual is honoured to offer members and a global audience the opportunity to listen and learn from these two talented women,” said WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham.

Mulan is a landmark for gender representation on set. We hope Disney’s lead inspires other production companies to hire more female teams.”

Yifei Liu plays Hua Mulan, eldest daughter of an honoured warrior, who steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner strength as she earns the respect of the nation and her father.

The cast includes Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The screenplay is by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek, based on the narrative poem The Ballad of Mulan.

Niki Caro and Mandy Walker.

More than 1,500 New Zealanders worked on the movie over 143 shooting days, with a local production spend of more than $200 million.

“As one of a small number of women directing large budget studio features, this was an amazing opportunity to come home to,” Caro told the New Zealand Film Commission.

“In New Zealand, this crew just wrapped their arms around this movie and around me, and that gave me so much strength to hold this story up.”

More than 4,000 weapons and 1,000 costumes were created, with 118 horses used in filming. Weta Digital employed more than 400 people on the production. The film received the New Zealand Screen Production Grant plus the extra 5 per cent uplift.

It was the largest feature film to be based in Auckland and the first to use the two state of the art sound stages at Kumeu Film Studios.

NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan said: “Projects like Mulan attract hundreds of millions of dollars into New Zealand and create thousands of jobs. This is new money, providing a massive boost to our economy. We are so proud of what Niki Caro and everyone associated with the production has achieved.”

WIFT Virtual is a series of online events produced by Yolandi Franken of WIFT NSW. WIFT Queensland’s event manager Karolina Berkell-Kirk produced the Excellence in Craft series.

Moderated by Pearl Tan, this episode is sponsored by Screen Queensland, WIFT NZ, the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand and the Australian Directors Guild.

Australia: 12.00pm – 1.00pm AEST, Saturday September 12
New Zealand: 2.00pm – 3.00pm NZST, Saturday September 12
Los Angeles: 7.00pm – 8.00pm PT, Friday September 11


Registration is required. Free for WIFT Australia members and by donation for non-members. Register with Eventbrite here.

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