NZFC backs Donaldson, Tamahori projects

Roger Donaldson is attached to direct two projects, a feature doc and a feature, inspired by the lives of two famous Kiwis.

McLaren will profile Bruce McLaren, the Formula One champion who won the US Grand Prix when he was 23, the youngest ever to do so.

The Guinea Pig Club will chronicle the story of renegade plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe, who revolutionised the treatment of burns victims during WW2.

The New Zealand Film Commission has offered conditional investment to both projects. Donaldson has already shot some footage for McLaren, using NZFC development funds.

The NZFC is also co-funding The Patriarch, just the second Kiwi feature from director Lee Tamahori, who broke through with Once Were Warriors in 1994.

Due to shoot on March 24, the drama is scripted by John Collee, based on Whale Rider author Witi Ihimaera's novel Bulibasha. The protagonist is the youngest son of a huge extended Maori family of shearers, who clashes with his grandfather. Casting is yet to be announced.

Once Were Warriors’ Robin Scholes is producing, eOne has Australasian rights and Wild Bunch is selling in the rest of the world. The production is also getting NZ$3.52 million from the NZ Screen Production Incentive.

McLaren is being produced by Matthew Metcalf and Fraser Brown. McLaren won the 1959 US Grand Prix and later founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which remains in the Formula One championship as McLaren.

He died in 1970, aged 32, when his Can-Am car crashed on the Lavant Straight just before Woodcote corner at Goodwood circuit in England.

Tim Sanders is producing The Guinea Pig Club, scripted by Mike Riddell. McIndoe worked for the Royal Air Force during the war. At the recently rebuilt Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex, he founded a Centre for Plastic and Jaw Surgery where he treated aircrew's very deep burns and serious facial disfigurement. Patients at the hospital called themselves the Guinea Pig Club.

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson tells IF the commission is pleased to support two projects directed by Donaldson, whose credits include the Kiwi classics Smash Palace, Sleeping Dogs and The World's Fastest Indian, and Tamahori's film.

Gibson says Sanders is in the UK raising finance. Sanders is partnered with Phillippa Campbell and Fiona Copland in production company Field Theory, which is backed by the NZFC’s business development scheme modelled on Screen Australia’s enterprise scheme.