David Whittet Films Blog
Independent New Zealand Film Production

The "Hobbit" Factor

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We had assembled an ensemble cast for Amiri & Aroha, with an interesting mix of up and coming acting talent from various casting agencies and local talent from my local Te Karaka community.

Not longer after principal photography commenced, the Hobbit dispute hit the headlines, resulting in a stand off between actors and producers. Whilst all the cast had agreed to work for the experience and potential exposure in lieu of payment, their agents started making impossible demands for an independent film maker. One by one, the lead cast members dropped out leaving the production in jeopardy.

The one cast member who did not leave was Kristel Day. I had cast Kristel in the lead role of Aroha. Kristel told me that she really believed in the story and saw the film’s potential and she didn’t want to see the production collapse. Using contacts in the local iwi radio station, Turanga FM, Kristel set about recasting the film.

Kristel came on board as my co-producer. We did a radio interview together on Turanga FM which ignited local interest. Our audition had an amazing turnout and thankfully the film is now back on track with a new cast!

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Shooting on location in the caravan at Morere Hot Springs, work was frequently interrupted by calls from disgruntled agents, and as if to rub it in, a Dominion Post billboard at the Hot Springs proclaimed the Hobbit dispute!

This story made it as a trivia item on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)