“That’s a wRaP!!!” Well, that’s what the enthused director, Mardana Mayginnes, said with sorrow last Friday night at a beach bonfire near Auckland. Exhaustive and thrilling as it was, there was a sadness that had us already reminiscing of the finished experience.
When I returned last week from driving up Queenstown to Auckland, I entered back, behind the scenes in this independent film. It was good to come back into the mix, and I could see the crew’s excitement as they were approaching the final week of filming after working day after day for weeks on end. I missed some intimate scenes and filming which probably allowed them to maintain true to the art and let the creative process and intense acting scenes play out as they should in a quiet atmosphere.
This film is a drama with love that twists and characters that are confused with their own emotion and so the actors need to do strange things sometimes to make their character’s come to life. I thought the small crew strengthened the movie because they naturally came together and formed a relaxed, quiet, professional and a quite intimate atmosphere. At times, I know we all felt very lucky to be a part of this small, intensely creative group. It felt very special to us all, well, except for Graham Candy.
I tagged along to a rad location, under the Auckland Harbor Bridge at night. I got lost driving there with the Art Director, Rita. It seemed like at the end of this production, Rita and I were always getting lost together in different cars, taking wrong turns, in our attempt to catch up with the production. We finally found their location and we had to climb outside of a broken fence along the side of a hill, in pitch black, to get there – well at least from where Rita and I parked!
They used the under-framing of the bridge to hoist up a light for a beautiful scene underneath the bridge with the Auckland city skyline in the background.
Amanda’s performance of her character, Phoenix, was always right on point. The veteran actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, said that Amanda would set the tone for all actors on set to perform at a high-level in her scenes. In a recent interview of Amanda, she explained how she felt a deep, emotional connection to her character, Phoenix.
In these final days, I would tag along wherever I could with this film crew. They were rushing from location to location and were very tough to keep up with as they had no time to waist.
I took the ferry with them to Waiheke Island where they filmed scenes on the ferry and the island. Waiheke Island is home to some wonderful landscapes and wine vineyards.
If you kept up with my previous BLOG posts, then you will recognize my hitchhiking, couch-surfing friend in the following photo. Sofie ended up coming up the coast to join our crew as an observer and an extra. The generous crew let her couch surf at the production house and we all enjoyed her wonderful company.
Although, our WRAP PARTY was last Saturday at Candy Production’s studio. I felt that our celebration really went down the night before on Friday. As I have said before in my previous BLOG posts about my experience here, truth blends with fiction, and this time the party we filmed at the beach was really a party.
As we were driving out to the beach location, the moon rose seemingly large and bright yellow on the lowest of the horizon. It was a beautiful night and I was able to capture this moment at a location on the cliff when the crew organized and planned around the tide.
We had to wait at the local bar for the tide to go down before we started the fire on the beach, so like usual, it was a good time had by all at the pub.
Graham Candy said that he is a “Love Snake” and then hissed at the camera. It is quite a frightening experience to endure as an amateur photographer.
I was always chasing after Keisha Castle-Hughes to try and get a picture of her beautiful face – sometimes she just gets that twinkle in her eye. Keisha would always tell me to get off the film set and called me “mooch”. I asked her to marry me twice, but she wasn’t really into it.
Hey, Sanders! I never would have guessed that you would be the only swinger of the group. Heads the field! You are the favorite crew member of all us. Congratulations!
When the tide went back down, we drove to the beach and bonfire party. There was constant live music being played by Graham and myself.
Graham’s duet partner would give me a tingle sensation down my spine when they performed together. That’s the highest measurement a song’s musicial spell can get on the center of my musical chakra. I played some afro-caribbean rhythmic tunes of mine and it was a beach party around a fire – my favorite.
Shiloh, Keisha, and Graham acted out a scene dangerously high in a tree that twisted outward, from the cliffside out, over the beach.
The crew was filming up into the tree from the party, underneath the tree, around the fire.
GRaham surprised us all by performing an emotionally charge “Ka Mate” Haka dance while balancing two feet upon a limb high in the sky. The Haka is a powerful, traditional Maori war dance from New Zealand. After Graham performed it up in the tree, he jumped off of the tree limb, grabbed the limb like a monkey, and then swung dangerously far below to the beach sand. He put on an impromptu acting performance that was scripted for him to do the Haka, but not really with all the dangerous monkey action. The director, Mardana, came out and hugged him with joy.
Just two nights before, Graham was having beers at a party with two members of The All Blacks, the New Zealand national rugby team. There performance of the Haka dance has been called “the greatest ritual in world sport”, so maybe that’s where Graham got his motivation and spirit from.
Keisha was so brave, putting herself out on a limb like that for the scene. We provided assistance on the way down as it was risky putting our lead actress up way up in this tree.
After the acting performance in the tree, Graham would then jump on the guitar and give us a heartfelt ditty after heartfelt ditty. I could see Shiloh enjoying himself as Graham reminded Shiloh why he gave the talented musician this opportunity. He wrote this wonderful character for Graham Candy and Graham probably gave his best performance on the final night. Whenever, graham plays the guitar, everyone shuts up as his music is soft, pensive, thoughtful and touching. When I hop on, my energy and jams make everyone louder and most of the time people tend to get a little rowdy when I play. I only get bottles thrown at me once a set. That’s not so bad, right?
At the beach bonfire, the director, Mardana Mayginnes, officially announced “That’s a Wrap!” The rounds were made and we all spoke, thanking one another for the pleasure of working on the project. It was a heartfelt moment that only those that were there could really understand.
I remembered it as a joyous and sad moment as the end had come like we never thought it would. The sense of accomplishment is sometimes overshadowed by the awareness that our time together had passed and our reality was fading. Truth was fiction and our reality was living this movie. We were living a movie and filming it at the same time. Why can’t life be a movie forever? Well, what better way to finish our lost reality then with a wrap party at Candy Productions Studio?
Thanks for the beer, Shiloh and Mardana!
Sanders, you are so naughty. You too, Zara.
From right to left, our very popular, director of photography, Jake Bryant, our marine coordinator, Gibbo, and our Art Director, Rita.
Of course, Graham Candy made an announcement and dedicated a song to a special someone in the group. He brought in a piano player and played some wonderful songs with him.
Graham moved us all as he sang his heartfelt tunes again.
I put down some jams too.
Saying goodbye was tough, but we said it with style.
Some special crew members were given these old, vintage, pocket songbooks. How come I didn’t get one? Well, at least I got these photographs.
I want to dedicate this song to a special someone in the group. This is for you… yes, you know who.
I plan on covering the complete evolution of this film. The editing process will be in full gear soon and within just three months the film should be taking final shape. Maybe they can make the Sundance deadline? Maybe I will just have to do more hard work, show them how to party with style in Cannes, and then write more about my debaucheries and their success. Until then, goodbye you lovely Kiwis. How the time can fly when I’m with you.
with all my loving heart,
So beautifully written and photographed. I look forward to this blog like nothing else.
Keep us updated, you really do an amazing job with this blog!! I’m soo looking forward to the film 😀
Thank you for sharing with us your entire experience on the set. It was an amazing journey!
I’ve sat here looking at this little box quite a while – debating if this is a place for a personal message – have decided yes. Just, coincidently, got off the phone with a dear friend (Shiloh’s mom) and here was your posting. We were talking about doors closing/new ones opening – the people who share our journeys. For us, the sisterhood of close women friends who nurture our souls, listening patiently (“our people), the “keepers” in our lives. As moms, our efforts to not hold on too much or too strongly, praying our children know as we let go and watch them fly (away), we are the safety net below them. Your blog is such a gift – letting us share a journey – knowing the experience has given you all some of “your people” – the keepers you will cherish for years to come! Thank you. Can’t wait for the release.
Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed catching glimpses of my lovely granddaughter Amanda. So looking forward to seeing the movie.