Kiwi film stars target public for funding

The film-makers behind Once Were Warriors are asking the public for half a million dollars to get another movie off the ground - and will reward investors with a stake in the production.

The team behind the classic Kiwi movie - including director Lee Tamahori and producer Robin Scholes - will also helm The Patriarch, with actor Temuera Morrison taking a starring role.

The adaptation of Witi Ihimaera's 1994 book Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies is due to begin pre-production here in December, Scholes said.

It will be Tamahori's first New Zealand film since Once Were Warriors.

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Producers of the film, which would be shot in Gisborne on a budget of $9.4 million, listed it on new equity crowdfunding platform Snowball Effect today.

Scholes said after an overseas investor didn't come through at the last minute, filmmakers needed an extra $500,000 to get shooting underway.

"We are at the very, very last stage, and this will be the final push that we need to get it done."

The Patriarch was funded to the tune of $400,000 by NZ on Air in 2012.

They hoped to raise the funds by the end of October.

Ihimaera, who was associate producer on the project, has described the book as his attempt to write a Maori western.

Set in Waituhi, it follows the character of Mahana, played by Morrison, and his conflict with the rebellious youngster of the family set against the backdrop of rural 1950s New Zealand.

Mahana had been named Bulibasha in the novel, but Scholes said fimmakers had changed it because they thought it sounded too aggressive.

"We didn't want the character to be seen as another Jake [the Muss]."

In a statement, Tamahori - who is currently in Prague shooting Emperor with Adrien Brody - said he had a personal understanding of the era.  

"I badly want to put this environment and its characters on the big screen. They deserve no less."

Snowball Effect head of company pipeline Shaun Edlin said investors on Snowball Effect would be among those to
get their money back first if the movie was commercially successful, and would be poised to gain annual bonuses. 

Depending on the commercial success of the film, investors could receive much more. The returns would continue through the lifespan of the film.

Other rewards included being named in the credits and invitations to the film set and the premiere.

While there are other crowdfunding platforms in New Zealand, Snowball Effect is the first to give investors in a project a slice of its profits.

Other sites, like Pledge Me or Kickstarter, work on a rewards-based system. But changes in the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 in April have made equity crowdfunding possible, with Snowball Effect the first to take it on.

Blenheim's Renaissance Brewing, which launched an equity crowdfunding campaign last month, raised $700,000 in less than two weeks by offering just over 12 per cent of the company to investors, Edlin said.

"Kiwis are really jumping on this as a new form of investment. But we are initially just going to start with a few companies, we don't think the market is there to roll out a whole lot of companies at once."

Investment opportunities for growth companies in New Zealand had been limited, he said.

- This story has been corrected