Film-makers put capital on war footing

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 05/11/2013
Erin Banks
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
THROUGH A NEW LENS: Actor Erin Banks will play Ettie Rout, a safe-sex campaigner during the war and "unsung hero of New Zealand history."

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Wellington's south coast will become Gallipoli and Queen Elizabeth Park will be the Somme in a new telling of Kiwis' role in World War I.

Gibson Group is making a television documentary-drama called War News, to screen on Prime next year to mark a century since the war started in August 1914.

Producer Gary Scott said the five one-hour episodes would be shot in Wellington over the course of the next month, starting on Sunday.

The south coast near Red Rocks would be used to recreate the deadly campaign at Gallipoli, Queen Elizabeth Park on the Kapiti Coast would become the Somme, and holes were being dug at Avalon in Lower Hutt to double as shell holes at Passchendaele, the site of the most deadly battle for New Zealand soldiers.

The idea was to present dramatisations of the war "like it was happening yesterday", with news bulletins filmed at the former TVNZ studios at Avalon.

Most of the acting talent was being sourced in Wellington, and some of the bigger roles had gone to Richard Dey, Jason Whyte, and The Hobbit dwarf Peter Hambleton.

Erin Banks will play Ettie Rout, a New Zealand safe sex campaigner who fought for soldiers to be given condoms so they didn't catch diseases from French prostitutes.

She had not heard of Rout until the audition but now thought her to be an "unsung hero of New Zealand history".

The series got $1.84 million of funding from NZ on Air, which describes it as a documentary series looking at "the roles played by many different New Zealanders in various WWI campaigns, and will be told in an innovative way".

Gibson Group has put out a call for extras, with applications closing today. Candidates must be under 1.8 metres tall, with a chest size of less than 107cm.

Extras will earn $100 to $180 a day but must be able to work nights and have an "era-appropriate" soldier's haircut. They have to be European men aged 18 to 35.

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- The Dominion Post

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