One movie, two cities, lots of plans
One is hot, sunny, beachy, dusty and known for its massive biotechnology centre. The other is windy and has a film industry - but all the hot air comes from the politicians.
Wellington and San Diego have more than a few differences but not when it comes to a recent movie. Made in New Zealand's capital city, The Cure portrays San Diego, a US city of more than 1.3 million people just north of the Mexican border.
It is an action/thriller starring Antonia Prebble (best known as Loretta West in Outrageous Fortune) playing a young scientist who discovers the pharmaceutical company she works for has developed a cure for cancer but is keeping it secret.
The movie was directed by Australian-born, NZ resident director and producer David Gould, who was motivated to write the script having watched his own mother die from cancer.
Gould used chemistry laboratories around Wellington, including at Victoria University and the Insititute of Environmental Science and Research, to recreate the feel of a corporate bio-technology company.
He also used beaches and temperate rainforest in Wellington to recreate the feel of San Diego over five weeks of filming .
It showed Wellington and New Zealand could be much more than a film set for fantasy movies such as The Hobbit, Gould said.
"It's not just Middle Earth. It can be many other places too. I wanted to prove that we can do that not only for the locations but also the actors. It was important to get the US accents right. I truly believe we can make films here stand on par with films made in the United States, the UK and Europe."
Prebble, 29, said it was a matter of remembering how to do an American accent honed years earlier during Power Rangers and another US television series.
Adjusting from her home of Auckland to Wellington was no problem. "I'm from Wellington and moved away when I was 20. I'm keen to get back whenever I can; Wellington is such a wonderful place. I would love it if it got more pieces of the pie."
Prebble said she jumped at the chance to play the role of Beth because it was rare to get such a strong female lead, particularly in an action film.
"I thought that was really interesting and the script was a pioneering step. And it was a multi-faceted role."
She felt she related to the character of Beth.
"I'm a pretty ambitious, determined person myself and once I set my sights on something, I just go for it. I understand her and what she's gone through. It's a weird chemistry or whatever it is that happens, but it definitely happened with this."
As for Wellington, Gould has plans to recreate other parts of the world in the windy city, including a a sci-fi movie portraying the Central American country of Nicaragua and another featuring Rome.
"I'm confident these locations can be reproduced here in Wellington."
The Cure will be launched at Wellington's Embassy theatre on February 6. Tickets at www.thecuremovie.com.
- Sunday Star Times