Hope and Wire: Mending the cracks

23:26, Jun 29 2014
Hope and Wire
HOPE AND WIRE: British actor Bernard Hill

A three-part TV3 drama series about the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes on ordinary people is the brainchild of Kiwi filmmaker Gaylene Preston.

Hope And Wire showcases local talent such as Joel Tobeck, Miriama McDowell and Gaylene's daughter Chelsie Preston Crayford plus British actor Bernard Hill.

Sarah Nealon talked to Preston about her motivation for the series and the challenges of filming in a quake-afflicted city.

The stories of three different families coping in different ways with the ravages of the Christchurch earthquake form the basis of the local-made drama series Hope And Wire.


These stories feature a struggling middle-aged couple, a young family with a big mortgage, and a comfortable husband and wife with two teenage children.

All have been affected by the Christchurch earthquakes and how they cope is not necessarily defined by their respective social standings.

Joycie (Rachel House), a care worker,  and her partner Len (Bernard Hill) live in the modest downstairs flat of a house owned by local property developer Greggo (Joel Tobeck).

After the couple's kitchen is ruined by the earthquake they move into their backyard and end up feeding stray animals and helping a couple of homeless people.

Meanwhile, digger driver Ryan (Jarod Rawiri, below) is sleeping in his ute parked outside his dream home. His wife Donna (Miriama McDowell) and their two daughters are staying with family in Auckland.

Donna is too scared to come back to Christchurch but Ryan feels he needs to stay and earn money for the family. Lonely and drinking too much, Ryan is in danger of tearing his family apart for good.

Then there is Jonty (Stephen Lovatt), a lawyer married to Ginny (Luanne Gordon), a full-time homemaker with whom he has two teenage children.

When the big earthquake struck, it created problems that threatened a supposedly strong marriage.

"I wanted to show a family that had lots of choices - a white middle-class family," says Preston. "And a normal Kiwi family mortgaged to the max and the inner-city riff raff who carry on living in the red zone.

"But funnily enough I was inspired by a piece written in the Christchurch Press about a woman and her husband who had lived in the red zone for 90 days and 90 nights with no toilet, no water, no power and all those things that you take for granted.

"They'd looked after stray animals and they stayed in their back yard and they said that they were healthier and happier from having done it. And I thought that was really interesting."

People's emotional response to the quakes is arguably what defines this drama by highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

"You've got people who wouldn't normally meet one another, you've got people who might have actually lived happily ever after but that bloody great dreadful thing has wrecked it for them," says Gaylene.

"There is flight or fight. People have really different approaches to shock. Some people go calm, some people lose it, some people have to go. It's instinctive. Some people have to stay."

The series which also uses news footage, is set in 2010 and 2011 and was filmed in Christchurch last year.

"There was no infrastructure," says Gaylene of her time making the series. "You can't even find a location, find out who owns it, phone the owner, get permission to go there and off we go. No.

"You find a location. But finding out who owns it is quite difficult because it might be in transit from the owner to the demolisher. It could be that the council is involved.

"You've got to find out who owns it, get permission and then you've got to get an engineer's report."

But Preston did not let these challenges get her down.

"It's like it doesn't work. But yet it did. Somehow things happened," she says. "Somebody knew someone. The Christchurch people were amazing."

Also in the series is Preston's daughter, Chelsie Preston Crayford.

With facial piercings, an untidy black bob, severe make-up and scruffy clothes, Chelsie is almost unrecognisable as Monee, a young woman from a good family who has fallen in with a bad crowd.

"I love working with Chelsie," says Preston, who also directed Chelsie in the film Home By Christmas.

"I don't think it's easy when you come into the film industry and your parent is known. That can actually be really difficult," says Preston.

"It's always really difficult for me to cast Chelsie because you don't cast these things on your own. People
ask questions.

"It's much harder to push for a close relative who is an actor rather than one who's not. Fortunately, she's a very good actor."

Hope And Wire
TV3, Thursdays, 8.30pm

-TV Guide