$70,000 buys a whale of a tale

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 13/01/2013
Pete Bethune
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ
CLINCHER: Anti-whaling protester Pete Bethune, pictured with daughters Danielle and Alycia, said a $70,000 down payment was enough to agree to selling his life story – including the sinking of the Ady Gil and his time in a Tokyo prison – to a film producer.

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Eco warrior Pete Bethune is set to have his life story made into a movie.

Bethune confirmed in a blog that he had sold the rights to his story to a movie producer for $70,000.

The film will be based on the Aucklander's book, Whale Warrior, which centres on the sinking of the Ady Gil after it collided with a Japanese whaling ship, his detention on the Shonan Maru 2 and subsequent conviction on charges of assault, trespass, vandalism and possession of a knife.

He spent four months in prison in Tokyo while awaiting trial, before being deported from Japan after being handed a suspended two-year jail sentence.

In his blog, Bethune refers to the producer only as an Australian with the first name of Andrew.

He said that during the recent business meeting he had been sceptical about the producer's desire to turn his story into a film.

"Is this the right guy to sell to? Well, it is not like there is a queue of production companies looking to do a movie on it, so maybe I've got nothing to lose," Bethune wrote.

"I still have the dilemma of whether this guy is just another wannabe executive producer with no real substance.

" ‘I tell ya what', I finally say. ‘I don't know if you are for real or full of s... And I still have my doubts on whether you can pull this off. Or even if it is worthy of a movie'.

"A small smile creeps across Andrew's face. ‘But I have a campaign starting soon in Africa, and I'm still 70 grand short of what I need to run it. You give me 70 grand in the next five days and we have a deal.' "

Bethune wrote that two days later, a payment of $70,000 had been deposited into Earthrace Conservation's bank account.

The deal business meeting was conducted at Los Angeles' Chateau Marmont hotel. Bethune wrote: "I've heard about this place, but never been here before. It just smells of power and money, and I feel somewhat out of place in my tattered camo cloths [sic] and grubby backpack."

He said the producer told him he believed a movie on Bethune's life and times would "help the anti-whaling cause".

The Bethune-skippered Ady Gill - previously named Earthrace - sank after a collision with a Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru 2 in the Southern Ocean in January 2010.

A month later he boarded Shonan Maru 2, intending to make a citizen's arrest of its captain Hiroyuki Komiya for what he said was the attempted murder of his six crew. Bethune also presented the whalers with a $4.3-million bill for Ady Gill. Members of the whaling ship's crew instead arrested him and took him back to Tokyo.

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Bethune's subsequent case attracted emotional responses in Japan. On his arrival there, protesters holding Japanese flags lined the pier, shouting: "Apologise to the Japanese people! We will tear you apart!"

Protesters also gathered outside the Tokyo District Court waving placards with messages including "Hang terrorist Peter Bethune" and "Destroy Caucasian discrimination against Japanese".

- Sunday Star Times

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