From Winton with love

17:00, Aug 11 2014
Tim Shadbolt
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt is pushing for a James Bond-styled blockbuster to be filmed in Southland aimed at cashing in on movie-hungry Chinese audiences.

Behind the scenes, Shadbolt has gone as far as to suggest plots for an estimated $5 million-plus 3-D spy thriller, documents obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act show.

In an email to Southern Institute of Technology film tutor and movie maker Patrick Gillies, the mayor says: "I like the sound of a James Bond [type] film in 3D".

As a storyline, Shadbolt suggests a funeral, perhaps in Winton, with the deceased having left his grandson an ornate box containing gold and a treasure map.

The will is read out by a lawyer who then tips off mafia clients as to where the mother lode is located and so "the chase and race begins".

Expect kung-fu fighting by Chinese actors and other martial arts scenes.

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Gillies confirmed the discussions for the Chinese-Southland production but said plans were in the early stages.

He told The Southland Times if the James Bond-style movie went ahead in Southland, it would be "huge".

It could generate multimillions in box-office sales if done in 3-D - a style popular in China.

In an email to Shadbolt, Gillies said: "Not only do 3-D films fare better at the Chinese box office, but it will also help to showcase some of the adventurous aspects of your storyline."

Shadbolt said the idea of a making a feature film in Southland came from a meeting he attended in Queenstown with film-makers - and turned out to be a challenge.

Gillies said what funding came out of Southland toward the cost of making the film depended on what Shadbolt deemed appropriate to invest.

Shadbolt initially suggested a script based around the experiences of Chinese goldmining in Southland.

The emails show Gillies then came up with the idea of a "spy/espionage-type action thriller along the lines of The Bourne Identity or James Bond".

Emails between Shadbolt and Gillies also show the mayor approached Southern Institute of Technology Deputy chief executive Bharat Guha regarding a joint production between SIT and an unnamed tertiary film school from Suqian, China - Invercargill's sister city.

Sharon Reece is a journalism student at SIT

The Southland Times