OPINION: There's a difference between being starstruck and being flat-out chuffed.
It was really the latter case as Invercargill hosted the premiere of Two Little Boys yesterday. The sense of excitement was real enough, but it was at the prospect of a really good film having been made here, rather than a fizz at the mere thought a movie was made here.
If, for most people, the premiere was more to do with having a good time than hitting the big time, there's nothing too terribly wrong with that.
There's every chance this film will do well in any case. The Sarkies brothers, director Robert and writer Duncan, are no less prodigiously talented for being affable, approachable types. Star Bret McKenzie is now world famous in the world, rather than this blessed corner of it, even though he and co-star Hamish Blake were chosen for qualities other than their incandescent glamour.
So what we have here is a small film with a great deal going for it. One that can be sent optimistically into the whole wide world.
When Roger Donaldson's The World's Fastest Indian had its New Zealand premiere in Invercargill, telling as it did the story of the city's geriatric poster-boy, bike racer Burt Munro, there was a strong sense of hope that promotional benefits might result. They did. They were not inconsiderable, either.
But it wasn't such a secondary benefit that so many Southlanders enjoyed that film so very much. In some ways it helped colour our sense of awareness about where we live, and some of its human history.
On a monumentally larger scale, Peter Jackson's hobbity adventures past and future have enormous economic as well as cultural significance, not simply by making such a compelling case for the film industry potential of the country, but by ensuring that the inherent splendour of the South Island emerged every bit as striking as any of Weta's special effects.
Invercargill, and the Catlins, are perhaps less prepossessing than the Southern Alps, though the film does take in some of the region's most impressive scenery and the Sarkies brothers are hopeful people from Invercargill and the Catlins "embrace the imagery". Duncan even ventured the hope that the Catlins locals don't wind up hating that their area is no longer a secret.
You have to wonder whether John Boorman said that about the homely types of Chattooga River, where he made a particularly low-budget movie called Deliverance. For reasons that we needn't revisit here you couldn't call that move a destinational publicist's dream, but after it became a huge hit lots of people did take to showing up to travel that stretch of river dividing South Carolina and Georgia. Shame that the subsequent death toll from drownings has topped 30, but there you go. Even small films can create lots of ripples.
Two Little Boys isn't that small a film. The southern spend has been estimated at $2 million and the benefits have gone beyond that in terms of experience gained by recruited interns and host areas.
So yes, we do stand to benefit if the film does well nationally and internationally. In that respect it has a beautiful head start by coming on the back of McKenzie's success in Flight of the Conchords, and as an Oscar-winning songwriter.
For now, though, the best thing to do seems to be to settle in, hunker down, and catch the film itself. Should be great fun.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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