Dramatic role just part of the job for Cera

QUAKE DRAMA: A scene from three-part television drama Hope and Wire.
QUAKE DRAMA: A scene from three-part television drama Hope and Wire.

The second instalment of Hope and Wire, a three-part drama series based on the Canterbury earthquakes, screens tonight. What support did Cera give to the project? Vicki Anderson reports.

It is easy to imagine that staff at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) don't receive much credit. But  Cera and some of its staff have been thanked in the credits of Hope and Wire, a three-part drama series based on the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, which has polarised viewers since it aired on TV3 last week.

Why was the organisation been acknowledged? Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said he hadn't expected any recognition.

CERA BOSS: Roger Sutton.
CERA BOSS: Roger Sutton.

The role Cera staff played in helping the production of the television series was simply part of their ''regular duties'', Sutton said today.

It seems that for some Cera staff, daily tasks can include regularly escorting film crews in and out of the central business district and residential red zones.

Presumably there were hard hats and hi-vis vests to distribute. And passes, stickers and forms on clipboards were probably involved.

Sutton said the Hope and Wire team had to ''secure the site''.

Cera staff would then escort members of the cast and crew through ''low-risk'' restricted areas, turning up when the film crew packed in and appearing again when they packed out their gear for the day.

''Cera operations staff also visited the sites as a part of their normal operations patrol of active sites,'' Sutton said.

''We allowed a wide range of people access to the CBD red zone for various reasons.''

Before June 2013, when the cordon was in place, for Cera staff it was simply part of their daily tasks to escort members of the public, foreign diplomats, contractors, journalists, researchers, and documentary and film-makers into the area.

''Cera staff also hosted bus tours and walking tours in the CBD red zone for similar groups.''

Before the cordon was lifted, the crew of Hope and Wire was simply another group of people with cameras who had been granted access passes to the red zone, like former model Rachel Hunter and actor Russell Crowe.

Filming in the CBD red zone took place over about five days.

''I agreed to support the Hope and Wire production but they still had to apply for access to the sites they wanted to use like everyone else,'' Sutton said.

''Although this is a drama series, I felt the use of existing buildings that were damaged in the earthquakes would allow a greater appreciation for all viewers of the very difficult conditions experienced in 2010 and 2011.''

Cera also granted the production crew controlled access to some Crown-owned residential red-zoned homes.

Filming took place over about two weeks, between February and April, last year.

Sutton said every effort was made to respect the previous owners of the homes.

''I made sure that all previous property owners where filming was to occur were contacted by Cera to advise that their properties were to be used in the production and explain the project.''

The Hope and Wire production team also door-knocked in the area to advise of their plans.

Sutton said Cera did not contribute financially to the drama series.

''Cera had no input into product placement, the scripting of the series or any advertising,'' he said.

''While Cera and some staff members are thanked in the credits, I didn't make this a requirement of Cera's support.''

The Press