Director defends quakes TV series

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 06:52 09/12/2012
Gaylene Preston
DIRECTOR: Gaylene Preston

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The director of a television drama about the Canterbury earthquakes feels a "huge responsibility" to tell the stories of ordinary people caught up in the disaster.

The six-part TV3 series Hope & Wire, funded by a $5 million grant from NZ On Air, will start shooting in Christchurch in February.

Celebrated director Gaylene Preston emphasised her roots in Christchurch, saying she has spent about half the last year in the city talking to people about their experiences.

Preston studied fine arts in Ilam when she was 18, but has not lived in Christchurch since. "People panic and think some woman is coming from somewhere else to tell this story, but actually I have roots in Christchurch," she said.

"I was born in Greymouth and the main place we went to in the 1950s was Christchurch. I have spent many holidays here and in Governor's Bay."

The series would "honour" those who have lived through the Canterbury earthquakes.

"It is about paying tribute to true stories of ordinary people living through the quakes.

"There were people taking bets on who was going to play Gerry Brownlee. We are not doing that. We are a bottom-up story. It is about people wading through liquefaction and insurance forms.

"It's a huge responsibility. The work must carry a huge responsibility in order for it to be worthwhile."

"We are not making a disaster movie. We are not talking about the inner city and the stories of people really really most affected because it is far too early for that and far too raw. The last thing they need is cameras around their experience."

The award-winning film director's earlier work has included a feature film about her father's war experiences and a TV documentary on the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake. "Being able to do social history close to the time is a fantastic opportunity," she said.

The drama will shoot in Christchurch until mid-April.

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- Sunday Star Times

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