24 February 2004
'Boogeyman': case study.(between the lines)
Ask Senator International president Joe Drake what the best thing was about shooting Screen Gems' "Boogeyman" in Auckland, New Zealand, and the answer sounds like faint praise indeed: "It wasn't a disaster." When pressed, though, his thoughts on the location are far more enthusiastic. "We got what we expected, and that's a rare thing in the movie business," Drake says. "It's so tough not to come away from a place saying, 'God, that was brutal.'"
A horror thriller about a traumatized young man who confronts a monstrous entity from his childhood, "Boogeyman" is directed by Stephen T. Kay (2000's "Get Carter"). Although set in Chicago, the movie was filmed last year in Auckland's Henderson Studios and on location from June to mid-September.
Auckland, the nation's largest metropolitan center, is a second home to co-producer Rob Tapert, who shot 318 hours of series television there during the 1990s, including "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess." Tapert's wife--"Xena's" Lucy Lawless--stars in "Boogeyman," along with Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel and Skye McCole Bartusiak.
Drake says he knew little of New Zealand, apart from it being home to New Line's "The Lord of the Rings" franchise and a tourist destination. "Rob made a compelling case to shoot there because of his familiarity with the country and his relationships with crews," he says. "There were a lot of positives and not a lot of negatives--it was pretty much a turnkey operation."
Tapert, who produced "Boogeyman" with Brian Goldsmith for Sam Raimi's GhostHouse Pictures, says taking productions to New Zealand is attractive for several reasons, including a beneficial exchange rate (then 48 cents to the greenback), the local infrastructure, working conditions and indigenous, hardworking, nonunion crews.
But the same is not true of the nation's stages. "Studio facilities are nonexistent," Tapert says. "That's a huge downside to New Zealand. In Auckland--the major population, talent and crew base--there is no real studio, and that's going to stand in the way of Auckland developing into a film center."
Nonetheless, Tapert hopes to return within the next year or so to film at least another feature--though he doesn't plan to shoot more TV series in the region anytime soon.
"There's very little American TV you could shoot in New Zealand," Tapert says. "It's very hard to duplicate modern-day America in New Zealand: You couldn't do 'CSI: Auckland' for America."
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