Under the Mountain Feature Film starts shooting

Under the Mountain, the motion picture adaptation of the popular, award-winning Maurice Gee novel of the same name, will begin principal photography on Monday August 11, 2008. The film’s locations around Auckland, include the iconic Rangitoto Island, a volcano in the Hauraki Gulf. The production will conclude in early October 2008.

The film will be released in New Zealand in 2009 by Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Under the Mountain is produced by Jonathan King and Matthew Grainger of Index Films Limited and Richard Fletcher of Liberty Films Limited. Chris Hampson, Chris Bailey and Trevor Haysom (In My Father’s Den) are the Executive Producers.

Jonathan King is directing Under the Mountain, from a screenplay adaptation written by himself and Matthew Grainger. Jonathan King most recently directed and wrote the hit kiwi film Black Sheep which won four international awards, grossed more than $NZ800,000 in New Zealand, $NZ2million in the United Kingdom and sold to 49 international territories.

Under the Mountain is a dark fantasy adventure story about teenage twins who battle dark forces hidden beneath Auckland’s volcanoes.

“I want to deliver a scary and exciting adventure for teenage audiences,” says Jonathan King. “The story will contrast a contemporary Auckland city setting with a fantastic subterranean world beneath.”

The creature effects will be produced by Academy Award® winner Richard Taylor’s Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Workshop was responsible for effects in the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings films and King Kong, as well as Jonathan King’s earlier Black Sheep.

Jonathan reunites with Black Sheep Director of Photography, Richard Bluck and the film features the work of Production Designers Kim Sinclair and Ralph Davies, Editor Chris Plummer (Dean Spanley) and Composer Victoria Kelly (Out of the Blue). Kelly’s original score for Under the Mountain will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the second of their sponsorships of local films.

Sam Neill (Dean Spanley) stars as the benevolent Mr. Jones and Oliver Driver (Black Sheep) will take the role of the evil Mr Wilberforce. Under the Mountain’s cast introduces two exciting young newcomers, Sophie McBride as Rachel and Tom Cameron as Theo. The 28-member Kiwi cast also includes well-known New Zealand actors Nathaniel Lees, Madelaine Sami and Matt Sunderland.

Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished novelists. In 1979, Under the Mountain (Penguin) was his first novel written and published for teenage readers. The book has sold more than 70,000 copies and has often featured in the New Zealand school curriculum.

Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

Investors include New Zealand Film Commission through Film Fund 2, New Zealand on Air, Footprint Films, 120 dB Films, Ally Media Finance, TVNZ in addition to significant international pre-sales.

International sales are being handled by Kathleen Drumm of NZ Film.

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