Holy Roller Filming In Christchurch
A jittery man of God wanders down a gruesome alleyway in central Christchurch, fending off a solicitous prostitute as he asks directions from a group of homeless people.
When the rain starts falling, the preacher, prostitute and rough sleepers are immediately surrounded by umbrella-wielding assistants.
They are all actors in a home-grown but Hollywood-bound feature film, shot in Christchurch yesterday.
The film, The Holy Roller, is a romantic comedy-drama about a struggling preacher who is tricked into starting a church in a nightclub to pay a debt to an underworld boss.
With a budget of less than $1 million, the film was written by Christchurch man Angus Benfield, 36, who is also the film’s lead actor and producer.
Benfield said he drew on his experiences of Bible study in America about 10 years ago for the plot and characters.
“I’ve sunk my heart in it,” he said. “It’s been great fun.”
Benfield said it was feasible to make a decent low-budget film in New Zealand because industry people were eager to help or would accept discounted fees to get the project finished.
Production designer Bryce Holtshousen, 40, said alleyways were tough to decorate because they “sucked up” so many props to look authentic and full.
The South African native has recently moved to Dunedin via Los Angeles where he worked on more than 100 Hollywood films, including Men in Black II, Spiderman and the Oscar-nominated Tumbleweeds.
Holtshousen said film work was harder to come by in New Zealand but the industry was far friendlier.
However, he said it was far more difficult to track down unusual props.
It took a full day of phone calls to acquire an adjustable heart monitor.
British actor Mike Maxwell, 57, who lives in Spain, was in Christchurch visiting family when he heard the cast was being selected. He plays the role of Declan, “a heavy who finds God”. [stuff]