NZSO a draw card for international screen blockbusters

February 4, 2013 by Film New Zealand

Film New Zealand says the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is proving a draw card for incoming international films choosing to work in New Zealand.

British composer Alex Heffes and Swedish director Mikael Håfström were just in Wellington to record the score for multi-million dollar action thriller The Tomb starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Zealand’s own Sam Neill.

Alex Heffes first visited New Zealand last year to score the feature film Emperor (starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones) and that experience led him to return here with his latest film.

Film New Zealand CEO Gisella Carr says this shows how creative and business relationships form over one production and translate into ongoing work, as this is Mr Heffes’ second visit in six months to work in New Zealand.

“Repeat business is the strongest affirmation you can have.  It is a vote of support for the exceptional quality of New Zealand work – in this case both the orchestra and the sound team.”

“International competition for orchestral scoring work is intense. The creative team could have chosen to go anywhere in the world.  That they chose New Zealand and the NZSO is testimony to the skill and quality working here represents.

“New Zealand’s creative expertise extends into technological skills and infrastructure that sits behind these.   International producers also appreciate the short time difference with Los Angeles, and the fact that we speak English.”

Mr Heffes says the decision to return to New Zealand was easy after his experience with the NZSO on Emperor in 2012.

“I’ve worked with orchestras all around the world, and this is a unique experience, it’s a working symphony orchestra, not a session orchestra. They perform the classical repertoire all the time in this hall, so they’re very well balanced, and respond incredibly quickly. They know how fast, how slow, how loud, how soft the music is going to speak together in this room.

“That makes it a really gratifying experience for me, because I don’t have to work hard to get the creative response I want, it just sounds great.”

The Tomb is being post produced in Los Angeles, and Mr Heffes says technology and a relatively small time difference, means distance is no barrier.  The postproduction team in LA listening and responding to the recording session in real time, and are able to respond instantly.

The technical back up in New Zealand was also a key factor in attracting the production.

“With the film post production that goes on here now, at a very high level, you’ve got great technical support and expertise, and everyone here in the recording team are fantastic.  I love working with these guys, they’re as good as you’re going to get.

Mr Heffes says the quality of his experience means he would be keen to return with future productions.