By LYNDA VAN KEMPEN
How’s this for a film plot? Take a billionaire philanthropist, mix in a romantic comedy, a $6million-$8million budget and have a Ranfurly radio station at the heart of it all.
All going to plan, the Maniototo will star in Propaganda Film’s movie You’ve Got the Cowboy.
Producer Murray Francis is “very positive” the project will proceed and filming is likely to begin in summer.
His credits include The World’s Fastest Indian and he started the film company last year.
New Zealand billionaire and philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn has recently become a partner in Propaganda Film.
Sir Owen is now based in Monaco and the partnership between him and the film company involves three films, including You’ve Got the Cowboy.
Answering questions by email from Cannes, where he is marketing the film to potential distributors, Mr Francis said he was confident about the film’s wide appeal.
It is described as a “romantic and charming fish-out-of-water story” about a Ranfurly country music radio disc jockey called Cowboy who travels to the big city to try to save his drought-stricken home town by trying to convince a country singer to perform a benefit concert in his home town.
“I believe that it will resonate with audiences worldwide,” he said.
The budget is between $NZ6million and $NZ8million.
The latest round of Government incentives for the New Zealand screen industry and also having Sir Owen investing in the film company were great news, Mr Francis said.
“Sir Owen is an incredibly interesting man, who is one of New Zealand’s great philanthropists.
“It’s incredibly helpful in terms of being able to move forward quickly.
“The New Zealand Government’s support towards the film industry is also an incredible boon.”
This month, the Government announced a $303.9million boost in film production grants over four years.
You’ve Got the Cowboy will be shot in Ranfurly, the surrounding countryside and Los Angeles and involves a cast and crew of about 120 people.
As for who will play the major roles, Mr Francis was hesitant to reveal names at this stage.
“Casting is a delicate area and we will advise when cast are locked down.”
The film was “always” going to be based in the Maniototo, he said.
“The people of Central Otago are a special bunch and have been incredibly helpful.”
The economic spin-offs for the area would be immense.
“A film coming into an area like the Maniototo will touch every business. The World’s Fastest Indian touched 129 local businesses.”
You’ve Got the Cowboy is based on a story by Dunedin writer Roy Colbert.
Funding was also being sought from the Government, the New Zealand Film Commission, pre-sales and private capital, Mr Francis said.
The other two films in the three-film partnership with Sir Owen are also both being filmed in New Zealand. Inside Dope focuses on a former undercover detective and Ruptured Soul is based on a true story about a former special forces soldier.