As someone who has spent more than a decade as a television presenter, you would expect Rural TV founder and director Tony Glynn to be totally at ease with media interviews.
But turn the spotlight on this man, who has spent most of his life on farms, and he becomes a stereotypical southern man, as modest as the farmhand character he played in Jane Campion’s Western The Power of the Dog
Mr Glynn, whose grew up in Western Southland on a sheep and beef property and now farms a little over 40ha just south of Luggate, was one of 290 extras in the film, which opens in New Zealand cinemas today, including to at least two sold-out audiences in Central Otago.
Mr Glynn downplayed the chance he had to rub shoulders with Campion and the stars of the new movie, in which the award-winning director used the sparse, rugged plains and rocky mountains of Central Otago as stand-ins for the wildness of rural Montana.
Campion was fantastic to work with and always friendly to everyone, as were other Hollywood A-listers Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, Mr Glynn said.
He was “too scared to say gidday” when he sat beside Dunst but did not realise who Cumberbatch was when they first met.
“I spoke to him but I didn’t realise that he was the boss. I didn’t know that he was the main character.”
“We were all dressed up in hobo gear, and then we started filming and I thought, ‘S…! He’s the chief,” Mr Glynn said.
Campion initially planned to make the film in Montana, or somewhere similar in the US or Canada, but decided the sparsely populated, grassy plains and rocky mountains of Central Otago were a remarkable match for Montana.
Campion said while on location search she was taken to a property near the Hawkdun Ranges area in Central Otago with which she fell in love.
“It’s so remote and it’s 360-degrees empty with an amazing hill range behind it that felt very atmospheric,” she said.
She also chose her home country for the highly experienced crew available.
“Ultimately, shooting in New Zealand wasn’t a compromise choice for us.”
Local businesses also benefited from the 17 weeks of pre-production and 50 days of filming in Central Otago, Dunedin, Oamaru and Auckland. The New Zealand Film Commission reports that the production spent about $2.4million on accommodation nationally, with houses, hotels and motels booked across across Clyde, Cromwell, Alexandra, Gimmerburn, Waipiata, Lauder, Becks, Ranfurly, Naseby, Omakau, Ophir, Oturehua, Wedderburn, St Bathans, Dunedin and Oamaru.
The Royal Hotel in Naseby was one beneficiary of those stays. Co-owner Jan Rutherford said the cast and crew staying patronised all the local businesses.
“It gave us a real buzz and helped the community during the shoulder season,” she said.
Local cinemas are hoping that buzz will continue with audience members keen to see their region shown off in its sparse and rugged beauty.
Mr Glynn said he planned to be among that group, and would be watching to see how much of his work as an extra got past the editing room.