NZ On Air Bankrolls Six Dramas for ‘Nigh On $10M UPDATED

Within a few days of confirmation of the latest NZ drama series to get the axe, The Almighty Johnsons, NZ On Air has announced three HD drama commissions, although not all will air here in HD.

It is bankrolling six telemovies to the tune of nearly $10 million.

Two of the productions are stand-alone true-life dramatisations for TV One, where they’ll air in HD, and the other four are murder mysteries destined for SD transmission on Prime.

Given the low ratings for this year’s Almighty Johnsons, Nothing Trivial, Go Girls, The Blue Rose and Harry, don’t be surprised if NZOA and the networks pull back from green lighting new drama series and instead focus on one-offs or telemovie strands like South Pacific Pictures’ Riverstone Mysteries initiative.

Here’s the full press release:

Three different production houses have won NZ On Air funding for significant new drama projects.  Six telefeatures will join NZ On Air’s slate of short and longer-run series currently in production.

A dramatisation of the intriguing story of the yacht Rose Noelle, which went missing and drifted for 119 days before smashing onto rocks at Great Barrier Island, will tell the story of the crew’s survival. Abandoned is a two-hour feature for TV One produced by James Heyward (Shackleton’s Captain).

A second telefeature for TV One, How To Murder Your Wife, is a dark comedy based on a real life case in 1970’s Wellington. The story promises to capture a colourful side of the capital city four decades ago. Production company Screentime New Zealand made Siege and Underbelly NZ.

NZ On Air is also very pleased to fund a genre not made locally for some time, the murder mystery. Screening on Prime, Riverstone Mysteries, made by South Pacific Pictures, comprises four two-hour telefeatures shot together to ensure a highly cost-effective investment.

“NZ On Air is a passionate supporter of local drama,” said chief executive Jane Wrightson. “We’ve been so proud of the quality achieved this year and have high hopes that these new projects will find enthusiastic audiences,” she said.

Riverstone Mysteries will be funded for up to $2.6 million while Abandoned has an NZOA stake of $4.312 million and How to Murder Your Wife, $2.837 million.

Since posting this, Prime has issued this release:

Prime Television is excited to confirm it has commissioned a brand new New Zealand drama series.

The Riverstone Mysteries*comprises four two-hour murder mystery stories set in a seemingly quiet country town where the town’s newest resident, Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd, finds that murder lurks in even the most homely location.

Head of Prime Karen Bieleski says the series will be produced by South Pacific Pictures and shot on location in New Zealand.

“Prime has seen a real opportunity to reinvigorate the local television drama genre and we are delighted to have the support of New Zealand On Air for this suspenseful and humorous series.”

“Prime viewers love a good murder mystery and we know they will appreciate the clever scripts which will allow us to celebrate some of this country’s amazing character actors.  It is a very exciting project and I personally am very much looking forward to seeing the many months of hard work that have already been spent developing The Riverstone Mysteries come to fruition.”

This addition to the free-to-air channel’s local production slate adds further depth to an already exciting local line up, says channel manager Kathy Wright.

“We have worked hard to seek out and invest in local projects that we know our audience will love and it’s brilliant to add a further local drama to our 2014 programming schedule.

“Prime has had much success with local documentary specials and series, with a strong line-up for next year and the addition of The Riverstone Mysteries really rounds out our schedule,” she said.

rtin, South Pacific Pictures chief executive Kelly Martin says the production team is also delighted.

“Prime had a clear vision for the sort of local production they wanted to see in their 2014 schedule. We are thrilled to have been able to come up with the right project for them and are looking forward to going into production on The Riverstone Mysteries next year.”

The Riverstone Mysteries has received funding assistance from New Zealand On Air.

 *The Riverstone Mysteries is a working title.

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4 Responses to “NZ On Air Bankrolls Six Dramas for ‘Nigh On $10M UPDATED”

  1. Why does the taxpayer continually fund these programs that when get shown get loaded up with advertising?

  2. Agreed. Cutting this nonsense and all the reality shows would go some way towards establishing a true ad-free public broadcaster a la BBC.

  3. I wouldn’t say that BBC TV is all ad free. I downloaded the latest Time Team special the other week and it still contained the ads. There were three ad breaks in the hour, each one being about six minutes long.

  4. Except Time Team is broadcast on Channel Four and not the BBC. Channel Four (simplifying) is, like TVNZ, reliant on commercial revenue.

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