The Breaker Upperers begins principal photography

Posted Monday 03 Apr 2017

Jackie and Mads smaller

Congratulations to WIFTNZers Jackie van Beek, Carthew Neal, Ainsley Gardner and Georgina Conder - their comedy feature film, The Breaker Upperers, has just begun principal photography in Auckland (March 31). And van Beek hopes it might establish a new way of working for the industry as well...

The Breaker Upperers is written and will be directed by van Beek and Madeleine Sami (above), who will also play the lead roles of Jen and Mel, a pair of cynical misfits who earn a living by breaking up unhappy couples for cash. Australian comedian Celia Pacquola joins the cast, along with Kiwi favourites including Rima Te Wiata, Cohen Holloway and Nic Sampson. This feature also marks the return to the big screen of actor James Rolleston, who joins the cast playing a young man desperately in need of the pair's services to break up with his overbearing girlfriend Sepa (played by newcomer Ana Scotney).

Sami and van Beek are looking forward to shooting the feature, which at its core tells the story of two woman working out life's many twists and turns, and choosing their own path rather than one prescribed to them. 

"When Jackie came to me with this premise, I loved it," says Sami. "After years of workshops, raising kids (Jackie not me), maintaining long-distance relationships (me not Jackie) and hours of writing in cafes all over Auckland, it's exciting to have the opportunity to bring this story to life with the help of our talented cast and crew."

"After being friends for so long, Madeleine and I thought it might be time to convince the world to let us co-write, co-direct and co-star in our own movie. And now we have an amazing team of people supporting us to do just that!" adds van Beek. "Most of our key cast and crew are women, which feels exciting. And many of our heads of department are job-sharing in order to fulfill their filmmaking ambitions whilst also raising families. If this film helps to establish this model as a popular way of working, I'll be extremely happy."

The Breaker Upperers will be produced by Carthew Neal (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Tickled), Ainsley Gardner (Boy, Eagle v Shark) and Georgina Conder (Free in Deed, Consent) under the Piki and Miss Conception Films banner. Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do In The Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) is acting as executive producer.

"I'm so happy that our second Piki film is going into production," says Waititi. "Madeleine and Jackie are two of the smartest and funniest people I know and I can't wait to see what they do with this hilarious script. Women are hugely under-represented in the film industry so I'm very proud that two of our best comedians, who just happen to be women, are getting to make their movie. I'm also particularly over the moon that we get to see James Rolleston in front of the camera again."

The Breaker Upperers will be made with investment by The New Zealand Film Commission, Wallace Productions and Department of Post. The film will be distributed in New Zealand by Madman Entertainment and Piki, and in Australia by Madman Entertainment in 2018.

Follow the film's progress on Facebook.