Kelly Martin on producing 'This Town'

Posted Wednesday 05 Aug 2020

Kelly Martin on producing 'This Town'


Kelly Martin's first feature film is being released in 115 cinemas nationwide, and she is, understandably, frantically busy. The chief executive of South Pacific Pictures, active WIFT member and now executive film producer squeezed in a quick chat with us between meetings.

Filmed on location in Hawkes Bay, This Town is a quirky comedy filled with crazy characters. It stars director David White, Robyn Malcolm, Rima Te Wiata and Toi Whakaari graduate Alice May Connolly.

Charged but acquitted for a terrible crime, Sean (David White) is now the most infamous person in the small community of Thiston. But his attempts to move on with life are made difficult by ex-cop turned petting zoo and adventure park owner Pam (Robyn Malcolm), who's convinced that Sean is a guilty man walking free. He meets local girl Casey who believes in his innocence - but can their love survive Pam's obsessive determination to make sure justice is done?

"It's definitely an unusual film. I don't feel like I've seen this film before," Martin says.

"It's got good strong female characters - I wouldn't have wanted to do it if it hadn't had good female representation."

Martin has produced TV series but never a feature film. She became director of programming at TV3 where she oversaw local drama successes like Outrageous Fortune, and comedy hits bro'Town and 7 Days. In 2012 she left TV3 to head up South Pacific Pictures where she executive produced TV2's top rating week night drama serial, Shortland Street as well as TV One's Nothing Trivial, Step Dave for TV2, and The Brokenwood Mysteries for Prime TV.

Her first film experience was an interesting learning curve, she says.

"I was there while they were shooting most days so I got to see what different people do in different roles on set. I also had all those back end conversations about the business side of it. It was a useful immersion."

Making a film is vastly different to making a TV programme or series, she says.

"A film is not as much of a shared experience as when you make a TV programme. Also, the writer and director have to commit to the film project for an extended period of their lives, and that's something you have to prepare for."

The film was made on a budget of less than $1 million so a major challenge was to keep the project afloat, she says. "The New Zealand Film Commission was very supportive because of the issues Covid-19 brought about. We were the first decent-sized [New Zealand] film to be in cinemas locally. I'm proud of where we ended up. The job now is convincing new Zealanders to support the film!"

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