As Filmart closed in Hong Kong, the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and China Film Co-Production Corporation (CFCC) announced that 3D animated family film Beast of Burden had crossed the line to be approved as the first official feature film co-production between the two countries.
A partnership between New Zealand’s Huhu Studios (Huhu) and China Film Animation (CFA), Beast of Burden is the first of 17 proposed feature film collaborations between the two companies, which were flagged in a deal announced in April last year.
Written and directed by Kirby Atkins with Chinese co-writer Ge Jing, co-director Huang Jun and produced by Trevor Yaxley (Huhu) and Huang Jun (CFA), Beast of Burden is an exhilarating adventure set in both China and the USA. The film tells the story of a mythical beast named Mosley and his son Rue, who learn that only by standing up to challenges can we truly realise our potential.
Under Dave Gibson the NZFC has worked hard to encourage projects between China and NZ, with the formation of the China Club and a dedicated China Co-production Development Fund (from which Huhu has received support).
The original treaty, signed in 2010, was film-only. An extension to include television late in 2014, just ahead of a screen sector delegation to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.
NZFC CEO Dave Gibson says, “The NZFC is a strong supporter of Trevor, the team at Huhu and Beast of Burden and it’s incredibly satisfying to see such hard work and perseverance pay off. Beast of Burden is testament to the strong and fruitful creative partnership between our two countries. We’re committed to working with our good friends at CFCC to ensure that Beast of Burden is the first of many outstanding New Zealand-China feature film co-productions over the years ahead.”
CFCC President Miao Xiaotian says, “We’ve built strong and deep relationships with the NZFC and the New Zealand film industry. I’m glad to see that filmmakers from both countries have established contact and communication which is leading to films in production.”
Beast of Burden commences production in Beijing and Auckland on 20 March 2016, heading towards a provisional release date in December 2017. 50% of the work on Beast of Burden will be done in NZ. US distribution will be via The Weinstein Company. China distribution will go through China Distribution Company. Huhu, CFA and Chinese investors own the global IP rights.