Storm Over Narnia Shoot
The New Zealand Herald reports that Prince Caspian filming in the Cathedral Cove area of Hahei has brought about mixed reactions from locals and tourists. You can read NarniaWeb’s transcription of the article below. Click on the picture of the Cair Paravel ruins set to see a larger version. Thanks very much to Alex for sending us the article scans!
Storm over Narnia Shoot
Coromandel locals are frustrated that conservation officials gave producers of the latest Narnia film exclusive access to a popular beach, shutting out hundreds of tourists.
For the past two weeks, Los Angeles film company Wimbleweather has been shooting open scenes for the second CS Lewis adaptation, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, in parts of Hahei, 56km north of Whangamata.
The production company applied to the Department of Conservation to close Cathedral Cove — the main tourist attraction in Hahei — for two days last week. Approval was given and a notice sent to residents and business owners: “Cathedral Cove will be closed … for safety reasons associated with operational activities including heavy lift helicopter and filming activity.”
Andy Williams, owner of Hahei ice cream and pizza shop Leb Parlour, said that while he enjoyed getting late-night orders of 20 pizzas from the film’s crew, the closure of Cathedral Cove had adversely affected the town’s trading. “It is at the height of European tourist time, and the town was dead when they were up filming there,” Williams said.
Hahei General Store owner Pauline Verran said that although they brought “lots of Red Bull, cigarettes and phone cards”, the movie makers brought their own chefs and supplies to the town, rather than supporting locals. Verran said tourists who traveled to the region specifically to see the spectacular Cathedral Cove were turned away. “People look at it on the internet and come here to see the cove. An American couple told me it was on the most beautiful places in the world list, but they couldn’t go there.”
But Wendy Helms and Russ Cochrane, operators of Cathedral Cove Dive and Snorkel which has the town’s sole fuel pump, are disappointed to see the back of the fantasy-film makers with seemingly “bottomless budgets”. The crew spent $10,000 on fuel while they were in town, doubling the business’s normal sales figures.
Ernie Malik, spokesman for Wimbleweather, which is named after a fairytale giant, said the company had no knowledge of Hahei vendors who were inconvenienced due to filming, but when asked if the producers were apologetic, he said: “If I say no, I’m going to sound like an ogre.”
Harukai area manager for DOC John Gaukrodger told the Herald on Sunday that the decision to restrict public access to Cathedral Cove for a period of two days was made with an eye on the bigger picture. “It is unfortunate that some people missed out, but if we think longer term, there could well be some benefits [for the region]. The cove was promoted to us as an ideal spot [by the producers].”
Gaukrodger said the Californian production company removed graffiti from the rock faces at the cove before filming commenced – “We would never have done it ourselves,” he laughed.
The company will be billed for using the beach. Locals hope the money will be used to help restore two hectares of native bush which was destroyed in a fire last month.
In Prince Caspian, directed by New Zealander Andrew Adamson, the four Pevensie children return to Narnia, to find that hundreds of years have passed since they ruled there, and the evil King Miraz is in charge. With a heroic mouse and the exiled heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, they set out to overthrow the king, once again with Aslan’s help. The set for the ruins of their old castle, Cair Paravel, has been built on a peninsula adjacent to Hahei. The large crew is now filming on the west coast of the South Island.