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Canterbury Sees Big Picture

Local businesses, central and local government and even a hospital aided Canterbury’s status as an international film-friendly location standing in for five US states for Amazon Studio’s latest NZ-based production premiering tomorrow on Amazon Prime.

Filmed in Ōtautahi Christchurch, the Mackenzie district, and locations around Auckland in winter 2021, Don’t Make Me Go is a family road trip drama of a father’s last chance to reconcile with his daughter on a road trip from Southern California through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

Executive Producer Matt Noonan (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Only Cloud Knows) of Curious Film called Christchurch a “can do” place for creatives.

The thing that impressed me most about filming in Ōtautahi was the unity of the residents, business community, mana whenua and council in support of our project and their collective ambition to make the city a great place to live and work. Canterbury is a ‘can do’ place,”

Executive Producer - Matt Noonan

“The thing that impressed me most about filming in Ōtautahi was the unity of the residents, business community, mana whenua and council in support of our project and their collective ambition to make the city a great place to live and work. Canterbury is a ‘can do’ place,” said Noonan. 

More than 20 New Zealand cast, 365 crew and 800 extras were employed on the film with approximately $1.2 million dollars spent on the production locally in Canterbury. 

Executive Producer Eddie Rubin said they had an amazing locations team who found exactly what they needed.  

“New Zealand may be small, but their diversity of locations is enormous. All within 30 minutes of each other we were able to close an entire freeway, shoot in a casino, a hospital, a beach and more. Working with cities such as Christchurch was an absolute pleasure. The entire city made working in heavily populated areas a breeze.” 

From Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs to Aoraki, Omarama and the Waitaki Bridge, Waitaha Canterbury is a fantastic and diverse region offering some of the most beautiful locations in the world. I’m really looking forward to returning with more projects and encouraging people to explore the whole region.” 

Executive Producer - Matt Noonan

Noonan added, “From Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs to Aoraki, Omarama and the Waitaki Bridge, Waitaha Canterbury is a fantastic and diverse region offering some of the most beautiful locations in the world. I’m really looking forward to returning with more projects and encouraging people to explore the whole region.” 

Every road trip story needs landscapes and highways to tell its tale. Location Manager Clayton Tikao saw the road and driving elements essential to the production being greenlit. 

"Closing highways and whole blocks in central Christchurch were complex requests and the assistance we received from Screen CanterburyNZ, gaining support from the various arms of Christchurch City Council and Waka Kotahi was superb.  There were plenty of challenges especially to change the road signs around and make it look like Los Angeles,” said Tikao 

NZ Transport Agency Maintenance & Operations Manager Simon Harty said the new motorways provided opportunities to simulate US freeways with only minor detours onto the old State highways.  

“Waka Kotahi worked with key stakeholders to explore the potential to close sections of motorway on the basis it would bring economic benefits to the region. Motorway closures during daylight hours are highly unusual in New Zealand, however we identified locations and timeslots that worked for the film schedule and presented minimal inconvenience to road users.” 

Christchurch Casino opened its door to the production, and Deputy Executive Brett Anderson said he welcomes enquiries from filmmakers and productions looking to record on the gaming floor.  

“Filming Don’t Make Me Go was one of the first films we welcomed into our casino. It was a collective effort to make this happen and we happily support the filmmakers wanting to use our casino.” 

Screen CanterburyNZ Manager Petrina D’Rozario praised Canterbury and Christchurch’s film-friendly approach to movie makers, saying Canterbury pulled off a trifecta filming in incredibly difficult locations like the freeway, hospital, and casino. 

We’re incredibly proud and encouraged by locations and venues willingness to open their doors to overseas productions. Establishing Canterbury’s highly desirable film locations relies on locals opening their doors to these initiatives and supporting crews in the often-disruptive operations,” 

Screen CanterburyNZ Manager - Petrina D’Rozario

“We’re incredibly proud and encouraged by locations and venues willingness to open their doors to overseas productions. Establishing Canterbury’s highly desirable film locations relies on locals opening their doors to these initiatives and supporting crews in the often-disruptive operations,” she said. 

The New Zealand Film Commission adds Don’t Make Me Go showcases the diversity and accessibility of New Zealand locations, the ease of filming here and our highly skilled crew. 

The production is supported by the Government-backed Screen Production Grant.

For More Information Contact

Petrina Head Shot
Petrina D’Rozario
Screen CanterburyNZ Manager
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