Kiwi pic producer exits film for TV

Feature films too difficult to get started, Scholes sez

AUKLAND — New Zealand’s most successful producer, Robin Scholes, is getting out of feature films to concentrate on quicker-turnaround projects for the small screen.

Scholes was the driving force behind “Once Were Warriors,” the 1994 urban drama that is New Zealand’s most successful film, both domestically and internationally. Her second feature, “Broken English,” is among the top 10 local releases at the B.O., and she exec produced Christine Jeffs’ “Rain,” which premiered this year at Cannes.

As preem nears

Her decision comes on the eve of the release of her latest picture, “Crooked Earth,” a drama about feuding brothers, which has been dubbed a Maori Western.

“Earth,” a co-production with Pandora Films (now owned by Gaylord) had a $2.5 million budget — large by local standards — and it took Scholes six years to put the financing together and complete production. The film, directed by Sam Pillsbury (“Free Willy 3,” “Morgan’s Ferry”) bows Aug. 23 in New Zealand, ahead of international distribution, but Scholes says the feature will be her last.

“(Feature films) are too difficult to get up and running,” she said. “It’s hard to justify doing it as a business. I like working on projects that have a chance of creating ongoing employment for people in the industry.”

New company on tube

Scholes was one of the founding partners of local television production house Communicado, which was taken over in March by Australian production company Screentime and now trades as Screentime Communicado. The company specializes in television magazine series, and Scholes said the decision to focus on small-screen projects was “a logical outcome” of the merger.

“You cannot be diverse. To do feature films well, you have to concentrate on them — and the rest suffers.”

Scholes intends to focus on Screentime Communicado’s TV output, which includes reality shows, drama and talkshows.