Director Declan Wong has completed his long-awaited film about Twizel – he is just waiting for the premiere to be arranged.
Mr Wong has been working on the film for nearly two years, and admits it has taken longer than everyone expected.
"It's sort of stretched out from what was the original idea of the film, which was basically just to promote Twizel," he said.
"The more I delved into the town's history, the more I got interested in it."
The film is a project of the Twizel District Promotions Association. More than $100,000 has been raised towards the film, largely through community grants and fundraising.
Mr Wong said it was only this week that he had finished off the final editing and sound mixing for the film.
"We'll be talking over the next couple of weeks about a premiere, it's been such an effort that I'm looking forward to it being released," he said.
Mr Wong said most of the film would focus on the hydro development, and the locals' subsequent fight to protect the town after the Government initially threatened to decommission it. Over the last few weeks, he has been able to source a lot of archival material from Opus Consultants.
"I've talked to a wide range of people who were involved in the development, particularly (chief engineer for the Upper Waitaki project) Max Smith, who is still razor-sharp," he said.
"That sort of project could not have been done now. They shifted something close to four million cubic metres of soil in one four-month period," he said.
"That sort of speed and scale of work could only happen when everyone answered to one department– the Ministry of Works.
"These days, you would have to get geologists to assess the area, and workers certainly wouldn't be allowed to work 15-hour days week-in, week-out."
As well as documenting the hydro development, Mr Wong said the film would also focus on the history of farming in the region, as well as pre-European settlement days.
"I'm amazed at how much the land use has changed in the town, even in the last decade or so," he said.
"If I had the opportunity, I would really like to make a film all about dairying in Twizel. There are some really strong views about it from both sides, particularly from those older farming families who have worked the land for generations, while ecologists are concerned about the long-term effects on the environment."
There were aspects that Mr Wong found difficult, particularly choosing what aspects not to leave in, but ultimately, he said he was satisfied with the finished film.
"When I showed parts to my kids, they told me they had no idea how interesting the town's story was. So that's been a good test of how it's gone," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2011