The Z-Nail gangA film about community, made by community.

A class of kids from Z nails

The feature film “The Z-Nail Gang” which was inspired by a community in the Coromandel that came together to fight for what they believed in, recently won Trustpower Supreme Community Award for its far-reaching impacts into the community of the Western Bay of Plenty.

The Z-Nail Gang had its world premiere in the community that supported it, Te Puke, on the 31 July 2014 and was then released around NZ during the months of Aug and Sept 2014.

Not only was the film about a community coming together, it was also made by a community coming together, volunteering their talents, resources and creativity towards a shared vision.

The hope is that this film will inspire other communities to discover and value their gold within. The production of The Z-Nail Gang has shown how communities can pull together and mobilize creative momentum that both empowers and unites.

Kylie DellaBarca Steel, the films producer, has been running workshops on “Asset Based Community Development” for the last three years with short- term Pacific RSE migrants through her charitable trust Fruit of the Pacific.

The workshops have been focused on the Pacific migrants identifying assets and resources in their home countries and developing plans to utilize them for community growth and empowerment. Having facilitated the implementation of a nation-wide oral health awareness programme in Vanuatu using this model, Kylie was keen to put the theory to practice in her own community. Inspired by the feature film script her husband and director Anton Steel had written about community, together they endeavored to marry feature film making with a community empowerment project.

Over the period of pre-production and production The Z-Nail Gang had over 400 individuals and organization giving their time and resources for free.

The film itself is not a typical low budget NZ feature film, but a hugely ambitious script which boasts of an ensemble cast of 10 key actors, helicopters, drill rigs, 20+ locations, stunt sequences, road blocks and hundreds of extras. With no funding to get the ball rolling, creativity, problem solving and a decisive choice to value contributions small or large, no matter how unlikely the package, were all characteristics needed as the team rallied this kind of support in the 3 months of pre-production.

The majority of key crew were local volunteers, with only a few technical roles being filled by out-of-town film professionals. Most key actors were cast from Auckland and housed beach front at Pukehina by generous home owners. Supporting and extras roles were filled by local people including the groups such as the Red Hats of Pukehina, the Highly Strung Ukelele Club and a class of kids and their parents from Pongakawa Primary.

The Wardrobe department was fitted out by tapping into the local op shops (Anglican, Methodist & Salvation Army) who provided access to all their stores of clothes, while Whakatane ITM supplied all the building resources for the Art Department.

The production catered for over 60 people every day over the 20 days of filming – and food and drink was generously provided by New World, Maketu Pies and Phoenix Organics amongst others and cooked by numerous local organizations including Rotary Club of Maketu, the Scouts, Maketu Ongatoro Wetlands Society, Tapuika Iwi Authority, Z Service stations and many more.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the filming was the value placed on learning and mentoring as part of the film crews’ kaupapa. 12 year old Rose McMahon was invited to come along as their key stills photographer and a team of children from Pongakawa Schools Film and Media Club filmed the action for behind the scenes and the making of features on the DVD.

What results from this wealth of diverse inputs, is a dynamic, highly resourced, inspirational film.

Community groups are now booking private screenings of the film and it will become available on DVD and Video on Demand in 2015 after it has been submitted to international film festivals.

It is Kylie’s hope that communities around NZ can be inspired by what can be achieved by focusing on the resources, the assets and the strengths and talents found within a community and apply this not just to feature film making, but to any project that sees people coming together identifying, building on and celebrating collective strength.

Share this