© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Christchurch 'main character' in film adaptation of Mahy novel

Abbey Wakefield

Christchurch will be on the international stage when a movie shot in the quake-hit city premieres in a fortnight.


Wellington based directors Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie will soon be premiering the works of an iconic New Zealand writer Margaret Mahy.

'The Changeover' is a supernatural thriller set in post-earthquake Christchurch starring Timothy Spall, Melanie Lynskey, Lucy Lawless and Erana James.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel was excited about what the film meant to the city.

"It brings so much more to the city than just economic benefit. It puts Christchurch on the international stage as a great location for film makers," Dalziel said.

Director Miranda Harcourt said we never really thought about shooting anywhere else.

"The brokenness of the city and the revival and new life really fits the development of the central character Laura," she said.

The Changeover Directors.
Married couple Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie directed The Changeover. Veronica McLaughlin Photography

Miranda said she would love to film in Christchurch again.

"There is so much beauty we could not squeeze into the film. We would love to be able to reflect different aspects of the city as it continues to change," she said.

Lianne Dalziel was impressed with how Cantabrians treated the film's overseas guests.

"Lead actor Timothy Spall was blown away by the friendliness and warmth he encountered from locals on a regular basis while filming in the city," she said.

Christchurch based 'Changeover' actress Rosa Garcia Knight said it was fitting for the film to be set here.

"The directors actually said that in this film Christchurch has become a character in the story," she said.

Another Christchurch based 'Changeover' actress Lillian Fata said Cantabrians should be proud of the film.

"I'm proud of being able to create the film in a city that has gone through a lot of struggle and being able to shed some light on the negative times that have occurred," she said.

Cantabrian 15-year-old stunt double Jemima Pegg said the people of Christchurch should be excited, because the main character lives in an earthquake affected area.

The film will premiere at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch on September 25.

The Isaac Theatre Royal Christchurch
The Isaac Theatre Royal where 'The Changeover' will premiere. Bernard Spragg

Listen to a Christchurch actress in 'The Changeover'

A Christchurch teen actress in 'The Changeover'.