© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

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.

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

The movie, based on a book by Christchurch writer Margaret Mahy, premieres at the Theatre Royal at the end of this month. 

The movie is directed by husband and wife duo Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said put the city in the spotlight.

"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 they never thought about shooting anywhere other than Christchurch.

"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

Harcourt 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.

Dalziel said Cantabrians were generous the film's stars and crew.

"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.

Local 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.

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'.