The Official Blog for David Whittet's Motion Picture Trilogy

Location Research: Finding a Gypsy Caravan

This was the ill-fated caravan which I had originally hoped to use as the Matakite’s caravan before it was written off!

The scenes with Aroha and Matakite, the Māori soothsayer form the framework of the story and therefore the Matakite’s caravan was a vital location. I had relaxed as I had a friend with the perfect gypsy caravan, full of atmosphere and had promised I could use it for the film. I had already made test shots, having used the caravan as a location in the promotional film. Today came the devastating news from my friend that he had crashed the caravan and it was written off!

The search for another caravan was desperate. Shooting of these scenes is scheduled for next week! A colleague from the clinic at Te Karaka offered me her caravan, but it lacked the gypsy feel which was so vital for the film. Kristel Day, the actress I had just cast as Aroha, came to the rescue, telling me about the genuine soothsayer’s caravan at Morere Hot Springs, an hour’s drive from Gisborne.

So today, Mark, Rebecca and I drove down to Morere on an urgent recce. We met with Marie Lepper, who owns the Gypsy Rose caravan at Morere. The caravan had the perfect look and atmosphere I needed for the film. Marie was genuinely interested in the film and was wonderful, giving us permission to use her caravan for the filming.

Driving home from Morere, I felt a huge relief that this unexpected dilemma had been resolved so happily. But it would also present some challenges. The caravan was very small which would restrict my camera angles and be a very confined working space for the actors and myself. It was also beside a main road which could present problems with sound recording - most of the caravan scenes have dialogue. Lighting could also be problematic, the caravan being distant from any power sources. I would need to hire a generator or invest in battery operated lights. I certainly had plenty to think about over the next few days...

My relief at finding this pivotal location is immense. The caravan is so full of atmosphere and intrigue, perfect for the story, I am already composing the shots in my head...

Marie Lepper in her Gypsy Rose caravan. We are indebted to Marie for her generous help with the film.