Films of all shapesand sizes are now underway in New Zealand and, after a considerable productiondrought, in Australia - and both countries are awash with internationallyrenowned acting talent.

In Australia, HeathLedger and Geoffrey Rush are to star in Candy,and Cate Blanchett is the focus of LittleFish, which also stars Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving. Both films are accessingfunds from Film Finance Corporation Australia, as well as other financiers.Meanwhile, Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, David Wenham and Emily Watsonare braving the heat of outback Australia for the UK co-production, The Proposition.

If it really isshooting in Australia, there will be more stars arriving for Superman, which has Bryan Singer at thehelm. Warner Bros is staying tight-lipped but some people swear it has thego-ahead to shoot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney.

Other than talk ofNicolas Cage, no cast list is yet available for the Columbia PicturesEntertainment comic book adaptation GhostRider. In fact, the only official announcement has come from the VictorianGovernment, relieved that the brand new Melbourne facility, Central CityStudios, has a firm booking.

Service companiesare awaiting news from Paramount Pictures on the CGI/animatronic/live-actionremake of the children's classic Charlotte'sWebb to be directed by Gary Winick, who has scouted both countries.

New Zealand iscurrently hosting Samantha Morton and Kiefer Sutherland, on the revived River Queen, Naomi Watts, Jack Black andAdrien Brody are the leads on King Kong,and the country will shortly be welcoming Anthony Hopkins for the second leg ofthe World's Fastest Indian.

At the other end ofthe spectrum, but without major cast, are several low-budget pictures. Thedigital feature Luella Miller is goingahead with the assistance of Creative New Zealand's Screen InnovationProduction Fund. Director/co-writer Dane Giraud and producer Robert Rowe werein the creative team behind The WaitingPlace, which won the inaugural best digital feature category at the NZ FilmAwards in 2001.

Puppy is also a low-budget film, but the budget assembled is big enough toshoot on 35mm widescreen, partly because it got its hands on a slice of theA$500,000 Film Victoria puts aside each year to encourage filming in regionalareas of the state rather than in the capital of Melbourne.

Another newlyemerged film is the privately financed SafetyIn Numbers, co-directed by David Douglas from the UK and Kelvin Crumplin,owner of the Sydney-based laboratory Movielab, and described by Douglas as ahigh concept psychological thriller.

For full Australia & New Zealand production listings, click HERE