EXCLUSIVE: New Zealand producer, who worked with See-Saw on Slow West [pictured], to “supercharge” Australian office.

New Zealand producer Rachel Gardner will move to Australia to join the Sydney office of See-Saw Films from July 1, increasing the British/Australian outfit’s in-house film and television capability and capacity.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to work with producers of the calibre of Emile (Sherman) and Iain (Canning) and the associated talent they attract,” she told Screendaily.

“See-Saw is one of the most successful independent production companies worldwide and it has an impressive track record of quality films, achieved in a short space of time, and I’m thrilled to be joining them.”

Gardner has been running great Southern Television in Auckland with business partner Philip Smith. Her feature credits are Apron Strings and Show of Hands.

“We wanted someone we would enjoy working with and who has the energy and drive to do the number of projects we do, and we have had a fantastic experience working with Rachel on Slow West,” said Sherman. He is the Sydney-based principal and Canning is in London.

“She will supercharge our Australian activity… New Zealand too is a key part of our business.”

The move recognises the importance Australia plays in most See-Saw projects and not just those that are “totally Australian” such as Tracks or official co-productions such as Life, Sherman said.

Australian Justin Kurzel is directing the English film Macbeth, for example, and the NZ/UK film Slow West and the series Top Of The Lake were filmed in New Zealand – Scotland too in the case of Slow West – but handled through the Australian office.

At one stage setting up Oscar best film winner The King’s Speech as an Australian co-production was considered because English director Tom Hooper has an Australian passport.

See-Saw is gearing up to shoot Lion, an adaptation of Saroo Brierly’s autobiographical book A Long Way Home, in India and Australia. Two actors will play the lead; most likely a young Indian of about five years of age and a Western actor of Indian origin of about 30 years of age. 

The company is also financing a film based around the London Marathon.

“See-Saw has been a fortuitous experiment,” said Sherman. “Iain and I wanted to work together and decided ‘let’s see how it goes’ but we didn’t realise how much one plus one would equal three in terms of being in two countries and having access to a bigger pool of talent and finance.”

Canning and Sherman constantly refer to the importance of strong partnerships and both have to agree on a project for it to go forward.

“Financing is tricky but particularly tricky if you don’t have the right projects so we spend most of our time focussed on the projects not the finance”

See-Saw has 12 permanent people, including the two principals and heads of business affairs and heads of production in both offices.

Currently in post in London are Slow WestLife and Macbeth. That said director Anton Corbijn is in Berlin working on the picture edit on Life and the visual effects work is taking place in – you guessed it – Australia.