Actor Sam Neill will be putting more effort than usual into his next film role - as well as starring in Gaylene Preston's romantic thriller Perfect Strangers, Neill is also an investor through his Huntaway Productions

Neill's partners in Huntaway - the New Zealand production company that he set up in 2000 - are Australian-based comedian John Clarke and New Zealand-based lawyer Jay Cassells, who gets an associate producer credit on the film alongside producers Preston and Robin Laing.

Perfect Strangers starts principal photography on the South Island on June 27 with Rachael Blake co-starring. She won last year's Australian Film Institute Award for best supporting actress in her role as the other woman in the Australian hit Lantana.

Director of Photography is Alun Bollinger, who shot Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures and production design is by Joe Bleakley, the off-set art director on Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings.

Perfect Strangers is the second feature film, after Whale Rider, to be supported by the New Zealand Film Production Fund, established two years ago to support ambitious films by established filmmakers. Other investors include the New Zealand Film Commission, which will handle international sales, New Zealand On Air, Television New Zealand, and Gaylene Preston Productions, which is producing the film in association with Huntaway.

Cassells said Huntaway has five projects in advanced development.