Written by on Oct 22, 2013. Posted in On Location

Michael Fassbender western Slow West starts filming in New Zealand

Actor Michael Fassbender is filming new western Slow West on location in New Zealand, doubling the country for 19th Century Colorado. Shooting is taking place in the town of Twizel in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island.

Slow West is being produced by London-based See-Saw Films: “Set at the end of the 19th Century, Slow West follows the story of 17-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as he journeys across the American Frontier in search of the woman he loves, accompanied by a mysterious traveller named Silas (Michael Fassbender)."

“The film was developed by Film4 and is co-financed by Film4, the British Film Institute, the New Zealand Film Commission and Fulcrum Media Finance. This is the second collaboration between Film4, the BFI and John Maclean following the BAFTA-winning Pitch Black Heist. Set in Colorado and the Scottish highlands, Slow West is filming on location in New Zealand and Scotland," the company added.

The Coen Brothers proved Westerns can still be lucrative when they scored a massive hit with their True Grit remake.

The Canterbury region of South Island lies against the backdrop of New Zealand’s Southern Alps mountain range, which makes the location a convincing double for Colorado. Shooting in New Zealand gives the production easy access to an experienced crew base, while the country also offers a globally competitive filming incentive programme.

Hollywood has been experimenting with bringing the Western back to mainstream audiences over the past couple of years. The Coen Brothers proved the genre can still be lucrative when they scored a massive hit with their True Grit remake (right) in 2010, but Disney’s big-budget adaptation of The Lone Ranger was a high-profile and costly failure this summer.

New Mexico has been the favoured filming location for US-made Westerns because of its combination of easily-accessible wilderness locations, strong crew base and filming incentive rebate of up to 30%. Colorado offers a 20% cash rebate programme and in fact hosted scenes for The Lone Ranger, but the state lacks filmmaking infrastructure and is less accessible from outside the US.

The Almeria region of Spain has historically been a popular European alternative for Western movies, but New Zealand now offers stronger filming incentive support.


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