The Dominion Post : Cloud 9 Returns With New Shows, 100 Jobs
March 26th 2005 : By Tom Cardy
Television production company Cloud 9, which abandoned New Zealand for Queensland two years ago, is back with the promise of more than 100 new jobs when it begins shooting a programme next month.
Chief executive Raymond Thompson said The New Tomorrow would be a sequel to popular children's show The Tribe.
The $6.5 million, 26-part series is funded by Australia's Seven Network and Britain's Channel 5.
The company is also developing a family saga similar to McLeod's Daughters, which may be set on a Wairarapa vineyard.
Mr Thompson said The New Tomorrow would employ about 100 crew. Filming in Lower Hutt would run for four months, with a further two months of post-production work.
Cloud 9 filmed five series of The Tribe at its Lower Hutt studios, as well as other shows. But in 2003 Mr Thompson moved to Brisbane after failing to resolve a long-standing row with Television New Zealand over the times it screened his shows.
A skeleton staff remained at the Lower Hutt studios.
In Brisbane, Cloud 9 received support from the Queensland Government.
British-born Mr Thompson, whose writing credits include the BBC series Howard's Way, said the main reason The New Tomorrow was being filmed in Lower Hutt and not Brisbane was that he was spending a lot of time in Wellington and at a Martinborough vineyard he had bought.
"I never quit New Zealand, but what I did, as everybody else has to do in this business, is trade globally because it's a global business. I wasn't having very much luck with TVNZ."
Some staff were already working on The New Tomorrow, including cast auditions. It had the potential to become a long-running series, Mr Thompson said.
Cloud 9 in Brisbane had set up a company, Dreamcloud, to produce computer-animated children's shows. The first, for preschoolers, was Roly in the Country with Blue. Another, Penny Drew, a mix of live action and animation, was also planned.
Mr Thompson said he still wanted to expand the company's Australian business.
Cloud 9 had also received overseas finance to develop a drama show set in a New Zealand vineyard. "There's always room for a good family saga. I have a passion for wine and I wanted to do something about the wine business. I've been in Wairarapa for a while writing and developing."
He would not rule out offering it to TVNZ or TV3.
It still had to be decided where the show would be set, but Wairarapa was possible. He had also checked locations in Nelson and Marlborough.
"My heart is to do it in Wairarapa, but I've got to do what works best for the series. If it works and it ran like Howard's Way then it will run for six years. It's good for the industry and for the country."