The Hutt News - New Tomorrow for TV’s Cloud 9
March 15th 2005 : By Simon Edwards
TV PRODUCTION company Cloud 9 is ramping up its Hutt unit again in preparation for a sequel to its international hit The Tribe.
Chief executive Raymond Thompson says casting for The New Tomorrow is underway, and if everything pans out there will be 100 local jobs created.
Headlines in main media in 2003 that Cloud 9 had “quit” New Zealand for a new base in Queensland weren’t right, says Mr Thompson, who was speaking to the Hutt News last week from his vineyard Tirohana in the Wairarapa.
Angry at TVNZ’s alleged “arrogant and monopolistic” attitude, and its failure to pick up Cloud 9 programmes that have screened around the world, Mr Thompson established a movie and animation division DreamCloud just outside Brisbane two years ago. It’s working on a live action and animation production Penny Drew, in which a young girl with a magic pen draws things which come to life. “She draws herself and that caricature becomes her nemisis,” Thompson says. Shooting will happen in NZ and Australia.
Another live action production in tandem with Los Angeles connections is Scoobs (a scuba diving family). Cloud 9’s website says it will be shot in Australasia.
Mr Thompson says Cloud 9 did not quit the Hutt. It kept a skeleton staff and a distribution and post-production presence in the Fairway Drive building at Avalon.
The New Tomorrow will be a “younger, gentler” sequel to the 260-episode The Tribe. “It will involve some of the baby characters in the original series. It’s still the same world, without adults, but 10 years on.”
The Tribe, mostly shot in the Wellington region, was picked up in dozens of countries around the world and in some places developed a cult following amongst teenagers. “We could have another five years’ worth of it, if (The New Tomorrow) takes the same route,” Mr Thompson says.
As well as the vineyard near Martinborough, which is producing pinot noir and chardonnay, Mr Thompson says he also owns a sheep station.
“(Cloud 9) had to expand out because we trade globally but we’re still in New Zealand. I love this country.”
The Wairarapa is a perfect “bolt-hole”, Mr Thompson says, noting that Kiwi movie mogul Peter Jackson agrees. “I can sit on the back of a tractor and ponder the meaning of life. I spend as much time as I can here.
“Life at four miles per hour is a nice contrast to the crazy pressure of the industry.”
And there may be a place for the “breathtakingly beautiful” Wairarapa setting in another venture Mr Thompson is working on. The writer for the very successful BBC production Howard’s Way, Thompson says he’s currently working on scripts for a family drama set in a vineyard – a sort of New Zealand take on the Aussie series McLeod’s Daughters.
According to the Cloud 9 website, pre-production of The New Tomorrow starts on 21 March and principal photography in April. The Tribe sequel will be available for transmission around October 2005, when it is due to air on Channel Five in the UK and Network Seven in Australia.
Mr Thompson says locals interested in casting opportunities should phone Karen Alexander on 920-9400 or go to www.entercloud9.com.