Kāpiti Coast flings doors open to ‘Poppy’

A still from the movie ‘Poppy’ where Poppy played by Libby Hunsdale high-fives Dave played by Ari Boyland.

‘Poppy’ is the third production from New Zealand writer/director Linda Niccol set in Kāpiti. Linda moved back to the area in 1999 and says living there has inspired many of the stories she’s brought to life.

‘Poppy’ is a film about a young woman with Down Syndrome, who refuses to let her disability define her and decides to take control of her life. Most of the film was shot on the stunning Kāpiti Coast, located less than an hour’s drive from Wellington city.

The film showcases incredibly diverse locations, from the local pub and tenpin bowling alley to the natural wonder of Kapiti Island. Much of it would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and backing from local business owners and the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Locals ready to help out

“We just got so much support from the community, from the council and from Screen Wellington.”

Writing to location meant Linda could involve many small businesses that make up the heart of the Kāpiti Coast. ‘Poppy’ features Southward Car Museum, Life Pharmacy, Umu Bar, Marine Parade Deli and the same garage used in ‘Secondhand Wedding’.

Businesses were happy to open their doors and offer up locations. The Kāpiti Coast District Council alongside Screen Wellington made it easy to scout and get permits for all types of locations around the area.

“All the businesses are there and everyone’s willing to help and that’s not just from the actual locations, it’s the actual people in the area because you get to know people out here. They all know you they know what you’re doing so they will help.”

The community buy-in and support also helped ‘Poppy’ become the first feature film in the world to get back to production after the initial Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide.

Linda says it was heartening, and a testament to a dedicated production team, helpful locals, and New Zealand’s film-friendly approach.

“It’s a land of contrasts here, so you’ve got a choice of the kind of story you want to tell.”

Linda Niccol

From industrial to idyllic

“It’s a land of contrasts here so, you’ve got a choice of the kind of story you want to tell.”

Linda says living in Kāpiti made her want to set her stories there. The film features some incredible natural locations like Raumati Beach, but that’s not all the area has to offer.

“Everything from industrial to idyllic you’ll find in Kāpiti as a location. You can be at the beach and then five minutes later you can be in an industrial area and five minutes after that you can be in a tenpin bowling alley.”

When they weren’t filming, many of the crew were discovering the region for themselves. Eventually filming their own stories on the things they never knew they could find in Kāpiti, she says.

The right crew and talent

You can find almost everything you need for film production in Kāpiti, including a range of technical experts and talent, Linda says.

Veteran, highly-skilled production crew live and work in the area and love being able to be home before the sun sets.

There are also music studios, a good pool of talent to draw from as far as extras and supporting actors go, and a range of businesses to work with to get the job done.

“It’s got pretty much everything but in a more confined space, so the ‘time is money thing’ does contribute to a less stressful production,” she says.