‘Once Were Warriors’ Team Crowdfund Finance for New Film ‘The Patriarch’

It’s very rare that we’ll feature a crowdfunding project on V&F, occasionally we’ll see a cool gear item and do a story on that. Or a worthy project, like the recent AV Club Production Slate‘s Kickstarter campaign. It’s been our policy to not feature crowdfunding film projects, largely because as filmmakers (and almost all of the V&F staff are filmmakers), we ALL have projects that need funding.

However, this piece of crowdfunding news needed to be shared and you’ll see why.

New Zealand director, Lee Tamahori‘s new film The Patriarch, is funding its last 5% (NZ$500,000) of its budget via the country’s first equity crowdfunding platform, Snowball Effect.

The thing that makes this project slightly different to the thousands of other campaigns, is that all of the film’s pledges aka investors will be rewarded with a stake in the film’s profits.

This type of crowdfunding is a fairly new concept for film and doesn’t get a great deal of media attention. It allows the public to make small investments into a film (or product) and get a decent financial return on that investment. Of course, a financial return only happens if the film is successful. So investors need to be careful as to where they put their hard-earned, believing that the film will not only be made, but will make money as well.

It’s a brilliant way to get financing for your film.


Director Lee Tamahori behind the camera (image: SBS).

The Patriarch brings together the same team of filmmakers that made one of New Zealand’s most iconic and successful film’s Once Were Warriors, directed by Tamahori, his first time at helm.

The film will be shot at Gisborne, New Zealand, with a NZ$9.4 million budget. The filmmakers initially had all the funding they needed, but at the last minute an investor pulled out, leaving a $500K hole.

The film’s producer, Robin Scholes, a Kiwi legend in her own right and whose resume includes producing Once Were Warriors, Rain and most recently Mr Pip, said of the funding, “We are at the very, very last stage, and this will be the final push that we need to get it done.”

Regarding the equity crowdfunding campaign, Scholes said “This is a great opportunity for film lovers and genuine investors alike to play a vital part in getting an exceptional film made, while also having the ability to gain a return for investment through this new form of crowd funding.”

It’s been twenty years since Once Were Warriors, was released and it’s safe to say that it was a massive cultural, critical and financial success.

The film’s box-office returned more than $6.5 million to its Kiwi investors and it catapulted the director into an international film career. Tamahori went on to make Hollywood blockbusters, such as James Bond’s Die Another Day, Along Came a Spider (starring Morgan Freeman) and The Edge (starring Anthony Hopkins).

Temuera Morrison and Lee Tamahori on set of 'Once Were Warriors' (image: supplied).

Temuera Morrison and Lee Tamahori on set of ‘Once Were Warriors’ (image: supplied).

After his success in the USA, Tamahori now wants to head back the land of the long white cloud and make another film with his Warriors team, which includes producer Robin Scholes and actor Temuera Morrison.

Shaun Edlin, head of Snowball Effect’s company pipeline, says “If Kiwis get behind this offer, it will demonstrate that equity crowdfunding can be utilised to fund commercially viable creative projects and one-off events”.

The film itself, is based on Witi Ihimaera‘s novel, Bulibasha, a classic story of the struggle of family dynamics and the conflict of generations for a rural East Coast Maori family in 1950s New Zealand.

Ihimaera will be acting as associate producer and ‘script supervisor’ for the film and is excited to have Tamahori basing his ” return home” film on one of the writer’s best-loved novels. Of the film, he said, “Lee’s talent as a filmmaker combined with John Collee’s strong script, will deliver a film with universal appeal.”



Lee Tamahori on the set of ‘XXX – State of the Union’ with hip-hop artist Ice Cube (image: unknown).

For the director, the story will bring to life the sights and scenes of his childhood. He says he feels a personal empathy and understanding of the era, the place and the people at the heart of Ihimaera’s story. “I badly want to put this environment and its characters on the big screen. They deserve no less.”

The film stars another of the Warrior‘s team, actor Temuera Morrison, best known for his role as ‘Jake ‘The Muss” and for playing bounty hunter Jango Fett, whose genetic code served as the template for the clone troopers, in George Lucas’ Star Wars series of films.

Morrison said, “I haven’t seen a script with this much power, a story so strong since Once Were Warriors.”


You won’t like Jake when he’s angry, Temuera Morrison in character as The Muss, in ‘Once Were Warriors’.

The actor went on to say that he believes that, “Our best stories and our best work comes from our own earth and our own country and we have a story to do this with ‘The Patriarch’.”

The film will see Morrison play the role of Mahana, whose fight to become ‘King’ conflicts with his rebellious teen’s life. They changed Morrison’s title character name from ‘Bulibasha’ (the novel’s protagonist) because the filmmaker’s felt it was too aggressive, with Scholes saying, “We didn’t want the character to be seen as another Jake [the Muss].”

As to how the film will return money to its investors, Scholes explained, “The people who put money forward for this final $500,000 will be part of an elite tier of investors. They will be first priority to recoup their capital along with a 20% premium from net income. Other rewards for investors include being named in the film credits, invitations to the set during filming and invitations to the film’s premier.

Scholes is even prepared to mentor investors who are interested in learning about the film business, as a part of the highest tier rewards.

The goal is to raise $500K by the beginning of October, so that Tamahori can return to New Zealand to begin work on The Patriarch in December.

“It’s time for him to come home, make one of our real stories and work with some real actors as well – enough of those Hollywood ones!” says Morrison.

You can watch the filmmaker’s ‘pitch’ below and you can check out the film’s Snowball Effect campaign page here.

Be first to comment