47% New Zealand cast
46 New Zealand cast members
88% New Zealand crew
208 New Zealand crew
16 New Zealand HoDs
Approx 200 New Zealand vendors
55 total shoot days in the Greater Wellington region
Wellington stood in for Van Nuys Los Angeles
25 New Zealand locations used
VFX by Weta Digital, Cause+FX, and Park Road Post Production
About shooting in New Zealand
A24’s new 10-episode TV series Mr. Corman written, directed and starred in by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Inception, Don Jon) is a dark comedy featuring a melancholic teacher in crisis.
The setting for Mr. Corman is the San Fernando Valley - the suburban sprawl north of Los Angeles - and the production had decided to film in the area. However, shortly after filming began, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly shut down production. Discussions began about what solutions there could be to continue and the idea was put forward to complete the season in New Zealand where, because of the country’s ability to keep out the virus, production continued.
When the production relocated to New Zealand, Wellington stood in for suburban Los Angeles and a predominantly New Zealand crew were headed by Producer Pamela Harvey-White. Episode 109 was entirely shot in Petone mainly on Victoria Street.
When it came to recreating the look of Van Nuys, California, that fell to New Zealand production designer Brendon Heffernan, who took over the reins from Meghan Rogers.
“All of the skills I’d learned on fantasy, science fiction and other big art department shows was suddenly applicable to Mr. Corman, in the way that my team and I would have to make things disappear,” says Heffernan. “We had to create Van Nuys in New Zealand but not make it jump out or let it distract from the characters. That was exciting to me.”
Heffernan created concept drawings, but they would only be references, as the beauty of the design would be in the familiar, the aspects in our environment that we often take for granted. “I had to learn quickly what Joe responded to in terms of what was familiar and what wouldn’t read as Los Angeles," recalls Heffernan. “Those initial scouts were where I learned Joe’s language and what he wanted.” To effect the transition, houses were clad in different finishes and the art department turned green lawns to shades of brown to better match the drier California climate. The art department changed signage, graphics and added practical lighting.
Other set pieces - including Josh and Victor’s apartment - were able to be transported from Los Angeles to New Zealand. “It was surreal shooting in the same apartment that we were shooting in in L.A.,” recalls Castro. “I walked in and was so disoriented, because I knew I was in New Zealand, but I was also in an apartment in L.A..”
“I was able to work with two of my favourite crews in my whole career, our L.A. crew was phenomenal. Shutting down in Los Angeles was like a dagger in our hearts, but when we shifted to New Zealand we found another crew that was just as amazing. We were really, really fortunate.”
Fast facts: New Zealand Head of Departments
Make Up & Hair Designer:
Credit: Courtesy of Apple
About the series
Written, directed, produced by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Inception, Don Jon), Mr. Corman follows the days and nights of Josh Corman, an artist at heart but not by trade. Things haven’t been going his way lately – his lifelong dream of a career in music didn't pan out and he finds himself teaching fifth grade at a school in the San Fernando Valley, his ex-fiancé Megan has moved out and his high school buddy has moved in. Aware that he still has a lot to be thankful for, Josh struggles nevertheless through universal feelings of anxiety, loneliness and self-doubt. Darkly funny, oddly beautiful and deeply heartfelt, this relatable comedy-drama speaks for our contemporary generation of 30-somethings – rich with good intentions, poor with student loans and working to become grown-ups sometime before they’re senior citizens.
Bobby Hall aka Logic
Bruce Eric Kaplan
Bruce Eric Kaplan
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY:
Brendan Heffernan (New Zealand)
Meghan Rogers (United States)
Kirsty Cameron (New Zealand)
Hope Hanafin (United States)
About the New Zealand Screen Production Grant
The New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) for International Productions is part of the New Zealand Government’s screen incentives scheme, which includes the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Grant. Eligible productions can access a cash rebate on Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE).
The baseline International grant is 20% of QNZPE. For PDV productions, the grant is 20% of QNZPE up to NZ$25million, thereafter 18% of QNZPE NZ$25million and above.
Mr. Corman debuts on Apple TV+ 6 August 2021.