After 43 days of hour-long commutes and filming in freezing conditions in the United States, film-maker Peter Jackson is home to film his version of heaven for The Lovely Bones.
Completing the movie in Wellington during an uncharacteristically dry summer feels almost like making two separate movies, Jackson said yesterday during a photocall with his main stars Mark Wahlberg, 13-year-old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and 18-year-old Kiwi Rose McIver.
‘‘It has got a strange feeling about it. I had psychologically got used to the idea that we were done with the movie when we’d shot our chunk in Pennsylvania,’’ Jackson said.
‘‘But what we are doing here is very different.’’
The 26-day shoot in Wellington began this week and will include scenes set in summer and several involving visual effects — including scenes set in heaven.
The movie, based on the novel by Alice Sebold, tells the story of 14-year-old Susie Salmon (played by Ronan) being raped and murdered.
She views much of the impact of her death and the search for the murderer from a stylised heaven.
Jackson’s 43-day shoot in Pennsylvania was the first time the Oscar-winning director has filmed overseas in his career.
While the landscapes and scenery would give the film the look it needed, ‘‘it wasn’t as nice as working in Miramar’’.
‘‘It was an hour’s drive each day in rush-hour traffic in freezing cold temperatures. Being five minutes away from the studio (here) is so nice.’’
But Jackson said shooting a film ‘‘is never where the most fun is’’.
Creation and pre-production was much more fun, compared to the financial and time constraints of shooting.
Regardless of the pressures, his main actors are enjoying the shoot.
Wahlberg plays Jack Salmon who is dealing with the horror of his daughter, Susie, being raped and murdered.
Away from the cameras yesterday he and his on-screen daughters played by Ronan and McIver laughed and teased each other. Wahlberg said he was in awe of their talents.
‘‘They’re so talented, it’s amazing to see. It’s easy for me. I just show up and talk, they have to do accents,’’ said Wahlberg, who spent two months last year filming with the pair in Pennsylvania before moving to Wellington.
‘‘These girls work tremendously hard. They re-instil the importance of professionalism for myself. I like to show up late and kind of goof off,’’ Wahlberg joked.
‘‘He’s always messing about and laughing about on the job,’’ said McIver.
‘‘When he’s trying to do a serious scene and he’s supposed to be crying, he decides to laugh instead and throws off all the other actors,’’ Ronan said.
‘‘It’s a little hard working with her with the nomination and stuff,’’ Wahlberg fired back, teasing Ronan over her nomination for a best supporting actress Oscar in the film Atonement.
‘‘She’s my sweetheart,’’ Wahlberg said.
‘‘She was the one that promised me I’d would be safe when I came here. I was worried. I have never travelled this far, especially being away from my family.’’ But he had no regrets. ‘‘People just work so hard here. They all want to bring Pete’s vision to the screen.’’