Acclaimed director James Cameron, who released his massive box office hit ‘Avatar 2: The Way of Water’ in 2022, will now be executive producing a new Maori centric drama film called ‘Taonga’, by new comer director Shane Rangi.
Shane, while new to direction, is no stranger to filmmaking as such, having worked with James on production and writing of his ‘Avatar’ films.
Shane has written the script for the feature and will also be directing it
Drawing on his own life, Shane, who is of Ngati Porou descent, wrote 'Taonga' to tell the story of an indigenous Polynesian rugby star who ends up becoming homeless; before a violent encounter with law enforcement leaves him for dead and changes his life.
The story aims to navigate the realities of homelessness and modern-day policing, as per The Hollywood Reporter.
Many of these things were in fact a reality for Shane himself, a lifetime ago who was able to drag himself out of the dirt and become an actor and stunt performer in major Hollywood productions; which were shot in New Zealand as they left those dire straits.
This led to a long friendship with James and a collaboration with the man on the development of ‘Taonga’. On top of the two ‘Avatar’ films, he has notched credits on ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, ‘The Wolverine’, the ‘Narnia’ franchise, as well as all three films in each of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchises, among other productions.
In addition to James, Mikael Borglund of Beyond International (Deepsea Challenge 3D), Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit), Sandy Climan (The Aviator), Dominique Appleby (The Bay), and McKenzie Van Dorne Rice (Finite Water) are also on the executive producing team.
The hope is to shoot in 2024 in New Zealand. Casting will not commence until after the SAG-AFTRA strike concludes, and will be financed by Fandomodo Films, a boutique development, production and financing company that seeks to raise underrepresented voices.