British television channel BBC Three is producing an eight-part series called ‘Tatau’ about two friends from London who travel the world and end up in the Cook Islands.
Production Manager Trishia Downie said filming is scheduled to begin on September 22 and wrap up in early November.
About 50 cast and crew members are coming for the shoot and will be accommodated all over the island, said Downie, who is from New Zealand but has a home in Rarotonga.
She said the budget “isn’t huge like with feature films” but there will be positive knock-on effects for the country.
Money will be spent at restaurants, bars and accommodation, and well-known Avarua eatery Trader Jacks will be providing catering services.
Downie said a number of locals will be employed as extras and to build sets, and landowners will be paid for allowing filming to take place on their properties.
“And then at the end of it there’s an eight-part series sold everywhere. To me, that’s the best part because then this beautiful place gets shown to the rest of the world,” Downie said.
People in target tourist markets like Europe and North America will get the chance to see the Cook Islands – and perhaps jump on a plane to visit.
If the series is a hit, BBC Three could well choose to film in the Cook Islands again, she said.
Filming will take place in numerous locations - including in Blackrock, Muri and Arorangi - and the aim is to showcase the island’s stunning natural beauty.
A group responsible for assembling film props will be arriving in about three weeks’ time and, among other things, will be looking to hire scooters and cars from locals.
Downie said any props used in the film need to look authentic, which means the shiny, newer vehicles offered by rental companies won’t be suitable.
Tatau follows 20-somethings Kyle Connor and Pete Griffiths who set off on a trip looking for sun, fun and new experiences.
Kyle gets himself a Maori-style tattoo in London before he leaves but is unsettled when he arrives in the Cook Islands to find locals reacting strangely to his tattoo.
While snorkelling, Kyle finds the dead body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater but he returns later with the police to finds her corpse has disappeared.
Griffiths wonders if his mate is going mad but Kyle knows what he saw and starts to realise he has a gift – or a curse. The murder he’s witnessed hasn’t happened yet, it’s something that will happen in the future.
The friends become caught up in a race to prevent Aumea’s murder, as Kyle learns that prophecy isn’t his only new gift, as the full meaning of his tattoo is revealed.
‘Tatau’ is being co-produced by Touchpaper TV and South Pacific Pictures, in association with BBC America.