Survival movie Adrift filmed on location in Fiji

Director Baltasar Kormakur filmed new survival movie Adrift on location in Fiji with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. 

Director Baltasar Kormakur filmed new survival movie Adrift on location in Fiji with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

Kormakur has shot in some of the most inhospitable locations in the world, heading to the icy North Atlantic waters off his native Iceland for The Deep and the Mount Everest base camp for doomed expedition drama Everest.

Survival movie Adrift filmed on location in Fiji
Adrift

His latest production Adrift took him to the Fijian archipelago of some 300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The movie features Woodley and Claflin as a couple whose idyllic life on the open seas takes a turn when their boat is damaged in a hurricane. It is based on a true story of a woman who was shipwrecked off the coast of the French Polynesian island of Tahiti.

Kormakur, who also produces through his RVK Studios with US company STX Entertainment, opted to film on location in Fiji and New Zealand.

“We looked at the Dominican Republic [and] Malta – all kinds of options but the combination of Fiji and New Zealand worked best,” he says.

The decision to film in Fiji was partly driven by the archipelago’s idyllic desert island vistas that are very similar to those in Tahiti – 2,100 miles east across the Pacific where the story is actually set – combined with its relative proximity to New Zealand. A second-hand yacht was renovated for the shoot and a replica was also constructed for some of the scenes set after the hurricane.

Adrift

“Part of the story takes place in Tahiti but it's very far away from everything and quite complicated to shoot there," Kormakur says of the island that lies twice as far from New Zealand as Fiji.

The other main inducement was Fiji’s generous filming incentive support of up to 47% of eligible spending, which covers all manner of production costs including flights, location scouting trips and set design. The programme is the most generous financial incentive of its kind in the world, although it should be noted that very specific criteria have to be met for producers to access the full 47% figure.

“It helped us make our budget,” says Kormakur. “When everything's taken into account it comes in at about 41%, which is still very good.”

The production did not access New Zealand's incentive because it did not hit the NZ$15m minimum spend for international productions.

Adrift

Adrift is the first feature to film in Fiji since the tax rebate was introduced.

"You need to bring in equipment and key people for a big production like ours," says Kormakur. The warm welcome the production received more than made up for these shortcomings.

“The Fijians are wonderful people,” the filmmaker says, recalling the five months he spent in Fiji working on the film. “The prices are always very fair and there's still a freshness to the place that you don't find in other popular locations.

"We had Fijians running the boats. We used local people as much as possible, especially on the water, tapping into their knowledge of the reefs and the sea.”

One of the biggest challenges was finding a suitable filming location at sea.

Adrift

"We had a scout for the ocean because there are a lot of reefs,” says Kormakur. “We needed to find an area where we could work without constantly getting into trouble. We also had to take into account that the reefs and waters are owned by different tribes.”

Once they were on location, there were further hazards to be navigated including sunburn caused by the reflection of the sun on the water.

“There was also a lot of seasickness, especially in the beginning. The first day on the boat everyone was throwing up. They were carrying up buckets of puke from the galley. One minute Sam Claflin would be throwing up, the next I’d be shouting ‘Action!’.”

The waters around Fiji are also home to a sizeable shark population, in part due to the territory’s conservation efforts at its Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Their potential presence did not, however, impact the shoot.

“Shailene, who did all her own stunts, was diving off and under the boat,” says Kormakur. The director went on shark diving tours while filming in Fiji. “I was surrounded by 60 sharks. Nobody else wanted to join me but I loved it. I was blown away!”

Images: STX Films

Survival movie Adrift filmed on location in Fiji
Adrift

Director Baltasar Kormakur filmed new survival movie Adrift on location in Fiji with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

Kormakur has shot in some of the most inhospitable locations in the world, heading to the icy North Atlantic waters off his native Iceland for The Deep and the Mount Everest base camp for doomed expedition drama Everest.

His latest production Adrift took him to the Fijian archipelago of some 300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The movie features Woodley and Claflin as a couple whose idyllic life on the open seas takes a turn when their boat is damaged in a hurricane. It is based on a true story of a woman who was shipwrecked off the coast of the French Polynesian island of Tahiti.

Kormakur, who also produces through his RVK Studios with US company STX Entertainment, opted to film on location in Fiji and New Zealand.

“We looked at the Dominican Republic [and] Malta – all kinds of options but the combination of Fiji and New Zealand worked best,” he says.

The decision to film in Fiji was partly driven by the archipelago’s idyllic desert island vistas that are very similar to those in Tahiti – 2,100 miles east across the Pacific where the story is actually set – combined with its relative proximity to New Zealand. A second-hand yacht was renovated for the shoot and a replica was also constructed for some of the scenes set after the hurricane.

Adrift

“Part of the story takes place in Tahiti but it's very far away from everything and quite complicated to shoot there," Kormakur says of the island that lies twice as far from New Zealand as Fiji.

The other main inducement was Fiji’s generous filming incentive support of up to 47% of eligible spending, which covers all manner of production costs including flights, location scouting trips and set design. The programme is the most generous financial incentive of its kind in the world, although it should be noted that very specific criteria have to be met for producers to access the full 47% figure.

“It helped us make our budget,” says Kormakur. “When everything's taken into account it comes in at about 41%, which is still very good.”

The production did not access New Zealand's incentive because it did not hit the NZ$15m minimum spend for international productions.

Adrift

Adrift is the first feature to film in Fiji since the tax rebate was introduced.

"You need to bring in equipment and key people for a big production like ours," says Kormakur. The warm welcome the production received more than made up for these shortcomings.

“The Fijians are wonderful people,” the filmmaker says, recalling the five months he spent in Fiji working on the film. “The prices are always very fair and there's still a freshness to the place that you don't find in other popular locations.

"We had Fijians running the boats. We used local people as much as possible, especially on the water, tapping into their knowledge of the reefs and the sea.”

One of the biggest challenges was finding a suitable filming location at sea.

Adrift

"We had a scout for the ocean because there are a lot of reefs,” says Kormakur. “We needed to find an area where we could work without constantly getting into trouble. We also had to take into account that the reefs and waters are owned by different tribes.”

Once they were on location, there were further hazards to be navigated including sunburn caused by the reflection of the sun on the water.

“There was also a lot of seasickness, especially in the beginning. The first day on the boat everyone was throwing up. They were carrying up buckets of puke from the galley. One minute Sam Claflin would be throwing up, the next I’d be shouting ‘Action!’.”

The waters around Fiji are also home to a sizeable shark population, in part due to the territory’s conservation efforts at its Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Their potential presence did not, however, impact the shoot.

“Shailene, who did all her own stunts, was diving off and under the boat,” says Kormakur. The director went on shark diving tours while filming in Fiji. “I was surrounded by 60 sharks. Nobody else wanted to join me but I loved it. I was blown away!”

Images: STX Films

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