Richard Fletcher, founder of company Libertine Pictures, has taken an unusual path to becoming a producer. While many Kiwis learn the nuts and bolts of producing by working their way up the ladder on a film set, Fletcher first spent time in film distribution and at the NZ Film Commission, before seguing into co-producing Vincent Ward's multi-million dollar production River Queen.
In 2013 he founded production company Libertine Pictures, alongside British-born writer Neil Cross (Luther, Spooks) and sales and marketing expert Paul Davis (My Wedding and Other Secrets).
Fletcher began travelling early on. Raised in New Zealand, he finished his schooling in Sydney, then completed a BA with Honours in Drama in the United Kingdom. After training with a film exhibitor in London, he became operations manager at independent UK distributor The Feature Film Company.
Fletcher had an early screen credit (as trainee assistant director) on 1999 Pierce Brosnan vehicle Grey Owl. Then he moved to Australia to work for an early incarnation of TV powerhouse Beyond International.
In 2000 Fletcher returned home to join the staff of the NZ Film Commission, as Head of Business Affairs. During three years in the job, Fletcher worked on Rain, Whale Rider and In My Father's Den, and negotiated deals involving everything from financing to sales and distribution. He helped set up and administrate the NZ Film Production Fund (aka the Film Fund), established in 2000 to invest in larger-budget local films requiring complex financing structures.
Fletcher later left the NZFC to work as Head of Production at Silverscreen Films. There he co-produced the partially Film Fund-supported River Queen, one of Aotearoa's most expensive local productions to date. Though the historical drama proved famously difficult to make, Fletcher found the challenge presented "a perfect learning opportunity". Don Reynolds and Brit-based Chris Auty have the main producer credits on River Queen. Fletcher has said that his co-producer credit saw him being "Don's right-hand man" — dealing with the business side of the shoot, while Reynolds concentrated on filmmaking matters on the set.
Since then Fletcher has established a reputation in the Kiwi film industry as the finance guy, dealing with the increasingly complex world of co-productions, equity funds, pre-sales and tax credits. He assisted The Ferryman's driving producer Matthew Metcalfe in helping arrange English funding for the 2007 horror movie, and is listed as executive producer on 2009 Kiwi-German co-production The Strength of Water — in Fletcher's words, for helping producer Fiona Copland "get the last bit of financing".
In 2007 Fletcher joined director Jonathan King and writer Matthew Grainger on the producing team of sci-fi tale Under the Mountain, from the novel by Maurice Gee. A week before filming was due to begin, troubled British production company Capitol Films withdrew a significant proportion of the film's funding. Fletcher rushed to refinance the movie in order that key crew and castmembers weren't lost. After completing the restructured deal on a Saturday morning at 6am, he jumped the following Monday directly into the stresses of pre-production, then shooting. Fletcher and King are currently developing an action comedy set in San Francisco.
Fletcher is one of the producers of Kiwi-Chinese movie Into the Rainbow (formerly The Wonder). The 3D fantasy follows a group of children who find themselves racing to save the planet, after being magically transported to China.
Fletcher also provided funding advice to the producers of hit movie Boy. He was an executive producer on colonial cat and mouse tale Tracker (featuring Temuera Morrison and Brit Ray Winstone), ecological documentary The Last Ocean, award-winning documentary Belief: the Possession of Janet Moses, and Margaret Mahy fantasy The Changeover.
Fletcher feels that in recent years the demands of being a producer have broadened, partly thanks to growing complications of film financing and documentation, which are sometimes only finalised shortly before filming begins. Fletcher believes that as a result, Kiwi producers are increasingly "going to have to work together more collaboratively" than has often been the case in the past.
In 2017 Fletcher was named as Co-President of industry group the Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand (SPADA), alongside Sharon Menzies. Fletcher was previously President of the organisation from 2007 to 2009, and in 2014.
In 2009 he was named SPADA's Independent Producer of the Year. In 2017 he won SPADA's Industry Champion Award.
Michelle Coursey, 'Plug pulled on film' - The NZ Herald, June 22 2008
Nick Grant, 'Making his own luck II' (Interview) - Onfilm, June 2010, page 19 (Volume 27, No 6)
Interim Report - Film Fund (New Zealand Film Production Fund). May 2009