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Hero image for Dream in the Making - The Making of Sleeping Dogs

Dream in the Making - The Making of Sleeping Dogs

Short Film (Full Length) – 1977

I've been wanting to make movies for a long time. Ian Mune and I went to Europe in June of last year. While I was there, I went to the Cannes Film Festival and I saw a lot of movies which I thought were a load of crap, and I thought we can do as good as that in New Zealand. And with that thought in mind I came back determined that if I couldn't get a movie off the ground within six months in New Zealand, I'd go elsewhere and try and make one.
– Director/producer Roger Donaldson on the birth of Sleeping Dogs
And so it was to Coromandel that the Sleeping Dogs crew came in March, a bit like a travelling show with their tonnes of Panavision cameras, lights, gels, dollies, low legs, high hats, cases of gelignite and cakes of face powder.
– Narrator John Reid describes the film's 30-strong crew arriving in Coromandel in 1977
On the first day's shooting the whole town turns out to watch the free entertainment. Their presence could have been a problem ... but Donaldson turns it to his advantage, using the bystanders to fill out the crowd scenes.
– Narrator John Reid describes the excitement the Sleeping Dog shoot provided for Coromandel locals
Well my agent had been here a year before, he and his wife, and they fell in love with New Zealand. He told me that this is a great opportunity, and it's a young film company and ahh, there's not the kind of remunerations that you normally receive, but you'll get more than that by going.
– American actor Warren Oates on why he flew to New Zealand to act in Sleeping Dogs
Days and nights merge as the weeks roll by, the crew by now functioning smoothly under the strain of trying to bring in a big picture under budget and on time.
– Narrator John Reid on reaching the middle of the Sleeping Dog shoot
In the States they use real weapons and they use blanks but of course here in New Zealand we're not allowed to have machine guns of any sort in case we go and hold up a bloody bank and we're not allowed to have any sort of bloody ammunition...
– Special effects man Geoff Murphy on having to make their own machine guns for the Sleeping Dogs shoot
Man this is forty mile an hour, this is forty-five mile an hour!
– Stuntman Jerry Popov argues with Roger Donaldson after accidentally crashing the main hero car
[Warren] Oates said to me I think the nicest thing that anyone's ever said to me, when he left. He said "I'll see ya, Sam. I'll see ya in the movies, boy". That was nice, I mean he didn't need to say that.
– Newbie actor Sam Neill at the end of the documentary, on American actor Warren Oates' prophetic parting line
In the States they use real weapons, and they use blanks. But of course here in New Zealand we're not allowed to have machine guns of any sort in case we're going to hold up a bloody bank, and we're not allowed to have any sort of bloody ammunition ... so we've got to make our own ones, and we could still go and hold up a bloody bank.
– Special effects man bGeoff Murphy on creating fake guns for Sleeping Dogs
Murphy recalled the incredulous look on the face of American co-star Warren Oates, a veteran of United States westerns, when he was wired up for a gunfight scene in which he was required to brandish a wooden rifle because the law forbade the use of anything more realistic. "Just run up and shake it, Warren, and I'll make the flashes come out," Murphy instructed. He had pre-loaded explosives into a chamber in the rifle and then detonated them electrically from off screen.
– Excerpt from an article celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sleeping Dogs, Dominion Post, 31 January, 2009