Issue date: 
Tuesday, 3 October 2023

The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) partnered with Max on the upcoming second season of the original comedy series Our Flag Means Death as part of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) 5% Uplift. From creator-showrunner David Jenkins, Emmy®-nominated executive producer and star Taika Waititi, and Emmy®-nominated executive producer Garrett Basch, Our Flag Means Death returns to Max in the U.S. on October 5. In New Zealand, season two debuts on Neon on October 6 and is coming soon to Sky Open.

Starring Waititi and Rhys Darby, the eight-episode second season of the Max Original comedy series Our Flag Means Death debuts with three episodes continuing with two new episodes weekly leading up to the season finale.

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the partners recognized the significant economic, cultural, and industry benefits the show’s production brought to New Zealand, including the promotion of New Zealand as a tourism and filmmaking destination.    

The MoU included a knowledge sharing program surrounding the advanced technology of the LED Volume Wall used during shooting. This included collaborations with New Zealand-based VFX production companies and a wider industry workshop.   

NZFC Chief Executive Annie Murray noted that the partnership not only provided economic benefits during filming, it will also strengthen the perception of the New Zealand screen industry internationally when the new season debuts. 'Our Flag Means Death reinforces the high profile the New Zealand screen industry has internationally. This show is a renewed opportunity to showcase our cast, experienced crew, locations and facilities to the world.” 

Annie Murray says that the newly revised NZSPR is an important lever available to ensure production budgets are competitive, as is making sure international filmmakers and studios are aware of the benefits. “Showrunners like David Jenkins are integral decision makers who are looking at the bottom line for their projects. Our Flag Means Death is a great example of New Zealand delivering budget value to an international project.”

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive René de Monchy said “Tourism is one of our country’s top export earners and we are working hard to attract high-quality visitation that will support New Zealand’s recovery. Taika Waititi is a strong advocate for New Zealand on the world stage and we expect this partnership to result in significant reach to those considering a New Zealand holiday.”

Creator and showrunner David Jenkins cited creative talent and landscapes as key motivators for the move from Los Angeles to New Zealand, as well as budget advantages. “We were looking at the season two budget and asking ‘How do you get the most money on screen?’ New Zealand was the answer. I’ve seen more of our budget end up on screen than it did in the US in season one.” 

Principal photography took place over 67 shoot days in Auckland, New Zealand at the end of 2022. The series was filmed at Kumeu Film Studios, Bethell’s Beach, Piha and at the Howick Historical Village. Post-production also took place in Auckland.  

New Zealanders featured heavily in front of the camera, with 78% of the roles going to Kiwis. The show stars New Zealanders Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, and David Fane. 

Of the 780 crew contracted onto the show, 350 were full-time and 96% were New Zealanders. Many of the key creatives on the production were also Kiwis including production designer Ra Vincent, hair and makeup designer Nancy Hennah, set decorator Megan Vertelle, and writer Maddie Dai. 

HBO and Max SVP of Production Planning & Incentives Jay Roewe praised the partnership. “New Zealand was the perfect place to shoot the show’s second season. The beautiful and varied landscapes brought an epic scope to the series and we all fully embraced the opportunity to work with the many talented cast and crew based there.”  

Our Flag Means Death is based (very) loosely on the true adventures of 18th century would-be pirate Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby). After trading the seemingly charmed life of a gentleman for one of a swashbuckling buccaneer, Stede became captain of the pirate ship Revenge. Struggling to earn the respect of his potentially mutinous crew, Stede’s fortunes changed after a fateful run-in with the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). To their surprise, the wildly different Stede and Blackbeard found more than friendship on the high seas…they found love. Now, they have to survive it. 

Season two is executive produced by Academy Award® winner Taika Waititi, alongside creator-showrunner David Jenkins. In addition to his duties as showrunner, Jenkins directed the first two episodes of season two. Garrett Basch, Dan Halsted, Adam Stein, and Antoine Douaihy also serve as executive producers. 

Link to Tourism NZ's Content with Taika Waititi:

About the New Zealand Film Commission 

The New Zealand Film Commission  invests in original and culturally significant films, encourages talented New Zealand filmmakers through developing career pathways and facilitating connections offshore, and works to increase the number of people seeing New Zealand films here and overseas. It is responsible for marketing New Zealand’s screen production industry overseas and attracting international screen productions to New Zealand. The NZFC supports the growth of economic activity and helps ensure New Zealand has sustainable screen sector businesses operating within an internationally competitive screen sector.  The NZFC also helps negotiate co-production treaties and is responsible for administering the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate, the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Grant and the 5% Uplift, and for certifying official co-productions and New Zealand films for tax purposes.   

International productions are eligible for a grant rebate of 20 percent of qualifying New Zealand production expenditure. An additional 5 percent grant is available to applicants who demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand, recognising that screen productions can raise New Zealand’s profile internationally, attract high value tourists, international students and profile innovative and creative people and technologies. 

About Tourism New Zealand 

Tourism New Zealand is responsible for promoting New Zealand to high quality visitors in key markets. High quality visitors are those who positively contribute to New Zealand’s nature, culture, society and economy. Tourism is one of New Zealand’s top export earners significantly supporting our economy.

About Max

Max®, which launched May 23, 2023, is an enhanced streaming platform from Warner Bros. Discovery, delivering unparalleled quality content for everyone in the household. With a personalized user experience that brings unique and unexpected stories ranging from the best of unscripted to the highest quality in scripted programming, Max is the destination for HBO Originals, Warner Bros. films, Max Originals, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an expansive offering of kids and family content, and best-in-class programing across food, home, reality, lifestyle, and documentaries from leading brands like HGTV, Food Network, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and more, all in one place.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, 11 October 2023