COWBOY BEBOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL, MUSTAFA SHAKIR as JET BLACK, DANIELLA PINEDA as FAYE VALENTINE and EIN in Cowboy Bebop Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021
Filmed entirely in New Zealand, Cowboy Bebop is a live action version of the popular Japanese anime following vagabond bounty hunters tracking down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals. Showrunners André Nemec and Jeff Pinkner of Midnight Radio based production of the series in Auckland working with local Executive Producer Tim Coddington, Line Producer Simon Ambridge and a majority New Zealand crew including Production Designers Grant Major and Gary Mackay, and Costume Designer Jane Holland.
New Zealand’s Rachel House features as crime boss Mao and other local cast include Lucy Currey and Arlo Green.
About shooting in New Zealand
Nemec took an early scouting trip to Auckland, New Zealand in 2019, and the shooting location “just felt right.” The location would prove extremely beneficial when filming continued during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. “Before this show, I’d never shot in New Zealand before. The level of artistry and craftsmanship among the people who work in the industry here is outstanding,” Nemec says.
“From the department heads down, there is so much love put into and pride put into everything delivered, both in front of and behind the camera.” Before filming began, the creative team received the original illustrations from the Sunrise team behind the anime series. Those illustrations, and the anime itself, informed the adaptation’s design from top to bottom. The show features over 140 different sets and locations, and is full of nods to the original.
The intergalactic adventures were filmed on location across Auckland including: Waitawa Regional Park, Monte Cecilia Park, Te Ōnewa Pā / Stokes Point Northcote Reserve, Onehunga Wharf, Auckland Museum, St Matthew-in-the-City, and a number of inner-city streets.
The Bebop was originally a fishing trawler, set decorator Anneke Botha and the set decoration team found a real-life fishing trawler for sale in Tauranga, New Zealand and stripped its insides to decorate the Bebop for the show. They used the ship's guts — the piping, engines, machinery — to decorate the Bebop.
COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL on the set of COWBOY BEPOP Cr. NICOLA DOVE/NETFLIX © 2021
About the New Zealand Screen Production Grant
The New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) for International Productions is part of the New Zealand Government’s screen incentives scheme, which includes the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Grant. Eligible productions can access a cash rebate on Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE).
The baseline International grant is 20% of QNZPE. For PDV productions, the grant is 20% of QNZPE up to NZ$25million, thereafter 18% of QNZPE NZ$25million and above.
About the series
Cowboy Bebop is an action-packed space Western about three bounty hunters, aka “cowboys,” all trying to outrun the past. As different as they are deadly, Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) form a scrappy, snarky crew ready to hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals — for the right price. But they can only kick and quip their way out of so many scuffles before their pasts finally catch up with them.
Based on the beloved anime series, Cowboy Bebop is Executive Produced by André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio, Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios, Makoto Asanuma, Shin Sasaki and Masayuki Ozaki of Sunrise Inc., Tim Coddington, Tetsu Fujimura, Michael Katleman, Matthew Weinberg, and Christopher Yost. Nemec serves as showrunner. Original anime series director Shinichirō Watanabe is a consultant on the series, and original composer Yoko Kanno returns for the live-action adaptation. The series also stars Alex Hassell and Elena Satine.
The first season of Cowboy Bebop debuts worldwide on Netflix from 19 November 2021.