'Awesome mistake' leads young Wellington film-maker to festival debut
A happy accident involving an overlooked library book has led a young Wellington film-maker to a national festival.
Zoe-Rose Herbert, of Lyall Bay, is one of 15 film-makers selected for the Documentary Edge Festival short film section, to be held in Wellington and Auckland this month.
Her film, The Lonely Animal Friendship Society, was selected from more than 250 entrants in the section nationwide.
It all started with an unpaid library fine.
Herbert was studying film and marine biology at Victoria University when she found out that the unpaid library fine meant she could not complete her final academic year.
She moved to Auckland, where she happened upon an online application for the South Seas Film & Television School.
"I was working a cruddy sales job and I thought I was way too late, but the head of the school said, 'Sweet, we love your application, can you come in tomorrow?'
"So I told my boss: 'I'm not going to be coming back.'
"It was an awesome mistake on my part not to return that library book."
Her film follows the daily life of sculptor and people-watcher Edward Newbigin. He creates clay animal sculptures, which poke fun at human foibles, inspired by observations of people he meets.
Herbert views Newbigin as a social commentator, and a disciple of anti-cool.
She met him at the Auckland Art Fair, and immediately wanted to make a film about him.
"If you create something as interesting and cute as these animals … how could you not fall in love with that?"
Documentary Edge Film Festival founder Dan Shanan is just as enthusiastic.
"The film was selected because it's a great little story on an everyday guy.
"We like to encourage student filmmakers and help them show their work on the big screen."
As well as the camera work, Herbert created animations and edited the film herself, interspersing animation sequences with live footage.
The film is a labour of love that she hopes will lead to a career making wildlife documentaries.
She could be New Zealand's answer to Jacques Cousteau, but for now she's settling for Dunedin, where she intends to complete her masters in science communication at the University of Otago, working alongside Natural History New Zealand (now known as NHNZ) next year.
Working full-time for the Dunedin-based company would be her dream job.
"They supply something like 70 per cent of the footage to National Geographic and the Discovery Channel."
In the meantime, she is loving living in Lyall Bay while she finishes her degree at Victoria, after paying that library fine.
"Having the marine reserve on my doorstep is amazing. I'm in heaven."
* The Documentary Edge Film Festival is on now in Wellington until May 15. Visit docedge.nz for details.
* Herbert and Newbigin hold a Q+A session about the film on Saturday, May 7 at 1.30 pm at the Roxy Cinema. It also screens on May 11 at 4pm.