When Wrong feels so right

HANNAH MCKEE
Last updated 09:58 28/02/2014
Gaylene Preston
EMMA BEER/FAIRFAX NZ
FIRST FIRLM: Gaylene Preston says she was exhausted, emotional and full of anxiety when her debut film Mr Wrong was completed.

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She's now one of Wellington's best-known film-makers, but 30 years ago Gaylene Preston was an unknown making her first feature-length movie.

Mr Wrong, a uniquely Wellington feminist comedy thriller, sold all around the world and helped to establish Preston's reputation. Now it is being rescreened as part of the New Zealand Festival's First Films programme, showcasing the first features of four Wellington directors.

The others in the series are Sir Peter Jackson's Bad Taste, Taika Waititi's Eagle vs Shark, and Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland's Shopping.

Preston says the screening at the Embassy tomorrow afternoon has been a great opportunity to bring the movie into the 21st century.

"I think it's amazing. It hasn't been screenable for a long time because it's old technology shot 30 years ago, so you can't normally screen it at the Embassy."

Mr Wrong, released in 1985, was shot at various locations in the Wellington region, including Paekakariki Hill Road, Rimutaka Hill, Porirua, and a "scungy" flat in Mt Victoria.

It was shot in car park buildings, with hoses instead of rain towers, and includes glimpses of the city that no longer remain, such as red buses, paper boys and The Evening Post.

It centres on 20-something redhead Meg's purchase of a new Jaguar, which it seems is haunted and puts her life in danger.

Preston, whose later films include Perfect Strangers and Home by Christmas, has spent the past few weeks helping to improve the quality of Mr Wrong.

"It's been a bit of a blast. I could sit there cringeing, but I've quite enjoyed it.

"If people who watch it have only seen Home By Christmas it will come as a total surprise to them."

She had to wear more than just her director's hat when the film opened at The Paramount.

"The queues were so long they went right around the corner and around the block so we'd race down there and help sell the ice creams to speed things up."

She decided to keep the Jaguar after filming, which she says became a post-screening sideshow of sorts outside her Roxburgh St home in Mt Victoria.

Creating Mr Wrong was nothing short of an adventure - a bit like having a first child, she says.

"I'm proud that we actually managed to pull it off, proud that it sold all over the world and proud that we've managed to get it so that it will be in a digital cinema round now and we haven't lost it, she'll be going for a few years yet.

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"I just feel very privileged to have made films on my own terms."

THE DETAILS

Mr Wrong will screen at The Embassy on Saturday at 1.30pm, tickets at ticketek.co.nz. Peter Jackson's Bad Taste will also screen on Saturday and Taika Waititi's Eagle vs Shark and Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland's Shopping on Sunday.

- The Dominion Post

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