Stalker film to premiere at Paramount
One good thing about making a creepy stalker quite appealing is that your mum might enjoy the movie, Dean Hewison says.
Dean Hewison is just a smidgen perturbed that the main character in How to Meet Girls From a Distance has turned out to be a bit too likeable.
Hewison is one of three fledgling Wellington film-makers whose idea for a movie beat those of more than 750 other contenders in the Make Me a Movie competition.
The main character in How to Meet Girls From a Distance is Toby, who is 30-something and stalks an intended partner. He's done it before. He's not, on the surface, an attractive person.
"But our spin on a rom-com," says Hewison, who wrote the movie with Richard Falkner and Sam Dickson, "was something between charming and a bit dark and filthy. We were interested in a stalking peeping Tom character and getting the audience on board with him, taking the journey with him. People may see a little bit of themselves, too."
It's so easy, he says, to look people up on Facebook or Google them.
"There's a fine line between research and getting close to stalking, which is increasingly blurred. People can recognise what they do, as well. He's an extreme version of all of us in a way.
"A journalist can call it research. Someone else can call it stalking. You knew all about me before I walked in. A journalist's excuse is more legitimate than his. But his is not a bad reason. He wants to find love . . .
"He certainly does do inappropriate things, like going through her rubbish and standing outside her bedroom window listening to her music. He does more than that but I don't want to spoil it.
"He's researched women before but this time he finds his dream woman. He sees her at a concert and thinks she's the most beautiful, kind woman he's ever seen and orchestrates things to get to know her."
Looking someone up on Facebook might be appropriate, he theorises - "but is going somewhere they'll be fine? Is it just using your initiative?
"We did take pains to make him as likeable as possible. I almost worry about him being too likeable. The film hasn't turned out as creepy. It's kooky comedy rather than morally questionable film.
"Having done that, people like my mum will hopefully still like it. She's coming up for the premiere at the Paramount."
By day Hewison is an asset co- ordinator for Weta Digital. It is, he says, a 50-hour a week job. How to Meet Girls From a Distance was largely written and made after work and on weekends.
Hewison has been in the limelight before. Not long after he arrived to "try" Wellington in 2002, after graduating in broadcasting from the Institute of Technology in Christchurch, he was a finalist in the Outstanding New Playwright section of the Chapman Tripp Awards with his first "proper play", Head of the House, staged at Bats.
It was a black farce in which five flatmates investigate which one of them decapitated the landlord and popped the head in the washing machine. The play progresses with the head on the dining table.
Hewison did some work for Gibson Group and television, became a house- father for his young daughter for a few years and kept writing and directing. In 2007, Brainpower was a Fringe Festival award-winner and The Henchman was part of the Young and Hungry season at Bats. The Henchman was motivated by wanting to put more than the usual action on stage - a good fight, the sort usually confined to the screen.
How to Meet Girls From a Distance is his second attempt at a feature film. The first, about a dysfunctional brother/sister relationship, was made in 2006, on a shoestring, in 18 days, with nine people, but never finished, although it had a screening at Mighty Mighty.
How to Meet Girls From a Distance was also made quickly and on a slightly longer shoestring budget, courtesy of the competition win, a new initiative from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ ON Air.
"We did it for $100,000 almost exactly, not paying anyone, not paying ourselves. I don't want to make a film with that little money, again.
"I love that fact at the end of it I have my own Blu-ray on my DVD shelf with my other DVDs and with my friends in it. It's just a buzz."
How to Meet Girls from a Distance is on at the Paramount on July 29 at 1pm and July 31 at 1.45pm as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival.
The Dominion Post