Film festival fame for Wellingtonians

REBECCA THOMSON
Last updated 10:56 05/07/2012
Make my movie
STEPH KUTTNER

Hectic schedule: Matty Warmington, left, and Dean Hewison run through lines during the filming of How to Meet Girls From a Distance.

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Three Wellington film-makers have stalked their way into the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Dean Hewison, Richard Falkner and Sam Dickson won the inaugural Make My Movie competition, for which they received $100,000 to turn their script of How to Meet Girls From a Distance into a film.

It is the story of Toby, who stalks future partners by gathering as much information about them as possible so he can turn himself into their perfect man.

The movie premieres at the film festival on July 29.

The trio entered the competition in November and were announced winners in January.

Hewison, the film's director, said since then they had been working "ridiculous hours" to write, shoot and edit the movie.

"The film festival wasn't even on the radar. It wasn't something we were even thinking about. We were just trying to finish the film," he said.

"At the wrap party the producer asked for a cut to show to the festival.

"It's great to be chosen, but having a premiere just six months after coming up with idea, that's insane."

Hewison was also working on a Fringe Festival production and a re-write of the play Live at Six, as well at his day job with Weta Digital.

"It was pretty insane, quite hectic. We were still writing [the script] while we were shooting. The shoot took 17 days and we were always behind the eight ball.

"Thankfully, work gave me a couple of months off. It was pretty cool of them to do that.

"Even so, I had my calendar colour-coded for each project, so I knew what I was doing when."

The final touches are being added to the film, but Hewison said it would definitely be ready for its festival screenings.

"I'm quite keen to go to a screening where nobody knows me. It will be interesting to see what they say.

"We're aware of our limitations, how fast we wrote the script, how we fast we shot it, and the micro budget, but hopefully it doesn't scream low-budget when people are watching it."

Film Festival director Bill Gosden said the film was chosen because it was genuinely funny.

"It will stand out because it's a popular comedy. It has a real advantage in that respect," Gosden said.

"Everyone says it's surprisingly good. They proved what they set out to prove, really."

Although the competition and shooting a film in such a short time had been a good experience, Hewison said he probably wouldn't do it again.

"Winning the competition is not so much a prize as an endurance test.

"Doing a film in 17 days is not a particularly good way to do it, but hopefully things will look up from here.

"It's got its world premiere in Wellington, then it screens in Auckland. We all want to go up for that."

After the festival, How to Meet Girls from a Distance will screen at an industry festival in Melbourne.

Hewison said it was then hoped the film would go on general release in New Zealand. zThe New Zealand International Film Festival starts on July 27. See nzff.co.nz.

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- The Wellingtonian

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