Success of films rewarding

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 03/01/2014
Rachel Nicholls
Fairfax NZ
ACTRESS: Rachel Nicholls.

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This year Nelson woman Rachel Nicholls' acting career has allowed her to be a mermaid, a deadbeat mother, a female police officer and, for real this time, a glamorous awards attendee.

Raised in St Arnaud and now Auckland-based, the 26-year-old has returned home after picking up the New Zealand Film Awards' Allpress Best Short Film Actress award for her role in student director Walter Lawry's film Blind Mice.

Miss Nicholls said in May that the film was her favourite out of the independent films she had so far been involved in as she was able to have a lot of influence over the script and her character, Jules. She ran out and dyed her hair pink shortly before the shooting started as she thought this was something that Jules would do.

Blind Mice follows Jules as she deals with an unexpected pregnancy and the trials of dating two different drug dealers.

As per the award structure, Miss Nicholls nominated herself for Best Actress - "It does take away a bit of the glamour, though." She said she had been happy just to be nominated for the award, saying that having her work in front of the film awards' international judges was enough for her.

A film named Crackheads that she and boyfriend Preston O'Brien were involved with also won the Nikon Best Self-Funded Film award.

Miss Nicholls said the person reading out the winners' names mispronounced her name at the awards ceremony, so Mr O'Brien and her mother were caught unawares when she won.

"I was like, ‘Ah!' and kissing them and they were like, dead."

After making Blind Mice, she and Mr Lawry followed their film to festivals in Hong Kong and Israel. Miss Nicholls said the Hong Kong festival was "very, very small and underground" but the Israeli screening was everything she could have hoped for.

"We got to meet some amazing film-makers from some very obscure places."

She said the trip would ultimately inform her acting, as the craft was all about drawing on life experiences.

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