Director a Central cowboy at heart
Dreams of being a cowboy in Central Otago led to the making of New Zealand's first "pavlova" western film, which has already gained international recognition.
Good for Nothing, filmed in Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country, is the first New Zealand self-funded film to receive a theatrical release in the United States and opens in cinemas in New Zealand on May 3, with the premiere to be held in Wanaka tomorrow.
Internationally renowned Kiwi composer John Psathas chose the film for his debut film score, and it also had the financial backing of Oscar-winning editor Jamie Selkirk.
Debut director Mike Wallis said while growing up in Dunedin he spent all his summer holidays in Central Otago, including Alexandra and Wanaka.
"I always dreamed of making a western here. It's a really cool area and it's so hot in the summer."
Wallis spent his youth imagining he was a cowboy among the Central Otago landscape and as he grew older he turned his attention to western films.
"I felt a connection between the landscapes [in movies] and the ones we are surrounded with in New Zealand."
Working at a video store in Queenstown in his 20s, Wallis said he always wanted to make movies but did not know how to go about it.
He went on to work at Weta Digital for nine years, where his fiancee Inge Rademeyer, who is the leading lady in Good for Nothing, also worked.
"It opened up so many doors ... everything became a lot more possible."
The couple produced the film together while working at Weta.
The film had been six years in the making and three years were spent location scouting on their Christmas holidays. Locations included the Catlins, Bannockburn, the Otago goldfields and Kingston. Wallis said they had received incredible support, especially from farmers in the region letting them use their land.
He described the film as an action adventure filled with dry Kiwi humour. It has been named a "pavlova" western following along the traditional theme of genre-defining westerns including spaghetti westerns made in Italy and Spain, noodle westerns from China and curry westerns from India.
The story was about the odd romance of a young Englishwoman kidnapped by an outlaw, played by Cohen Holloway (Boy), who has an erectile dysfunction problem and attempts to find a cure from several doctors.
The film was self-funded and Wallis said he did not know an overall cost but the shooting had cost $80,000.
The Southland Times