Film-maker urges others to go Troppo

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 05/10/2012
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Film crew Mark Dwyer, Bruce Gatward-Cook and Keith Finnerty shoot a scene with actor Orlando Stewart as part of their Tropfest entry The Forgotten Astronaut.

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A short story Bruce Gatward-Cook created years ago is being brought to life for next year's Tropfest short film festival.

The Taranaki short film enthusiast has spent the past six months working alongside crew and cast members to create The Forgotten Astronaut.

Mr Gatward-Cook said the comedy drama was about an astronaut who was sent on a deep space mission in the 1970s, and when he returned in 2012, no-one at Nasa remembered him.

"I've really been wanting to make a short film out of it so I adapted it into a script. I had to chop heaps out to fit the seven-minute restriction which is a tough thing to do," he said.

The crew filmed in New Plymouth last weekend, while much of the footage has also been shot in Auckland.

With entries for Tropfest due in eight weeks on November 30, Mr Gatward-Cook is urging budding Taranaki film-makers to get involved.

"I really want to lay the gauntlet down for other teams to enter Tropfest. There's still time to get your cast and crew together, write a story and send an entry in," he said.

"You'll have a lot of fun making it so you can't miss really. And if you do get to be a finalist and watch your film on the big screen in front of several thousands of people, then that will be a magical experience."

The films selected as finalists will be shown at New Plymouth's Bowl of Brooklands on January 27.

As the writer, producer and director of The Forgotten Astronaut Mr Gatward-Cook said it was by far the most ambitious film he had ever tackled.

"This has really challenged us on so many levels but I love the story and I love the pictures that we've shot, so the odds are on that we'll have a good entry."

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter said organisers were pleased with the amount of entries so far, however history suggested more would flood in closer to deadline.

As well as prizes for the winning director and best actor, Tropfest has introduced a best Maori director award for 2013.

Ms Porter said holding the inaugural New Zealand Tropfest in Taranaki would do wonders for raising the region's profile within the arts scene.

"We know Tropfest will grow in New Zealand to be as big as it is in Australia, New York, Las Vegas, Arabia and South East Asia," she said.

Mr Gatward-Cook agreed and said good on Taft for bringing Tropfest to not only New Zealand, but Taranaki. "And the Bowl's a fantastic environment for an outside cinema. I think it reinforces Taranaki's reputation as being a centre for arts and culture."

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