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Movie stalks its way to the top

Richard Falkner stalks Dean Hewison
How To Meet Girls From A Distance - WRITTEN BY Dean Hewison, Richard Falkner and Sam Dickson
A peeping Tom rom-com called How to Meet Girls From a Distance has won the Make My Movie competition.

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A peeping Tom rom-com called How to Meet Girls From a Distance has won the Make My Movie competition. The Wellington film-making team ‘Traces of Nut’ will receive $100,000 to make a low budget feature, to premiere later this year.

"We’re absolutely chuffed to win the chance to make our movie," actor and writer Richard Falkner said today.

"It’s a great opportunity for us. It is going to be a crazy voyage translating our story into a film, the challenge is as exciting as it is daunting. We can’t wait to share the result!"

The Make My Movie project was created by Ant Timpson (48HOURS) and Hugh Sundae (NZherald.co.nz) in association with NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission. It was launched in September 2011 and had over 750 entries from around the country.

How to Meet Girls, written by Dean Hewison, Richard Falkner and Sam Dickson, is described as a funny and controversial spin on the rom-com with a likable protagonist who feels more comfortable meeting women by stalking them.

It was one of two finalists, beating out This Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy, about two friends who find themselves teleported into the real world of a low budget sci fi movie.

In an interview on The Big Idea late last year, via Vanessa Patea from The Learning Connection, Richard Falkner said they entered the competition because they love making movies, have a 48HOURS team that works well together, can tell a decent story, and make it look good. "And low budget suits us down to the ground.

"From green light to premiere the winner will only have two and a half months to prep, shoot, edit, score and grade their film, so it would be a colossal challenge just to get it done in time. BUT at the end of that period, you would find yourselves the proud parents of a bouncing baby film.”

Here’s more from that interview and their latest webisode below.

Tell us about your film pitch

Our finalist film is called How to Meet Girls From a Distance. It’s a romantic comedy, but with a bit of a kink… the main character, a well-meaning chap called Toby, has had traumatic experiences introducing himself to girls, and as such has had to develop his own alternative to getting to know prospective girlfriends. The catch is, these girlfriends have no idea Toby exists, as he is getting to know them from afar. Toby has discovered that he has a much higher success rate of landing himself a date if he knows as much about a woman as he possibly can. Society calls it stalking, he calls it research. Toby has notes on several girls with whom he’s in various stages of courtship (whether they know it or not). While at a wedding, Toby spots the girl of his dreams. He’s instantly taken with her, and knows that this is the girl that all his skills have been building towards. Can he learn what he needs to woo her? And if he does, what does he have to learn to actually keep her?

The film is a rom-com, but it’s also about stalking, will it be a little creepy?

It will be hilariously creepy! But with a lot of heart. Toby is a genuine guy, who is looking for love, not just a quick shag. He doesn’t see himself as crossing the line, especially since for him, the end justifies the means – if you’re lucky enough to find love, who cares how you looked for it? But Toby will learn that not everybody thinks he’s as harmless as he thinks he is. The last thing we want to do is make a movie that glamorises stalking – we do, however, want to explore the different moral shades of grey, and do it in a way that makes the audience laugh.

Do you think you can make a film for $100,000?

Definitely. In fact Dean did one for $5000 once. By the laws of mathematics, this film would be exactly 20 times easier than that one.

What can you imagine going wrong?

Obviously on a budget this tight, you have to keep everything very simple. It would be easy to think ‘We have $100,000, let’s spend that little bit extra on lights, or hire a fancy camera.’ But when you discover you have to re-shoot it, you have to spend that extra again. The costs will add up fast, and it is going to have to be as quick a shoot as we can get away with, to keep our daily rates down. If you don’t go hell for leather from the first day, you probably aren’t going to make it to the finish line. On that note, the whole cast and crew are going to be under an enormous amount of pressure, so the winning team will have to be careful not to have explosions on set, and work extremely conscientiously with one another… One walk-out and you could be stuffed!

How do you come up with a killer script?

Start with a killer idea! Dean and I have been meeting regularly and brainstorming ideas for years, and you get to know the scent of a winner. One golden rule is to never underestimate your audience. They get it! If you think something is sitting slightly wrong, or someone is doing something that seems out character, change it. Ultimately, don’t compromise on the road to having a good time!

What are your day jobs?

By day I work at the New Zealand Film Archive, conserving old kiwi films. It rules! I get to handle and edit all sorts of old stuff, from 1920s home movies to the early Film Commission films, and everything in between. Also I freelance sound/music production, and I act too. Dean is an asset coordinator at Weta Digital, as well as a playwright.

So how long have you two been an item?

Dean sought (stalked?) me out for a play he directed at BATS in 2007 called Brain Power. Since then we’ve been doing all sorts of projects together. Oh, you mean like that… We actually both have lady friends, so obviously are trying to keep that sort of info on the downlow.

  • Further Info

Make My Movie

Make My Movie’s primary goal was to expand on the 48HOURS film competition model and to promote creativity with people submitting ideas for feature films. An online web-series has been following the entire process and will continue through to the completion of the low budget feature film.

Make My Movie was funded via the Digital Content Partnership of NZ On Air with additional funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

How to Meet Girls From a Distance on Facebok

Video Pitch: How To Meet Girls From A Distance from Hugh Sundae on Vimeo.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

26 Jan 2012

The Big Idea Editor