The New Zealand film industry thrives with an independent spirit. In a sense, the industry is ‘run by volunteers’. Because many are willing to lend their services to the cause. Its possible that an aspiring filmmaker with a short film on their agenda will benefit. Industry professionals maintain the gap between logic and charity. As a result, local filmmakers find the community approachable and ask for help. In an attempt to generate funding for their short film Shades of Gray, producer Rachel Wills and director Vanessa Wood appeared on ALT Television last Sunday. They offered viewers the opportunity to get directly involved with the making of a New Zealand short film. And invited the New Zealand community at large to offer their personal touch. The pair inspire confidence. And promise to channel their expertise into a heartfelt story that people can relate to.
‘Shades of Gray’ is a gripping drama about a young woman’s struggle to reunite with an orthodox Christian family she no longer feels part of. The reunion goes pear shaped when the woman finds herself pregnant and dumped by her boyfriend, just as her mother predicted. Fear of total rejection by her family prevents the young woman from trusting them with the truth about her predicament and instead, she faces the hardest moral decision of her life alone and in a race against time.
Having already secured private investment, they ask the public for their involvement. Their production company Raw Films supports an interactive web based initiative. Once willing contributors log onto their website they can help in exchange for screen credit and an invitation to the film’s premiere. Rachel and Vanessa will be eternally grateful to contributors who donate money, provide labour or gift items on their wishlist. You can even help provide the necessary support for New Zealand woman, as Rachel and Vanessa promise to give 10% of the film’s profit to charity.
I appeared on air with Rachel and Vanessa. And what immediately struck me was their passion and their commitment to socially aware storytelling. The company name ‘Raw Films’ signals to me, something paired back, truthful, or more broadly, the grass root, independent spirit. There’s a clear vision at work here. A story about abortion that isn’t told in the same vein as hokey television movies, tugging on heartstrings with soapy visuals. Vanessa has something much more neutral up her sleeves, something unassuming. And I don’t think its her intention to imitate the indie cool vibe that so often courts the Sundance Film Festival, like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. So watch this space. Because I sincerely hope they reach their financial goal and the project can accelerate from production and beyond, to where the New Zealand audience can experience an artfully told story. And I certainly hope we can be proud to call it Kiwi.
Written by Lewis Bostock
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