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On location . . . Leithfield film producer Nadia Maxwell on the set of her first feature film, psychological thriller “Human Traces”, with writer/director Nic Gorman, centre, and camera assistant Kirk Pflaum in the Catlins, on the south eastern coast of the South Island. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By SHELLEY TOPP

A psychological thriller with a South Island flavour and a local North Canterbury producer, has its world premiere on the big screen in Christchurch.

And the film’s producer, Leithfield’s Nadia Maxwell, is thrilled her first feature film “Human Traces”, will be screened during the New Zealand International Film Festival in Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal.

“It is really lovely having it in Christchurch because it is a real South Island-driven film. We are really proud that it is a South Island project,” Nadia said.

The premiere on August 4 will be a red carpet affair with cast, crew, supporters, family and friends attending.

“The Theatre Royal is such an incredible venue. We definitely want to make it a big night,” Nadia said.

“It is a huge venue but we would love to sell out. Hopefully we can.”

The film, which was completed in January this year, is also a debut feature for writer and director Nic Gorman who was originally from Christchurch but now lives in Wellington.

It was filmed on location in the Catlins, on the south eastern coast of the South Island, and Banks Peninsula, during a tight 24-day shoot.

It tells the story of a husband and wife scientist team working on an isolated subantarctic island.

When a mysterious young man arrives at the remote research station, secrets threaten the couple’s relationship in the hostile wilderness.

Nadia enjoys collaborating on original and ambitious projects that “get people talking about ourselves and about the world we live in” and is excited to have her first feature film completed.

“It is such a long journey making a film.

“It is really great to be at a point where we are ready to share it with audiences,” she said.

“Nic came to me five years ago with a five-page idea.”

It followed a successful collaboration with their award-winning short film “Here Be Monsters”, a family drama set in the world of a zombie apocalypse.

“Here Be Monsters” won the best short film at the New Zealand Film Awards in 2013, the audience award at the Colorado Stanley Film festival in 2013, best screenplay at New Zealand’s Show Me Shorts festival in 2013, and the script was shortlisted for the Sundance Foundation’s Sloan Fellowship.

Nadia’s role as a producer is a complex one with many strands to pull together, including assembling the team to make the film and raising funds to finance it.

“I heard a good analogy recently about how to explain the producer’s role. If you think of a rugby team the director is like the captain and the producer is like the coach. Being a producer is certainly having the will to get something done and then convincing a thousand other people to help you,” she said.

“As a producer you stand at the intersection of art and commerce. There are many collaborators and moving parts along the way and your job is to keep the bigger picture overview and keep everything moving in the right direction.”
Living in a small, relatively remote rural area was no hindrance to her work, she said.

“So long as you have good Internet connection really you can be anywhere in the world. Film making is a privilege and we love it but there is a lot of stress involved as well. We love living out here.

“It is such a fabulous community and you are more directly connected to nature which is fantastic for the kids as well. It is a lovely antidote to a busy life.”
New Zealand was a wonderful place to make films, she said.

“For such a small country it has such a great name.”
All the post production work on “Human Traces” was done at Sir Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production facility in Wellington.

“It is the most magnificent place to work. All the technology is completely high spec. So when you are talking to people about bringing productions here we have these incredible locations and we have this world class post-production facility which makes us attractive I think.”

Tickets for the Christchurch programme of the New Zealand International Film Festival, August 3 to August 20, went on sale last Monday and can be bought from the New Zealand Film Festival website.