From gopher to film star in 48 hours

A film-maker’s 10-year-old daughter proved the star of the show in his award-winning short film.

Dean Hewison, along with writers Sam Dickson and Richard Falkner, won the Wellington region of the Rialto Channel 48Hours Furious Film-Making Challenge with crime movie The Sleeping Plot.

The film stars Hewison’s daughter, Nova Waretini-Hewison, who was initially enlisted to help out with “taking coffee orders and seeing what people wanted on their toast”. But as the team (called Traces of Nut) developed their script, they realised they had a strong story focusing on a 10-year-old girl who will do anything to find her missing best friend.

The entire film, which Hewison describes as a “very black comedy” is shot from her perspective so no adult faces are seen. Nova’s performance was so strong, she won the best actress title at Wellington’s finals last month and is attending the national finals along with the rest of the cast and crew. “She blew me away,” Hewison says. “She did a stunning job . . . when she won, it was the proudest moment of my life.”

He says the team knew they had made something special, but they were thrilled to win the Wellington title.

Traces of Nut have entered the competition every year since its inception – except last year, when they were busy making feature film How to Meet Girls From a Distance.

The romantic comedy was made possible after the crew won the Make My Movie Feature Film Competition and was part of last year’s New Zealand International Film Festival before being released nationwide.

Hewison, 33, says he enjoys the pace of the 48Hours competition.

“I love the fact that over the course of a weekend you can put together something that would ordinarily take a couple of months to make with funding applications and paying people, that sort of stuff because it’s really expensive.

“It’s more achievable. At the end of a weekend you’ve got a result one way or another.”

The team are working on another feature film but Hewison says they will always enter the 48Hours competition.

“I pretty much think 48Hours has been our film school playground for the last 10 years. Every year we just try and improve on what we did last year and we’re steadily getting better and better and better.”

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The 2013 grand final ceremony is in Auckland at the Civic Theatre tomorrow night.