Paving the way for future filmmakers

It may not have the Wellywood sign, but Mike Wallis’ self-funded feature Good for Nothing is proof of the filmmaking prowess and unaccountable benefits for films produced in the capital.

Good for Nothing's high production values and rave reviews in the US are further evidence of the ripple effects started by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

Writer-director Wallis and his leading lady, Inge Rademeyer, chose to forgo their house deposit and instead spend the $80,000 on New Zealand’s first Western.

 Their investment paid off when the polished film became the country's first self-funded film to gain US distribution – tapping into a very lucrative market.

 Wallis credits the film’s polish, despite a miniscule budget, to experience gained at Miramar’s Weta Digital and access to knowledge from some industry greats.

 “Everything that Peter [Jackson] and Richard [Taylor] do provides for us a learning ground. When they bring others in, like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, it’s such a high calibre of influence,” says Wallis.

 The New Zealand film industry is worth around $2.8 billion annually, but it is this “unaccountable knowledge transfer” that he says will foster a new generation of Peter Jacksons.

The director had to take a beg/borrow/steal approach and “bought a lot off TradeMe and made a mobile film unit".

Despite the six-year process, from script drafting to the world premiere at the Santa Barbara International film festival, Wallis is sure many others can follow in his footsteps

“We have a very bright future of film in NZ; it used to be about just the landscapes, but now we have the people and the facilities to support production right throughout” he says.

Film production, like any entrepreneurial business in New Zealand, succeeds when talent and determination dare to make bold moves.

“We don’t have any regrets about putting all of our chips on the table. I learnt from Peter Jackson the importance of having such a deep affection for what you do,” says Wallis.

Good for Nothing opens nationally on May 3.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).