#1277 Mark and Louis – from Wellywood to Hollywood (bypassing Auckwood)

I hate to brag, but last night I watched a film at Peter Jackson’s personal cinema inside Park Road Studios in Wellington. We were there to toast Mark and Louis – the men behind award winning short films Run and The Six Dollar Fifty Man. I must have missed the memo on this one, because before this trip was planned I’d never heard of them or their films, but they’re hitting the big time – Run and The Six Dollar Fifty Man won Honourable Mention and Jury’s Choice prizes at Cannes – making them the first directors in the festival’s history to win both awards award back to back.

Run played first; a gritty, kitchen sink type piece about a troubled, over-expectant Samoan widower and his two young children working together to escape his wrath – most times failing, sometimes winning.

Next was The Six Dollar Fifty Man; still gritty, but this time laced with a tragic Napoleon Dynamite comic edge. The film tells the story of a runty eight year old outcast who believes he has superhero powers. It’s a gut-wrenching, cringe-inducing, hilarious and ultimately heart warming tale about triumphing against all odds – namely school bullies and teachers – with the aid of one kind classmate.

“We want to tell stories,” the pair said after the screening, “New Zealand stories about New Zealanders, created in New Zealand.” “Run was my story,” said Louis. “It took a long time for me to come to terms with telling it but Mark convinced me to. I’ve never looked back.” Mark later admitted to being the wannabe superhero in The Six Dollar Fifty Man.

But we weren’t in Wellington just for kicks; there was a purpose behind the party. Mark and Louis are in need of supplementary funds to film their first feature, titled Shopping (from what I’ve heard, it’s about teenaged shoplifters). They believe that their approach to film-making is different from the typical under-funded New Zealand scenario, and it’s one that has paid dividends – the numerous awards lining their mantel is fairly conclusive proof. The extra money will allow for essential pre-production elements like workshopping with the actors and script development.

The funds will also go towards supporting the pair as they travel the film festival circuit. Directors take their films to festivals in the hope of generating enough points to make them eligible for an Oscar nomination. (Always wondered how films you’ve never heard of make the cut? There’s your answer.) Mark and Louis need one more win to put them in the running for the Academy Award. There are four more festivals to go this year. I like those odds.

Mark, Oscar Vandy-Connor and Louis

Oscar Vandy-Connor, the young star of The Six Dollar Fifty Man was in attendance at the after party, and turned out to be quite the antithesis to his awkward character in the film. He strolled around the room chatting up girls, all the while sipping on an alcohol free Manhattan in a martini glass. When asked for a photo he replied, “Not unless I get a dollar out of Mark and Louis!” Needless to say, they both obliged. I only hope that all you budding philanthropists will follow suit and donate to their cause.

Click here to get into contact with Mark and Louis.

**My flight and accommodation were funded by my good friends at Telecom – who also sponsor Mark and Louis. Thanks Telecom!

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