David Whittet's Blog
Family Physician and Film Maker

Interview in the New Zealand Rural GP Network News

NGRGPN Network News Cover

Movies and medicine have been my life. Friends and journalists often ask me which is the closest to my heart. I invariably answer that I am equally passionate about both cinema and general practice. The common thread is an abiding interest in people’s stories. I discussed this in this in an interview with Rob Olsen in the current issue of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network News.

Read the interview in the current issue of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network News

The Waifs of Waitara

edge
One of the most rewarding aspects of film making is discovering new talent. As well as Nikki and The Descendants, these two girls graced the screen with heartrending performances.
Our Waifs of Waitara will be stars of tomorrow!

Shooting the Hīkoi Music Video

edge
Shooting the Hīkoi music video this afternoon, was an awesome experience. The stage of the Waitara High School came alive as Nikki Te Ataarangi Brand and The Descendants performed the powerful and dramatic song that speaks so eloquently for the underprivileged of our world.
With the performance in the can, we took to the streets of Waitara to film some poignant scenes, which amplify and enhance the message of the song.
I remain convinced this song will soon be taking the music scene by storm!

Hīkoi Music Video to Shoot in Taranaki in August 2015

edge
It takes more than a polar blast to deter dedicated film makers, and I am delighted to report that we are back on track with the Hīkoi music video. Nikki Te Ataarangi Brand and the band are ready and waiting, together with some aspiring child actors. Excitement is running high with an intensive shoot scheduled for 8 & 9 August in Taranaki.
The response to our previous posts has been overwhelming, and we look forward to bringing you a compelling piece of cinema!

Tekapo Promotional Shoot

edge
As the Amiri & Aroha novel approaches publication, I have been engaged in some promotional shoots at significant real life locations which feature in the story.
The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo must surely be the most beautiful church in New Zealand, and it plays a significant role in the developing drama.
Look out for some more pictures from our road trip to outstanding Amiri & Aroha locations.

Revisions and rewrites

edge
Amiri & Aroha
is truly a project that refuses to end. My recent post was premature. With a major rewrite complete and book editing underway, I thought I was putting the finishing touches on the novel.
On reflection, there are still critical areas that could be improved. The three opening chapters have proved particularly challenging as they differ significantly from the films and cover a considerable amount of new material that we were unable to shoot in the original pilot film.
The most rewarding aspect is that with each successive revision, the book becomes stronger and closer to being ready for publication. I am again indebted to my mentor, Joyce Cocchi for her advice and suggestions on making these crucial first chapters as compelling as possible.
With the prospect of a new and fully funded film series ahead, I feel confident that Amiri & Aroha will be keeping me occupied for a long time into the future!

Shooting of the Hīkoi Music Video Delayed by Polar Blast!

nikki3
We are delighted at the enthusiastic response to our announcement of Nikki Te Ataarangi Brand's powerful song. Sadly, plans to shoot the Hīkoi music video have been interrupted by the polar blast that has hit New Zealand over the past few days. We were due to film in Taranaki, but record rainfall and gale force winds meant abandoning the shoot.
Film making is intense. There is huge excitement amongst cast and crew when the cameras are ready to roll. Equally the disappointment is tremendous when circumstances beyond our control delay the project, which is particularly disheartening for new and emerging artists.
I am convinced that our music video will bring Nikki's work to the world stage, and I can't wait to reschedule the filming! Our video will make an eloquent statement about poverty and inequality, and we hope it will cause a stir on the international music festival scene.
In the meantime, negotiations with potential funders and supporters are underway, and some major announcements will be coming soon!

Previz for the Hīkoi Music Video


Pre-production for the Hīkoi music video has been intense. I have been matching images to Nikki’s striking lyrics, and I hope that the combination of the music with potent visuals will bring home the reality of child poverty.
Have a look at this clip to get an idea of the scenes we are hoping to capture.

Hīkoi Music Video - Introducing Nikki Ataarangi Brand

edge
I have just been listening to a demo track for an emotionally charged song that speaks powerfully and eloquently for the underprivileged of our world.
Nikki Te Ataarangi Brand has written a truly inspirational song for my new film Hīkoi. The profound and thought provoking lyrics reflect the message of Hīkoi and the music will beautifully enhance the mood of the film.
The song is a potent reminder of the inequalities that surround us, and I am excited about shooting a music video with Nikki and her band.
The video will feature Nikki as a street musician and show vignettes of poverty through the eyes of the musician. Working on the storyboard convinces me that the music video will be a compelling piece of cinema.
Nikki is an awesome talent, and I hope that Hīkoi will prove her big break.

An Adventure that stubbornly refuses to end

edge
Tonight I have put the finishing touches to the Amiri & Aroha novel and it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on a project that has taken over my life for the past decade. When I first developed the concept for a one-off independent short film, little did I think I would still be working on it over ten years later, let alone continuing to find new and exciting plot twists!
The success of the original film on the international film festival circuit, which started with a win at the Best Shorts competition, began an amazing journey that stubbornly refuses to come to an end. With so much added depth and complexity, the novel has enough intrigue for another trilogy at the very least!
I again wish to acknowledge the contribution of everyone who has shared this journey with me. I am eternally grateful to the cast and crew of the film trilogy, whose faith in the project helped to turn my dreams into reality.
I extend my most sincere thanks to my mentors, Joyce Cocchi, Warren Philp and Nicky Sinclair, who have read and reread the novel through countless drafts and rewrites and provided me with expert feedback. I am especially thankful to Joyce who has been an unfailing source of advice and inspiration.

An extraordinary journey draws to a conclusion

edge
Another stage of an extraordinary journey is almost at an end. After months of intensive work, writing and re-writing, the novel of Amiri & Aroha is virtually complete. It is almost time to hand the project over to a book editor as the road to publication begins!
Thank you again to everyone who has supported me throughout this amazing voyage of discovery. Your enthusiasm has been a tremendous inspiration. I would like to add a special word of thanks to everyone who has been in touch asking about the DVD release. It is immensely satisfying to all of us who worked on the films that so many of you want to get hold of your own copies of the trilogy. Regretfully, I have to ask you to be patient just a little longer. Negotiations are continuing with potential distribution partners and they have requested that we delay the DVD/Blu-ray release until after distribution is secured. We promise you it will be worth the wait! Watch out for a major release to coincide with publication of the novel!
In the meantime, Amiri has its own stylish new website at www.amiriandaroha.com. Why not check it out? There's a lot to enjoy, including cool new photo galleries with some hitherto unpublished behind the scenes pictures.
With my work on the novel nearly finished, I am heading back to the cutting room to work on the book trailer. Some of the images accompanying my recent posts show a selection of the graphics I have produced specially for the trailer, with a definite literary feel and will draw the story out of the page. A trailer is a specialised short film and at its best, a work of art in its own right.
It’s great to be in the editing suite again, creating movies. Keep watching this blog for an awesome trailer in the very near future!

The Serpent of Lake Wakatipu is about to strike!

edge
The serpent of Lake Wakatipu is about to strike as Max and the Monster heads into production!

A recent recce in Queenstown, for a short film Max and the Monster, has proved a welcome relief from the intense work on the Amiri & Aroha novel and pre-production on Hīkoi.
A long cherished project, Max and the Monster was born out of a pitch I made for the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign back in 2009. The concept was for a three minute film to promote New Zealand as the youngest country on Earth.
Max and the Monster is the story of an arrogant, unprincipled American film director who is in New Zealand to front the Tourism Board’s latest ad campaign. Max has persuaded the board to have a loveable monster fronting the campaign, Aramoana, the serpent of Lake Wakatipu. But when the monster becomes more aggressive and less loveable, the trouble begins… The film is a comedy with a serious edge; Max has an apocalyptic life changing experience on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Amiri & Aroha then took over and Max and the Monster went onto the back burner. The time feels right to resurrect the project. After the rigours of the trilogy, a short film is particularly appealing. Especially if sales of the film help to finance Hīkoi!

The Further Adventures of Amiri & Aroha

edge
Writing the Amiri & Aroha novel has been a wonderful experience. I have taken the characters created in the films to new levels and travelled with them on new adventures and experiences. Yet the journey has not been entirely without its downside. Working on the book has been a constant and painful reminder of the constraints of micro budget independent film making. Throughout my work on the novel, I have kept imagining what a wonderful film could be made with the depth and characterisation I have added in the book.
After discussing these thoughts with one of our distribution partners, I found myself crafting a new screenplay, incorporating all the new material and profundity from the novel. I am currently talking to film funding agencies about the possibility of shooting this new script with a full unit.
In a previous post, I suggested that the Amiri & Aroha story is just reaching its most exciting phase. I am now taking that thought one stage further.
2015 will be the year of Amiri & Aroha!