David Whittet Films Blog
Independent New Zealand Film Production

Calling all budding singer-songwriters!

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I am looking for a talented musician to write a song to promote Hīkoi!
Hīkoi is my new film project, a gritty New Zealand drama inspired by the child poverty debate. I am planning a music video to promote the project and the song will also feature prominently on the film’s soundtrack.
Ideally, I am looking for a song in the style of Streets of London, with an urban New Zealand setting. The lyrics should convey vignettes reflecting child poverty and related issues including unemployment and Māori health inequalities.
This could be an amazing opportunity for an up and coming musician/singer-song writer. My previous films have won numerous awards on the international film festival circuit and music from these films has been acknowledged at the Global Music Awards.
If you are interested, I would love to hear from you. If you know someone who is waiting for their big break in the music industry, please forward this post to them!

Amiri & Aroha: A remarkable Journey

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Creating the Amiri & Aroha trilogy has been a remarkable journey. I have met so many wonderful people along the way and forged such tremendous friendships, bonds that will last a lifetime.
Over the past few months, I have been privileged to make that journey for a second time, as I craft the novel based on the film trilogy.
Writing the novel has been a tremendous voyage of discovery. I have lived and breathed the story anew. I have shared in the characters’ joys and grieved with them in their sadness.
The book affords me the opportunity to tell the story as I had originally envisaged it, without the restrictions inherent in the making of a micro budget independent film.
Despite those enormous constraints, financial and otherwise, which were imposed on us during the making of the trilogy, the films continue to garner awards and engage film festival audiences throughout the world.
I extend my sincerest thanks to all those who have been in touch to ask when you will be able to see the trilogy. Rest assured I have been working hard behind the scenes to secure distribution, both for broadcast and a theatrical release. I have been working on some enhancements to the films, following feedback from film festival judges, our distribution partners and, of course, our wonderful World Premiere audience. I am grateful to you all for your unfailing support.
In so many ways, the Amiri and Aroha story is reaching its most exciting phase. Keep watching this blog!

Inspiration form the Child Poverty Debate - My Next Project Hīkoi

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Child poverty was a major issue in the recent New Zealand general election and watching some of the political debates stirred memories of a script I wrote some years back. Updated with an urban Māori setting, Hīkoi promises to be a gritty, hard hitting drama with an important message.


With the completion of the Amiri & Aroha trilogy, my thoughts have been turning to my next project. Whilst my publishers constantly remind me that I need to get to work on the novelisation of Amiri & Aroha, film making is so deeply engrained in my DNA that I a get very restless when I am without a film project.
Under the working title Hīkoi, my next film will be an emotive and uncompromising look at some profoundly troubling issues, wrapped up in a deeply affecting story.

Rere's Children wins at the Accolade Global Film Competition

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Amiri & Aroha
continues to take the international film festival circuit by storm with an Award of Merit for Rere’s Children at the Accolade Global Film Competition. We have won four international awards in as many months and the trilogy has now won a total of eleven major awards in international competition.

Since the premiere, the Amiri & Aroha trilogy has constantly been amongst the top rated films released in 2014 throughout the world on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb). Thank you to all who have had the chance to see the films and have voted us so highly.
We are hoping to give a much wider audience the opportunity to see the the trilogy in the near future, as we continue to explore distribution options.

Another Major Award for Amiri's Child

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Amiri & Aroha continues to take the international film festival circuit by storm with another major award for Amiri’s Child at the IndieFest.

Hot on the heels of an Award of Excellence in the Accolade Global Film Competition, Amiri’s Child has won an Award of Merit at the prestigious IndieFest Film Awards. Our third award in as many months keeps Amiri & Aroha up there with Hollywood’s greatest and with our latest win, in the company of the world’s foremost independent film makers.
As the organisers of the IndieFest are quick to point out, “IndieFest awardees have won Oscars & Emmys!”

IMDb Trivia puts Amiri's Child back in the news!

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Explosive images: this sequence where Miriama (Ebony Tuhaka) announces the acquisition of a fictional Mighty River Power quickly went viral when released on YouTube last year!


A new trivia item on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb) puts Amiri’s Child back in the headlines!

When preview audiences first saw Amiri’s Child last year, they were quick to point out parallels with the government’s sale of shares in the power industry. Political advocates of all persuasions saw in Amiri’s Child an allegory of what can happen when the power industry is itself engulfed in a power struggle. The David and Goliath battle between Arapeta and Koriata continues to promote discussion on asset sales.

This is particularly relevant at the present time in the run up to the New Zealand General Election. Amiri’s Child is once again central to the cut and thrust of political debate!

The goal throughout the Amiri & Aroha trilogy has been to produce top class, engrossing entertainment which is also compelling cinema, tackling important contemporary issues and giving audiences something to think about and something to talk about.

Check out the story on the IMDb trivia page here.

Rere's Children the highest rated film released in 2014 on IMDb!

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Rere’s Children has launched on the Internet Movie Data Base and today is the highest rated feature film released in 2014 in the World!

Sincere thanks to all who have enjoyed the movie at its premiere and voted us into this extraordinarily prestigious position!

Gisborne Herald Coverage of our premiere



Check out this video which Ben Cowper made for the Gisborne Herald at our premiere.

Our sincere thanks to Ben and the Gisborne Herald for their tremendous support over the years we have been working on Amiri & Aroha!

Check out also the recent coverage of Amiri & Aroha in the Gisborne Herald here.

World Premiere Photo Gallery

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The World Premiere of the Amiri & Aroha trilogy was truly a night I will never forget! After over five years of work on the trilogy, it was an amazing experience to share this story with an audience!

I am overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback I have received since the premiere. So many of our guests have told me they were gripped by the story and have taken it to their hearts. Thank you all for your kind words!

Check out our photo gallery from this momentous occasion here.

Amiri & Aroha comes to Hobbiton

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Amiri & Aroha comes to Hobbiton!

Continuing my promotional road trip around New Zealand, we have been visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata in the heart of the Waikato.

The Hobbiton set is a magic experience with many fascinating insights into the film making process. Highly recommended to all film makers and fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Amiri & Aroha World Premiere is a resounding success!

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Thank you to everyone who helped make our World Premiere such a resounding success. It was great to have so many of the cast and crew at the premiere and we had a wonderful reunion.

I was overwhelmed by the support of the Gisborne public. The Dome Cinema was packed to capacity and the staff worked overtime to cook pizzas for everyone!

I really appreciate all the kind comments you have all made about the films. We will be posting an album of photographs from the Premiere in the next few days. In the meantime, a very big thank you again to everyone who helped make my dream come true!

The Red Carpet is Rolled out

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Walter (The Wiz) Walsh and Mark Whittet roll out the red carpet for tonight’s World Premiere.

The final preparations are complete, the red carpet is rolled out and our guests are about to arrive!

World Premiere tonight!

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I have lived and breathed the story of Amiri & Aroha over the past five years. Likewise, our cast have lived with their characters over our extended shoots. Today we will share our story with the world!

Amiri & Aroha is the talk of the town in Gisborne!

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Excitement is reaching fever pitch with the premiere just 24 hours away!

Just about everyone in Gisborne knows somebody who worked on the trilogy and Amiri & Aroha is the talk of the town.

Let the combined magic of the Dome Cinema and the Amiri & Aroha trilogy entrance you at 6 pm tomorrow!

Dome Premiere 2 Detail

Road trip to the Premiere

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A moment’s reflection on the trilogy on the shores of Lake Waikopiro in Hawke’s Bay.


With the premiere just days away, all roads are leading to Gisborne for this auspicious event!

I’ve been on a promotional road trip for trilogy, sailing over Cook Strait on the Interislander, a quick stop in Wellington to check out the Embassy Cinema and some press interviews en route!

The atmosphere in Gisborne is magic with a tremendous buzz in the city. Everyone seems to be anticipating the Premiere!

Yes, Gisborne is definitely the place to be on Saturday night!

The Most Beautiful Award in the Industry!

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The Accolade statuette is a constellation of 24K gold stars mounted on a piano finished base of rosewood. It has been called the most beautiful award in the industry.

Life has been a whirlwind in the last few weeks with the excitement of two major awards in Hollywood and preparations for the World Premiere. But it has also been an opportunity for reflection. When I first conceived the idea of Amiri & Aroha back in 2008, I had no idea of the extraordinary journey that was about to begin. All artistic endeavours have moments of both agony and ecstasy and the trilogy has certainly had more than its fair share of trauma, anxiety and sleepless nights! Yet the reward of watching the dream take shape and gradually become reality makes all the stress seem immaterial. And the joy of completing the films and sharing them with an audience is without equal.

But most important of all, I have met so many wonderful people making the trilogy. It has been a delight to work with such talented people on both sides of the camera and I have made wonderful friends during production - friendships which will last a lifetime. I look forward to catching up with as many of you as possible at the premiere.

Read our latest Press Release announcing the new awards.

The Countdown to the Premiere is on!



The clock is ticking, the Premiere is just days away!

But if you absolutely can’t wait, you can always check out our First Look Videos!

Gisborne History Lives on in Amiri & Aroha!

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Local history lives on in the Amiri & Aroha trilogy! The building with blood coming from the walls has gone!

The location for this dramatic scene in Rere’s Children has been demolished. The dark mood of this sequence was heightened by the chilling location, the sinister and eerie atmosphere had a profound effect on the cast and crew, who swore they could see blood oozing from the walls...

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Koriata (John Stainton) and Miriama (Ebony Tuhaka) play out an intense scene at an iconic location that is no more. Lost forever, now only to be seen in the Amiri & Aroha trilogy.

Can't wait for the Premiere? Check out these first look videos!



The premiere is now just seven days away, but if you can’t wait, check out our trailers and previews on our Video Portfolio page.

Koriata’s Dilemma is the latest addition to the collection. This key sequence from Rere's Children sees a desperate Koriata (John Stainton) face his inner demons. Koriata’s Way was an early working title for the final film in the Amiri & Aroha trilogy. Koriata’s journey from the son of a gang president to a business leader and company director is no ordinary rags to riches story. Koriata’s desire to shed his gangland roots and follow his own path is fraught with danger and will reveal some sinister secrets.

Nine days away - premiere arrangements confirmed

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With the World Premiere of the Amiri & Aroha trilogy now just nine days away, we all getting very excited and I am delighted to announce the final arrangements for this auspicious event.

The premiere will take place at the Dome Cinema in Gisborne on Saturday 19 July at 6 pm.

It is with great pleasure that we invite everyone who took part in the film to the premiere. We discovered so much new talent in Gisborne and this will be a showcase of your work. We will be sending invitations to all the cast and crew over the next couple of days.

I am especially pleased that we are able to host the premiere in Gisborne and members of the public will be most welcome to attend the premiere for a cost of $10 at the door. We are very grateful to the Gisborne community for their support of our project and hope that as many as possible will take the opportunity to be the first to experience this local production which is destined for the world.

Bar and refreshments will be available at the Dome Cinema (at own cost), treats including a tempting selection of pizza and ice cream.

We are particularly grateful to Sally and Katy at the Dome Cinema for hosting our very special night. Please support the Dome – it’s a local treasure!

If you took part in the film and have not received an invitation by the end of this week, please email me at davidwhittet@mac.com.

The Premiere is just ten days away!

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It seems a lifetime since we launched the pilot film at Gisborne’s iconic Dome Cinema on 9 October 2011. Since that auspicious event, the original film has been reshot and two further films made to complete the trilogy. The films have gone on to win multiple awards and commendations at intentional film festivals worldwide. At last we are ready to bring this amazing story to the world. We are holding the premiere in the heart of Gisborne to enable local people to be the first to experience this cinematic phenomenon!

The Dome Cinema will once again host our premiere. The Dome is truly unique, with a magical atmosphere and the ideal venue for our premiere:

“The Dome room has long had a reputation for bewitching its guests. Lingering between the pools of soft light glowing down from the domes, wondering where in the world they are. Many think of her thick red carpet, they've kicked off many a shoe to dance bare foot where billiard balls once fell in boisterous games of old. Likewise, the Dome Cinema is a charming mixture of the modern and fun, of old elegance and romance. Somehow it makes you feel right at home.

We invite you to come cosy up with a drink, and a pizza. For some good old fashioned entertainment, an experience to engage the senses and capture the imagination, welcome to the Dome Cinema...”


We will be making the formal announcement regarding arrangements for the Premiere tomorrow and sending out invitations to the cast and crew. Members of the public will also be welcome for a nominal fee. Watch out for the post tomorrow!

World Premiere of the Amiri & Aroha trilogy announced



Gisborne New Zealand is the place to be on 19 July 2014!

This powerful and intense trailer sets the scene for the World Premiere of the complete Amiri & Aroha trilogy, as we follow the crystal ball's journey from the cosmos back to Gisborne in time for the premiere, which will take place at the Dome Cinema on 19 July 2014.

Amiri's Child up with Hollywood's Best!

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The Amiri & Aroha trilogy may have been made on a zero budget, but it is up there with Hollywood’s greatest with yet another major competition win.

Check out this link to the Accolade Competition website and you will see that we are in the company of Liam Neeson and the Oscar winner for Best Short Documentary.

Following hot on the heels of our Best Shorts award, the Award of Excellence for a Feature Film at the Accolade Competition for Amiri’s Child proves once more that world class products can be produced on a minuscule budget and can compete and win against fully funded productions. We are very proud to be named in the company of such distinguished film makers.

This award has come at a very opportune time with our World Premiere just a fortnight away at the Dome Cinema in Gisborne.

We are so excited to bring this iconic New Zealand story to the world!

Rere's Children Theatrical Trailer Released



Rere’s Children
is the stunning conclusion to the Amiri & Aroha trilogy. The heart wrenching finale to the saga is full of passion, intrigue and raw emotion!

In the best Amiri & Aroha tradition, this intense theatrical trailer provides a dramatic ride through the story a breakneck speed.

Enjoy the ride and we hope you will come and see the film. We can’t wait to bring this story to the world!

Creating an awesome trailer for Rere's Children

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With the countdown to the premiere of the Amiri & Aroha trilogy well underway, it has been back to burning the midnight oil for me, creating a trailer for Rere’s Children.

I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to the newly released trailers for Amiri & Aroha. This has also set me a formidable challenge, to make an even more dazzling trailer for Rere’s Children!

The trailer will be released tomorrow and promises to be another roller coaster ride of emotion, intrigue and passion, a montage of compelling images and intense music as we experience the story of Rere’s Children in just under three minutes!

Trivia: Amiri & Aroha and The Hobbit

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Amiri & Aroha has become the subject of a favourite trivia question at the very popular pub quiz nights up and down the country.

When we posted the unusual story of an inextricable link between Amiri & Aroha and The Hobbit in the Trivia Section on the Amiri & Aroha IMDb page, little did we expect that this would provoke such interest amongst quiz enthusiasts and become a hot topic for pub chatter.

Find out what all the intrigue is about here.

Amiri & Aroha on Trivial Pursuit? Who knows!

Amiri's Child arrives on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb)

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With our success at the Accolade Film Competition, Amiri's Child now has been granted a page on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb).

IMDb is the prime resource for film makers and audiences alike and achieving IMDb listing is a significant goal for all film makers.
Check out the Amiri's Child IMDb page here.

We have also updated the Amiri & Aroha IMDb page with the cool new trailers.
Check out the Amiri & Aroha IMDb page here.

Cool new trailers for Amiri & Aroha

With the completion of Rere’s Children, the countdown is on for the World Premiere of the complete Amiri & Aroha trilogy. As a result of our recent competition success, media interest in Amiri & Aroha is high and we have released two exciting new trailers for the original Amiri & Aroha film.



Theatrical Trailer
Amiri & Aroha began as a Maori take on Romeo and Juliet, set against a background of gang rivalry and tribal warfare, set on New Zealand's stunning East Cape.
This dramatic theatrical trailer highlights Aroha's rite of passage as she tries to escape her gangland origins. Amiri is a hotshot businessman from the big smoke of Auckland, who promises Aroha a new life away from the gang. But Aroha is haunted by a childhood ceremony, which threatens to prevent her from ever breaking free of the gang.
We hope this minute plus trailer gives a flavour of Aroha's tumultuous journey!


Teaser Trailer
The dramatic opening (or overture) to Amiri & Aroha forms the basis of this award winning teaser trailer. A fiery cauldron of images, a roller coaster ride through the story of Amiri & Aroha in just under three minutes!

Check out all our first look and blog videos on our portfolio page.

The Broken Promises music video is released



Broken Promises
is the evocative music video that accompanies the award winning Amiri & Aroha film trilogy.

Rising star Alyssha Maynard performs her original composition at the iconic Rere waterfalls, the principal location for Amiri & Aroha.

Alyssha's poignant song takes us on a breathtaking journey through the trilogy. We meet the mystic Koka, a Maori soothsayer haunted by her past, and Aroha, the daughter of a notorious gang leader who is determined to escape from the gang and an arranged marriage to her cousin Hunapo.

Amiri & Aroha is a Maori take on Romeo and Juliet, set on New Zealand's stunning East Cape. Aroha meets Amiri, a hot shot businessman from the big smoke of Auckland, who promises Aroha a new life away from the gang. But Hunapo, a gang leader in waiting, refuses to let go of Aroha and threatens to kill her if she goes ahead with the marriage to Amiri.

Through spellbinding music and images, we share Aroha's desperate right of passage, a voyage from darkness to light as she struggles to find her own way in life.

Alyssha Maynard's music beautifully captures the spirit of Amiri & Aroha and is a perfect prelude to the trilogy.

Amiri's Child wins Best Shorts Award

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The ground breaking overture to Amiri’s Child has won a prestigious Best Shorts award!

Back in 2011, I got my big break with an award for Amiri & Aroha at the prestigious Best Shorts Competition. It feels like we’ve been on a roll since that momentous occasion with Amiri & Aroha garnering an increasing collection of awards on the international film festival circuit. So it is particularly rewarding to see Amiri’s Child, the second film in the trilogy, continuing to create a stir with festival audiences and especially rewarding that it has won another Best Shorts award.

I am especially pleased to have won the latest Best Shorts award for the overture, an innovative pre-titles sequence, a two-and-a-half minute roller coaster ride with a cauldron of explosive images of the story that is about to unfold.

In an age where we are bombarded with fast and furious images in the media, on television and on the internet, it can be hard for the film maker to seize the audience's attention. In the digital age, we must find new ways to create atmosphere and captivate our audiences and I believe an overture can be a powerful device for achieving audience engagement.

Read our full Press Release here and watch the award winning short!



With the Best Shorts win, this groundbreaking overture has taken on a life of its own and become a short film in its own right!


Broken Promises

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Alyssha Maynard performs her original composition Broken Promises which beautifully captures the spirit of Amiri & Aroha.


With the final cut of Rere’s Children at last in the can, I have been working on a music video to promote the trilogy. Alyssha Maynard has written a poignant, evocative song which eloquently captures the lifeblood of our story.

I love cutting music videos, which are truly an art form in their own right. The Broken Promises video could be subtitled The Trilogy in Two Minutes, juxtaposing scenes from Amiri & Aroha with Alyssha’s stunning performance.

Watch out for the Broken Promises video which will be premiering on this site in the very near future.

Royal Mail Celelbrates Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia Royal Mail Stamp

In a series of postage stamps celebrating great British films, the Royal Mail in the UK has recognised Lawrence of Arabia, the first film that I ever saw and the one that started me on my film making journey.

How well I remember my first visit to the cinema and being entranced by this extraordinary film. I recently watched the 50th Anniversary restoration and was captivated anew.

I have to be honest and say that there have been some moments recently, when post production on Rere’s Children has proved so difficult, that I have cursed the day I stepped into that cinema and saw Lawrence. But as I now experience the joy of completing the Amiri & Aroha trilogy and sharing it with the world, I know that I owe Lawrence of Arabia - and David Lean - a great deal more than words can ever express.

Amiri & Aroha takes on the World!

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All smiles at the end of a very long journey for Amiri & Aroha!


Amiri & Aroha is taking on the world!

I have lived and breathed this story for the past few years and it is immensely satisfying to see my dreams come to fruition as the films continue to attract enthusiastic attention at film festivals throughout the world.

Watch out for an exciting press release on our latest success on the intentional film festival circuit!

Piecing the Jigsaw together

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Much of my life in the past couple of months has been spent in a darkened room, colour grading Rere’s Children. This key scene of Miriama’s first meeting with Koriata has been a particularly difficult scene to balance and getting it right has become an obsession!


Making a film is like doing a jigsaw. Both films and jigsaw puzzles are made up of a large number of pieces which must come together to make a satisfying entity. In the case of a film, those tiny pieces are shot out of order and often in isolation of each other. The challenge for the film maker is getting each shot, each little piece of the jigsaw, as close to perfection as possible. And just like a jigsaw, one piece that doesn’t fit can ruin the entire picture.

Editing a film always entails shuffling scenes around into a different order in search of that elusive prefect fit. Juggling story lines, juxtaposing images, this is where a film is made or broken.

For Rere’s Children, the jigsaw is at last compete. All the elements have come together to produce a compelling story, that elusive fit has been achieved!

This First Look video is a rough cut of the scene which has given me so much heartache in post production! A tense, edgy scene where Miriama and Koriaita first meet in a dockside cafe.

The Countdown is on!

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A dramatic explosion in Amiri’s Child changes everything. But another countdown is just beginning...


The countdown is now on for the Charity World Premiere of the entire Amiri & Aroha trilogy. And this is just the start of our journey. As Amiri & Aroha continues to take the intentional film festival circuit by storm, negotiations continue for a mini series, a feature film and an ongoing series. Keep watching this blog!

We are looking for sponsors for our charity premiere. We want to make this gala event as special as possible. The proceeds will go to developing family medicine networks in regions of extreme need in the poorest parts of the world. If you are in a position to support us, we would love to hear from you. If you know someone who might be interested, please spread the word. Associate yourself with our success story!

Carl de Malmanche, our new Executive Producer



Welcome to Carl de Malmanche, our new Executive Producer.

It’s great that all of our supporters have got so involved in the production, and Carl and his friend Morino Ravenberg have played Interpol officers in the dramatic arrest of Amiri in Rere's Children.

Without giving away any spoilers, we've put together this short clip to give you a feeling for the scene!

Welcome to the crew, Carl.

Rere's Children is in final post production

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With Rere's Children in the final stages of post production, the Amiri & Aroha trilogy is almost complete. There is a certain amount of agony and ecstasy in any artistic endeavour and the last couple of months have proved something of an emotional roller coaster ride, working round the clock to finish the film.

Perhaps the most exciting - and nerve wracking - experience has been test screenings with preview audiences. Recent work has concentrated on fine tuning as a result of immensely valuable feedback from our preview audiences.

Honing the editing is immensely satisfying, with each successive enhancement, the film becomes more powerful and ready for exhibition!

With such intensive post production work, there just haven't been enough hours in the day to keep up to date with this production blog. But with an end now very clearly in sight, in the run up to the World Premiere of the trilogy, we will be catching up with our posts and bringing you the latest news of the final stages of production.

It's a wrap - finally!

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The cameras have been rolling for the last time on the Amiri & Aroha trilogy, with the final pick ups for Rere’s Children at last in the can.

There were some scenes we were unable to film during the November shoot and I have been casting round for actors for some of the small but significant small parts.

For the most significant of these roles, the detective who interviews gang leader Tautaru, I had to look no further than my colleague Andrew Wilson.

Andrew proved a natural in front of the camera. It's always difficult doing green screen work out of context but Andrew had no problem getting to grips with the laconic detective who unwittingly draws the truth out of Tautaru.

The shoot was in the best tradition of Indie film making, Andrew and edited the green screen footage into the sequence as soon as we completed the shoot. Thank you for being past of the film, Andrew.

This gritty sequence, near the conclusion of Rere’s Children, is one of my personal favourites from the trilogy.

2014: The Year of the Premiere

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A very Happy New Year to all our followers from the cast and crew of Amiri & Aroha.

2014 promises to be a very exciting year for us! This is the year we will finally complete the trilogy and bring this amazing story to the world!