Plan now to be there for a film festival like no other


Iain McGregor / Stuff

“What prevents us from making films [in Lyttelton]? Real movies, real movies, ”Joe Bennett asked his friend Jason.

OPINION: We made a movie. It is called Terminal. If you missed its premiere at Lyttelton Arts Factory last month, you missed the birth of a film school. Terminal is tragic, epic, Shakespearean in scope. It deals with life, death, good, God and tattoos. It lasts six minutes.

I have argued for years that we should be making films here. Last winter, I said the same to Jason, who runs a video studio on Oxford Street. “Jason,” I said, “what does Hollywood have that Lyttelton doesn’t? The money and the hype, maybe, but not the talent. We have directors, actors, cinematographers like you. What prevents us from making films? Real movies, real movies. No Bond nonsense. No cops or car chases. No Tolkien fairy tales with talking trees. Recognizable stuff. Stuff that is true.

“Write us a script then,” Jason said.

– No problem, I said swallow.

* We are so conceited, we think we can do it all our way
* A moral victory 57 years in the making
* Internet: too bad
* A moral to live and put on your wall, duck
* Disused highway near Nelson, the perfect location for an apocalyptic movie

When you have the whole world to write, the mind doesn’t settle on anything. The trick is to limit the field. As soon as I decided to put the story within 50 yards of Jason’s studio, I had the plot within minutes, the script at the end of the weekend.

“It’s up to you to do with it what you want,” I said, holding it out like a teenage mother giving her baby to the nuns, “I only ask that you treat him with love.”

Pete directed, Jason filmed it, Bruce, Hester and Camille performed, and four months later Terminal emerged.

The movie can do things that words can’t, like Bruce’s face close-up. It’s a face to launch a thousand ships, all sailing at maximum knots.

Pete only cut one line from my script. He might have cut a few more. The language of the film is visual. When it comes to words, less is more.

In the end Bruce dies. I just made him collapse in the tattoo artist’s chair but Pete and Jason had other ideas. As Bruce’s eyes turned glassy, ​​they turned to a brilliant white light, then a stream of momentary, searing images – of sex, destruction, decay and love – before emerging to rise. above the rooftops of Lyttelton alongside seagulls and appropriately flying music. It was done in an awesome way, but I wasn’t sure if I liked it, if it added or hurt.

I sent the film to Jim in Canada. When I taught him English, he was a 15-year-old kid with a spiritual side that I couldn’t get him to understand. Today, it is a 50 year old father of three children with a spiritual tendency that I gave up trying to make him lose his mind. I sent him the film so he could say nice things about the script. He has said beautiful things about the montage of death.

He had just undergone hypnosis. During the session he walked through such a bright white light and looked at his own flesh. It’s a routine out-of-body experience, Jim said.

Joe Bennett: “I sent him the movie so he could say nice things about the script.  He has said beautiful things about the montage of death.


Joe Bennett: “I sent him the movie so he could say nice things about the script. He has said beautiful things about the montage of death.

Under hypnosis, Jim had discovered a previous life as a 19th century Norwegian called Lars. Lars has lived all his life in a cabin with a green thatched roof, chopping wood, fetching water, caring for elderly parents. Her brother moved out, got married and had children. Lars stayed, resentful. His parents are dead. Lars stayed, still resentful. He chopped wood. He was carrying water. He died alone, upset and embittered. Jim had been Lars.

“At least,” I say, “it’s a movie plot.”

“It’s up to you,” Jim said.

I’m working on it. At the Lyttelton Film Festival 2023 Lars life can be a double invoice with Terminal. Book now. I’m serious. Save the fare for Cannes.


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