Hard work, determination and very little sleep has paid off for makers of the first movie to win the Make My Movie competition.
How To Meet Girls From A Distance, the peeping tom rom-com that beat over 700 other film ideas to win a $100,000 budget, will be released in cinemas on November 1.
Even organisers admit the movie has exceeded any expectations they had for the competition.
"I guess we thought at best someone would walk away with a great calling-card," says creator Ant Timpson.
"But to be accepted in the film festival and now to get a general release is testament to how hard they all worked to squeeze every cent out of the budget and get it on the screen."
The New Zealand Film Commission's Chief Executive Graeme Mason agrees.
"The team behind How To Meet Girls From A Distance really embraced the Make My Movie concept and used it to make a film with great audience connection. I want to congratulate them on yet another fantastic achievement."
Madman Entertainment, who have acquired the rights to the movie for New Zealand and Australia, say it's a remarkable achievement for a film made within the competition's constraints.
"I'm so pleased to be able to bring this film to New Zealand audiences after its hugely successful film festival screenings," says Madman Entertainment NZ theatrical sales manager Michael Eldred. "All of the Madman team are excited to be working on it."
Make My Movie, a partnership between the New Zealand Film Commission, NZOnAir and nzherald.co.nz, put the call out for movie ideas in the form of a poster, tagline and short synopsis last year.
By Christmas 750 teams were whittled down to four semi-finalists, with the two final teams having to submit full scripts in January. The winning team, Traces Of Nut, shot the film over 17 days and the whole process from launch right through to completion has been documented in an online web series.
"We started this project hoping to survive making a film, and also hoping it wouldn't be crap," says director and co-writer Dean Hewison.
"So for us to be in nine cities in the festival and getting a national release is so much more than we ever hoped for. This time last year it wasn't even made up!"
This Madman deal sees the movie make its budget back. Producer Ruth Korver believes the deal is an encouraging sign for New Zealand movie makers.
"So many people have believed in this project and made it happen and having a distributor on board who also has faith in the film is really exciting and makes all the hard work worth it."