Like all the best-laid movie plans, the Make My Movie project revolves around a briefcase full of money - a hundred thousand bucks of it.
We tracked down the shadowy figures behind all this cash and found filmhead Ant Timpson and nzherald.co.nz Entertainment Editor Hugh Sundae only too happy to give it all away.
"It's called Make My Movie," explains Ant Timpson. "The premise is a $100,000 cash grant that's open to anyone to apply for it. The whole idea is they're going to make a feature film with that money, and the public at large is going to have a say in the feature film idea that gets chosen."
Timpson and Sundae are hoping everyone from kids to industry pros to enter Make My Movie, and with the process starting with folks submitting just a title, synopsis and poster for the film they'd like to make, the first step is pretty damn easy.
A dozen film ideas will end up being finalists, and the public will be able to vote on the one they'd like to see.
Along the way Sundae will be documenting proceedings online in warts and all fashion for nzherald.co.nz.
"We want to start immediately going out to teams who look interesting," he says, "meeting them and finding out what their idea is. When it whittles down to the dozen finalists, we want to get as much online around those teams as possible so that it becomes more than just the poster and synopsis - we'll be filming the dramas or disasters that happen along the way."
As Sundae jokingly puts it, he's spent 15 years loathing reality TV and now he's going to make it. That will include going inside meetings between the aspiring filmmakers, the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air, key organisations involved with Make My Movie.
"They don't want to be inaccessible to people," says Timpson, "and this is the start of new lines of communication between Joe Shmoe and these bodies that control a lot of the money in New Zealand film."
Money - that brings us back to that briefcase full of cash. No, the winner won't be handed a hundred grand so they can take off to South America and blow it in an Escobar-ian frenzy.
Initially it's there as a temptation to solicit ideas out into the open, and that's what Timpson's hoping to see.
"I think it's great to have the ability to put your shit out in front of everyone and get feedback on ideas. People may hoard ideas and be scared of letting it out in public because everyone will steal your great idea, but that's kind of a myth - the reality is that the idea you're coming up with for a hundred thousand dollar film is probably not going to be stolen by a studio.
"A great idea with a twist is not really something you want to give away in a synopsis but you have to try and hint at it so you want to see how it plays out."
How it all plays out with Make My Movie is a mystery even for these two guys. Not knowing exactly what to expect from the ideas or the people entering, they're keeping their plans loose so they can respond to whatever they have to deal with.
As Sundae puts it: "All sorts of companies in advertising, marketing, broadcasting and media have attempted to recreate something that's been a shambles. So we just have to accept this is a shambles to a certain extent and just go with it or else we won't create something as magical as it can be."
Then there's the more poetic Timpson take: "We are going to be flexible through the whole thing, but people do like structure and they do like the credibility of major companies being involved. Images & Sound and Panasonic are on board to provide support for the eventual winners so I think there's enough confidence that it's not just Ant and Hugh jerking off."
It'll be the whole country jerking off then?
"Hopefully. A mass circle jerk."
Only by marrying or blackmailing a Hollywood executive has it ever been easier to turn your crazy idea into a motion picture. All that needs to happen for starters is for your film's title, synopsis, and poster to be submitted to makemymovie.co.nz.
Entries are open now with over 100 ideas already uploaded.
As submissions come in they will be displayed online as poster images that the public can click on for more information. Along with the online video coverage on nzherald.co.nz, this will inform the voting process that commences once the multitude of entries has been condensed down to 12 finalists.
Eventually one of these ideas will end up becoming a feature film, so the winning team will require an outline and script at some point. At the start it's all about the idea and having fun though, but - let's face it - there's never going to be a better motivation to complete a script than a one-in-12 chance it'll end up on the big screen.
As Ant Timpson puts it, "the reality is we're backing the idea to be made, not 'here's some bucks to have a go'."
Presented by the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air and nzherald.co.nz.
- VolumeBy Steve Newall