A romantic-comedy about a creepy stalker trying to meet girls by going through their rubbish has taken out the Make My Movie competition.
How to Meet Girls From a Distance, created by a Wellington team of budding film-makers, will now be filmed and turned into a movie, to premiere later this year.
That's thanks to Make My Movie, a new initiative from the New Zealand Herald, the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air, that sees novice film-makers get the chance to turn their film dreams into a reality.
With the tagline, "Get to know her, then meet her", How to Meet Girls was one of two finalists, beating out the sci-fi spoof This Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy from an Auckland team in today's winner's announcement.
The "peeping Tom rom-com" film follows Toby, a 30-something guy who stalks future partners, gathering as much information about them as he can so he can turn himself into the man of their dreams.
Toby falls in love with a woman who eats Chinese food every Thursday, pays her power bill on time and leaves her spare key under the back door mat. Now he just has to summon up the courage to meet her.
How to Meet Girls was written by 48 Hour Film Festival veterans Dean Hewison and Richard Falkner, along with Sam Dickson.
Hewison, an asset co-ordinator at Weta Digital, told nzherald.co.nz that his team was "buzzing" after the win.
"We're still buzzing (but) the reality of what we have to do hasn't really sunk in yet. But you can sense it's there, it's coming," he said.
Hewison said the film was a new idea that emerged when the team were going over old scripts.
"It's definitely a comedy, but it does get reasonably dark at points. There are definitely some serious moments in there. But there are laugh out loud moments - hopefully."
He admitted the time constraints - a premiere date is due to be set for later in the year - were daunting, but he had asked for time off to help deliver the film on time.
"They want it done quick, but it's an extension of the 48 Hour Festival in that sense. We've done that many times and managed to pull out some good looking stuff in a weekend - it's seeing if we can sustain that energy and that passion over a longer time.
"I don't think we'll have a problem with "that".
Organiser Ant Timpson said Make My Movie's judges had a tough time deciding on the winner.
"Both finalists are wildly different in subject matter but each was innovative within their own genre. In the end, the judging panel felt that the winning team's script was richer in terms of development and had an overall stronger voice," he said.
"We feel gutted for the runners-up and wish they'll continue with plans to make their film."
With more than 750 entries, Timpson said he was overwhelmed by the response to the competition. "So far the experience has been completely rewarding and just knowing that there's this creative wealth bubbling under the surface of New Zealand waiting to break out and be discovered is exciting to us at Make My Movie," he said. "Maybe we'll do it again next year, if we can convince the powers that be."