Nathan Morris' self-funded movie At Dawn won a Director's Choice award at a US film festival and he hopes this will lead to bigger things.

A Kiwi film-maker has won the Director's Choice award at an Oscar and Bafta qualifying film festival in the United States.

Former Upper Hutt man Nathan Morris could now find himself in the running for the Oscars' best short and best documentary short categories, thanks to his recognition at the the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF).

Morris left New Zealand at 27 to pursue his career off the back of a coin toss.


"I literally flipped a coin and thought: f*** it, I'll go. So I went to London and ... stayed there for 16 years. Then I met a girl and moved to New York and then we split up and ta-da! Here I am," says Morris.

His film, At Dawn, was shot in London and funded entirely by himself. It follows an insomniac who drives around London all night delivering ice to bars and cafes, and talking to shadows on the wall.

It put him out of pocket by almost $28,000, but it also caught the attention of the RIIFF director.

"Hopefully it means some good publicity and a step up because I'm kind of newish here in New York, I've only been here about eight months, and one of my goals is to write and direct another short film which I've started doing," he says.

He's considering coming back to New Zealand to shoot the film; a story about a girl on a road trip to meet her birth mother, to tell some of Morris' own story as someone who was adopted himself.

"But I also want to give her a force field and make her a little bit science fiction-y, a little bit fantasy," he says.

Until then, he's just celebrating his win and "just getting on with it - paying rent and eating donuts".