A trip to the supermarket turned into an invitation to play lead roles in newly-released short film Cosmo Silvergreen.
Taupō couple Lenore Bridgman-Toms and husband Gary Toms star in the short film, which premiered at Suncourt Hotel last Tuesday, along with Hugh De Lautour who plays Cosmo.
Lenore and Gary had previously caught the eye of director Jennifer Russell who spotted the couple at a weekend market and knew they had a dog called Baldrick.
"I wrote the play and saw these two at the supermarket and they just had the look about them to match the characters in Cosmo," said Jennifer.
Set in a dystopian future, Cosmo Silvergreen is about a singing storyteller who wanders from village to village but strange things are beginning to happen. Jennifer says for people viewing the film it could be set anywhere.
"It's filmed in Taupō, at places like the rest area on the way to Wairakei, the Redwood Forest, a market garden on Broadlands Rd, Lilliput Farm and at the pub Mulligan's."
A younger Cosmo is played by Tristan Baynham and Jennifer says the film shows the same set of events two or three times through other people's viewpoints.
"It's funny, but Tristan actually looks a bit like Hugh," said Jennifer.
Cosmo Silvergreen was filmed, edited and produced by Mike O'Connor, 67, and written, directed and produced by Jennifer Russell, over 65, going by her professional name of Jennifer Meadows.
"I also put together the costumes, did the casting, found the shooting locations, arranged for the transport, food and comforts of everyone while we were filming. It was exhausting," said Jennifer.
Filming started before lockdown, and Jennifer says literally months went by between filming scenes. Intended to be the first in a series, Jennifer and Mike are going to vet audience reaction and may release Cosmo Silvergreen to social media after Tuesday's premiere.
"We don't actually have a social media account for Slapping Trout Productions. My son is on Instagram overseas and he posts chef things. I think it would go well on Instagram, and we really want feedback from a following," said Jennifer.
She hopes that someone will come on board to help them set up a social media account for them to showcase previous short films and documentaries, Cosmo Silvergreen and also Slapping Trout Productions.
Jennifer says creating the short film was a massive amount of work and she wants to thank all the people who were involved, especially Mike and the actors who volunteered.
Mike says the short film was made on the biggest shoestring ever, with everything being donated or volunteered. A 40-year veteran of the New Zealand film industry and now retired in Taupō, Mike has previously worked at the National Film Unit and TVNZ, and was earthquaked out of his freelancing career in Christchurch.
Jennifer spent most of her working career as a professional caregiver and looking after her other two children who have special needs and are not now living at home. She says husband John Russell was very helpful with this short film, and at times played the stand-in for Hugh's role of Cosmo.
Cosmo Silvergreen and Cultic have a dystopian theme, however Jennifer also makes documentaries and her work has been shown at festivals around New Zealand.
Her film career began this millennia and Jennifer says altogether she has made eight movies including feature film Cultic, The Calling, Adoco of a cea, and short comedy Dirty Rotten Junkie Stuff. Last year Jennifer and Mike made documentary Medieval Merriment about a medieval weekend.
Slapping Trout Productions is looking for 'techy people', crew, actors, and monetary contributions, get in touch with Jennifer Meadows at email@example.com and Mike O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org
A public viewing of Cosmo Silvergreen will be available at Lake Taupō Hospice at a yet-to-be announced date. Door sales will be donated to Lake Taupō Hospice.