David Nutt is loath to give away too much detail about his 31-minute comedy film, saying to do so would ruin the plot for viewers.
All he will say is that the story behind the making of the film is that the Taupō community came together and provided tremendous support to make an amusing film which stars Taupō actors and is shot in Taupō locations.
"The fact that people were so open to the idea of making a film was lovely, they all came on board."
David is the writer, producer, music composer, editor and director of The Lawn Mower, a Taupō-based comedy film with a sly plot twist. David held a premiere at Starlight Cinema Centre on December 8 to a select audience of about 100 and says he was relieved it garnered some laughs "which is key to a comedy".
"There's only one feedback that counts: Will they laugh? And they laughed in all the right places."
Having seen the film over and over again during November during the editing process, David didn't think he would stay for its first screening.
"I thought, 'I'll just give a speech at the beginning, and then I'll walk out because I'm sick to death of it', but when it came up on screen I stayed, and it was much better on the big screen ... it was great."
Comedy is well-known for being one of the hardest genres to write and act.
"If you're going to write a comedy, it has to be a bit ridiculous but it needs something to make it real enough that people are willing to accept it. It's very difficult to get that right."
Several of The Lawn Mower's actors were veterans of local dramatic society Centre Stage Taupō. David says being a comedy actor is trickier than it looks because the key is not to try to be funny.
"They [understood] that a comedy actor isn't somebody who tells jokes, it's somebody who acts."
The eight-actor film stars Phil Somerville, AJ Chapman and Ashleigh Yates and quite a few members of the local fauna.
Its plot revolves around a billionaire who moves into Taupō and sets up a mysterious factory, with curious locals trying to find out what's going on.
Filming was supposed to begin early last year but was disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown. It resumed in September and October and locations included the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve, DPA Accountants' office, the lakefront and Riverside Park.
The Lawn Mower is David's fourth film although the only other one he wrote and directed was called Kevin Does His Homework and was made "a long time ago".
"My sister in law Rosslyn Abernethy was a first-rate film director and Kevin Does His Homework was kind of on her coat-tails. It was funny, I thought, but a bit too clever."
David is a power engineer by trade who has also been a writer all his life. He retired to Taupō in 2019.
He says the most enjoyable thing about making the film was the teamwork involved.
"Everybody was so willing, so helpful. I put out an advert and actors came to an audition at St Paul's Union Church and they were all so good so I didn't need to look any further."
He had some help with the camera work from a friend from Auckland, and another who gave him a hand with the sound.
"I did a lot of it myself but I got a lot of advice. I learned a lot and if I did it again it could be better."
For people keen to see The Lawn Mower, David has organised two public screenings of the film at the Starlight Cinema - on Tuesday February 9 at 8pm and again at the same time on the following Tuesday, February 16 - thanks to the support of cinema owner Peter Smith. The cost is $5 per ticket.
"He [Peter] was great and, even without seeing it, he said he would help me."
He is also grateful for the support of the Taupō District Council, which gave David a grant which enabled him to pay the actors a small wage.
David's next project, a new story called The Hit, will be made later this year.