Twisted New Zealand comedy This Town is coming to theatres next month and its lead actor, director, writer and producer David White is staying mum on whether it was inspired by the infamous David Bain murder case.
The movie is about Sean, a man charged and acquitted of murdering his family, making him the most infamous person in the small community of Thiston.
"The inspiration for the film came from being back in Hawke's Bay on the family farm and thinking about persecution in a small town," White tells Spy.
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"What it would be like for everyone to know you and something they think you have done and just having to get on with life, with the judgment that comes from everyone knowing all your secrets?"
White says Sean, at his heart, is a very sweet guy who, whether he did it or not (you'll have to see the movie,) has lost his family. So when audiences meet him he is either a very good actor or is heartbroken.
Five years later Sean's world blossoms when he meets Casey (played by Toi Whakaari graduate Alice May Connolly) on a dating app. Thanks to her absolute faith in his innocence, a cute love story forms.
This Town also stars Kiwi acting gems Robyn Malcolm and Rima Te Wiata in lead roles.
Malcolm plays Pam, an ex-cop turned petting zoo and adventure park owner, who's convinced that Sean is a guilty man walking free. Subsequently, she does everything she can to stop him returning to a normal life.
"There was always only one person whom I wanted to play Pam, and that was Robyn," says White. "She is just such a wonderful actress who can play anything, so I was thrilled when she signed on. Rima Te Wiata, I also think is one of the best actresses in the country. She brings such experience, laughter and sheer brilliance with a wanting to make everything the best. I was just blown away when she said she would do it."
Originally scheduled for release in April, 2020, lockdown quickly changed those plans. Now scheduled for release on August 6, it will be the first Kiwi film to be released in cinemas post-lockdown, which White hopes will be an incentive to get audiences heading to the big screen.
"Most of the international movies have pushed their release dates out significantly and won't be in cinemas for months yet," he says. "I'm really keen to encourage people to support their local cinemas and head back out to watch our movie on the big screen."
It was filmed on location in the central Hawke's Bay and White is also taking the premiere of the show back to his hometown of Waipukurau, where much of the local community were supportive of the project and volunteered to help in many ways. They'll be rolling out the red carpet – with farm animals and celebrity guests in tow, two days before its release.
"I just loved bringing a film of this size back to my home town where they really embraced us. Not only with the actors, but also the support of locations, props, everything. It was lovely to take my friends and colleagues back to where I grew up, and film something inspired by my home town. I think everyone will be able to relate to the characters, the story of love and of course the destruction in the demo derby."