While making Bellbird, Hamish Bennett felt he'd be happy as long as the Northland-based film made his family and home community proud.
But its impact has spread wider than that.
The film, set over four seasons on a humble Maungakaramea dairy farm, is charming audiences already with its story of loss, love and hope in rural New Zealand.
Bennett, who wrote and directed the film, said he did not anticipate his first feature film would be as popular as it is.
"For me it was always that as long as it was a film that I was proud of, and my family and the community I grew up with was proud of, I felt like I'd be happy and content. There's been a lot of love for it so having all of that is a bonus," he said.
• Movie review: New rural dramedy Bellbird, a 'joy to watch'
• New Zealand International Film Festival Review: Bellbird
• Bellbird first ever NZ film to offer Te Reo Māori subtitles to cinemas
• Premium - Bellbird - Tom Augustine wraps up the weekend in film
Bellbird tells the story of Ross, a dairy farmer struggling to cope with the sudden death of his beloved wife Ruth, and the gradual bond he builds with his only son Bruce and the local community.
Bennett - who is of Ngāti Whakaue, Patuharakeke and Kati Waewae descent - said the film was inspired by his upbringing in Tauraroa and the characters of Ross and Beth were inspired by his childhood neighbours.
"I suppose I've always had a real affinity and affection for the people I grew up around and so in terms of having an idea for it - I think it's always been there."
Bennett, an Auckland teacher who considers Tauraroa home, attended Tauraroa Area School growing up, where his parents were teachers.
When Bennett was thinking about a location for Bellbird he thought of his school friends Carla and Mark Deeming and their family farm.
"It had everything I see in a Northland farm - it had landscape, it's a small family run farm and the world I'm trying to depict in this film is being lived by the Deemings."
But Carla, who is the farm manager, was initially reluctant.
"I could see all sorts of issues but Mum [Shelley Deeming] played the Bruce and Tui card - Hamish's mum and dad - they are the most wonderful people alive and they would do anything to help anybody and I really had no argument against that."
Bellbird was filmed in January, March and August of last year.
Carla said some filming was organised around the normal routine of the cattle - including the milking. But sometimes the Deemings had to schedule the routine around filming.
Despite the challenges, the Deemings said they enjoyed meeting new people and creating friendships.
"They were all new people, apart from Hamish, and every single one of them was wonderful," Carla said.
The location was not the only Northland aspect to the film, two of the main actors are also from the region.
Rachel House, who plays Connie, grew up in Kamo, and Kahukura Retimana, who plays Marley, would make his way to set from his home in Whangārei.
Bennett said Kahukura wasn't actually auditioning for the role at first. His cousin was and Kahukura cheekily told the casting director he was the better actor.
"Kahu asked his koro if he could go in and do an audition and he just improvised his way through an entire audition.
"With kids there's a natural charisma you can't teach, and Kahu had that."
Bellbird is in cinemas now.