Ruby Harris’ Short Film 'Pet Day' Is An Idyllic Look At Growing Up Horseback Riding In Small Town Aotearoa

By Dan Ahwa
Photo / Matt Hurley

As part of the Someday Film Challenge for 2021, rising film-maker Ruby Harris' beautiful short film Pet Day is dreamy respite for tired eyes.

One of the Someday Stories' series of six short takes on sustainability by emerging young film-makers from Aotearoa New Zealand, Pet Day tells the story of kids and horses, the freedom of independence, and the uninhibited feeling of growing up in a small town in Aotearoa.

The film also explores themes of friendship, parenthood, male vulnerability, and growing up riding horses in a rural town, a way of life that is a special part of growing up here  in this instance, two young horseriders living in Hokianga in Te Tai Tokerau.

Photo / Nikolao Cockerell
Photo / Nikolao Cockerell

“I grew up in a tiny seaside town where I would ride my horse in the park with my friends after school,” explains Ruby.

Filmed in April this year, Pet Day also features a local cast, who Ruby tapped to work with her script.

“I went home to begin writing a story that we could share, with the hope it shows off the beautiful area they live in and their riding skills, and tell the underlying story I needed to share inspired by my own experience of how our parents’ experiences affect us as kids.”

Photo / Edith Amituanai
Photo / Edith Amituanai

The film's pre-production was also captured and documented via stills with photographers Edith Amituanai (DA) Matt Hurley (lighting) and Nikolao Cockerell (second AC).

"When I visited we would hang out, meet at the field, take some photos and go on walks. Eventually, I applied for funding when we had a script, they chose their names and their horses' names," Ruby says about her lead characters.

Photo / Ruby Harris
Photo / Ruby Harris

"We started with Britney and Chloe, then to our final names of Daisy and Mia. We talked through what film-making looks like as they hadn’t acted before and I hadn’t worked with horses or a big crew before. We were all pretty scared in very different ways."

"Between the story, the cast, the area and the support of friends and whānau I think we are telling a pretty special story."

Watch Pet Day here.

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