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Interview with Tim van Dammen

Tell us about Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song
The film is a trash-opera adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It is the original text but sung or rapped. Its set in a run down trailer park and Romeo and Juliet are played by a couple of NZ's top models. I don't think anyone will have seen anything quite like it before, at least that's what I was going for

What was the filming of it like?
It was great! I shot with the same crew I've been making music videos with for the last few years, we're all very close so it went really well. It was like a giant film camp at the beach, we were living much like the characters in the film - even a couple of romances blossomed.

Where did you film it and was it a smooth shoot?
We shot up at Waipu Cove campground, the people up there were very accomodating so the shoot went really well. The locals invited us around to their houses for dinner, they took us shellfish gathering in the weekends and they helped us find nearby locations to film certain scenes. It was a very smooth shoot, the only small hiccup was the lead actress breaking her toe but she didn't let it stop her.

What's it like to be here with the film at the New Zealand International Film Festival?
It's amazing to be able to premiere the film here in NZ and for it to screen at the Civic and at the Embassy, it's like a dream. I used to volunteer here as an usher so now to have my film here is sort of surreal. I'd like to thank Bill Gosden and the team at the NZIFF for having me, it's a real honour.

What's the best reaction you've had to a film of yours from an audience member?
I come from and Art School background so I'm used to my work being critiqued and critised, I find it difficult to respond to complements but I do remember after the cast and crew screening a little old lady who had given some money to the project came up afterwards and thanked me, she told me that she was very proud of the film. That was both humbling and a relief. I feel a lot of pressure to do justice to the generosity of people who helped make the film possible. Other than that the best reaction I can hope for from the film is laughter at the start and tears at the end, so far its affected a lot test audiences in this manner but I guess we'll see what happens at the premiere.

Conversely, what's been the worst?

What's next for you?
My team and I have a couple of projects on the go, one is another opera which I'm working on with some of NZ's top musicians and the other is a story set in 1833 NZ about headhunters but as usual I'm always looking for interesting local scripts.