The Freezer is a little story with a big heart. Set in 1978, in high summer, The Freezer follows the journey of 12-year old Will and his uncle Ron, who are on a mission to repossess a freezer that Will.s Dad hasn.t received any payments for. Will.s Dad runs the second hand shop in the predominantly Pakeha-run town of Kaikohe in Northland. Will and Ron.s journey takes them across the glittering Hokianga harbour to the unique landscape and people of rural Panguru, who are 100% Maori. When they get to the farm, Will and Ron find repossessing the freezer from their friends a little harder than they expected. The Freezer is based on a true story.
Director's Statement - Paolo Rotondo
"I fell in love with this story over the dinner table with my co-writer Neil Campbel.
The first thing which attracted me to The Freezer story, was the fact that it was a bloody good yarn. Neil Campbel talked of his family and history in Kaikohe, in particular the legend of a Kuia that had been kept in the freezer to preserve her while the Tangi was being organized. I went away and wove different elements of Neil’s family and history with this story into a screenplay. When interest was expressed in the story, Neil and I put our heads down and worked through loads of drafts with the assistance of a script advisor, Poata Eruera.
I was particularly interested in the complexity of the relationship between Maori and Pakeha in these small rural communities particularly in the North. On a more personal level the story of a child discovering death for the first time, the end of innocence was an expression of my own experience as an adult.
The making of The Freezer was an incredibly collaborative experience, there are loads of artists expressing their craft towards one goal, the final product is marked by the personalities of all those people.
Between the producer, cinematographer and director a style emerged for the making of the The Freezer , partly ‘art’, partly the expediency of making a low budget film. For me as a first time director I wanted to make something simple and story driven. We made a film set in the 1970’s in the same way it could have been made in the 70’s. As an actor I was surprised how much I learnt about acting by being on the other side.
After all the times I’ve watched The Freezer I’m still in love with the story. "