The Little Things
When it's your fourteenth birthday and nobody seems to notice, it can be the little things that really matter the most.
D I R E C T O R ’ S N O T E S
“The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees” -J. Williard Marriott
“When I began writing the little things I knew from the outset that I wanted it to be a story that whispered and didn’t yell, I also knew that in order for it to work it had to be observational in style and it had to be honest. One of my primary objectives for the film w as to make the audience a pro-active part of the narrative process rather than have them passively watch events unfolding. To achieve this, I wanted to frame the narrative with a universal experience, one that wasn’t racially, culturally, nor gender specific, but that captured a time that everyone could relate to, irrespective of circumstance. So I chose that moment in a young person’s life when they’ve outgrown thinking about the world as a child but don’t quite fit the mind set of an adult yet. Overall my intention was to create a narrative that raised more questions than it answered, to create a space for the audience to think about what is happening to the characters on screen rather than being told how to feel about them and to that end, I feel as though I achieved my goal.
Internationally acclaimed New Zealand casting director Diana Rowan, helped me cast a fine balance of professional and non-professional actors for the movie. Fourteen-year-old high school student Norissa Taia made her debut film appearance playing George with acute stillness & subtlety to powerful affect. Similarly, six-year-old Romain Waerea lent a natural innocence and optimism to the movie with his moving performance as Tama. The cast along with a minimal crew travelled 250 kilometres north of Auckland to the strange and beautiful city of Whangarei whose curious fusion of urban, rural & suburban landscapes seemed to heighten George’s sense of dislocation.
As the product of solo parenting myself, I wrote this movie to highlight the unexpected ways in which generosity & love can sometimes come to us in the wake of difficult circumstances. It has been my experience that when you least expect it, from the last person you might imagine, sometimes-extraordinary things happen. For me what happens to George simply is what it is, sometimes life can be a bit hard but I believe there is beauty in the strength we get by negotiating the adversity that gets thrown in our paths and that’s why Tama’s character really shines. For me, he represents love; the sort of love George needs and wants, the sort of love she wishes her mother had shown her and the sort of love that she’s frightened to accept in the wake of the evening’s constant series of disappointments. To her credit she does accept it though, even if she knows all too well that it’s temporal. There is definitely strength in their unification and therein lies my own message of hope.
The little things was funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and was submitted as my thesis project for my Master of Fine Arts degree at New York University’s, Tisch School of the Arts. It is my second short film, the first I have shot in my home country of New Zealand. As an emerging director, I am grateful to the cast and crew for their generosity and support, in particular my producer Catherine Fitzgerald who has been attached to this project since its conception.”