10 Feb 2019

Hang Time: NZ indie film set among the vines

From Standing Room Only, 1:33 pm on 10 February 2019

A group of beautiful young people with time on their hands gather at a Marlborough vineyard what could possibly go wrong?

It's the premise of New Zealand independent film Hang Time inspired by Ernest Hemingway's novel, Fiesta; the Sun Also Rises but featuring the new lost generation - millennials.

In this Casey Zilbert-directed comedy three 20-something friends get some much-needed hang time when a cancelled wedding sees them compelled to spend a long weekend together on a beautiful vineyard.

But it's not all fun, sun and drinking games; bubbling beneath the banter workaholic Harry is ignoring a badly broken heart, self-styled fitness guru Ants is hiding some big baby news, and reformed party girl Jess can't decide if she should accept a life changing job opportunity.

It’s about Kiwi friends shedding those layers that prevent us from connecting with each other, Zilbert tells Lynn Freeman.

“As is often the case with Kiwis, three friends show up, but they’re not ready to be themselves around each other yet, so it’s looking at all those layers we have to peel through before we can finally let all the human layers come through and be friends and actually have some connection with each other.

“It was a really interesting process putting the film together, because that’s what we really wanted to come through … how do we make a film that Kiwis laugh their asses off all the way through and leave and go, I need to call my best mate?”

Zilbert’s family is all in the wine business, she says, and the film was shot at the family vineyard in Kekerengu

“That’s my home where we shot it, my family travelled a lot, and so the farm which is now a vineyard is the only really consistent location I’ve really had in my life and it’s beautiful.”

Zilbert’s family transformed the property from a farm into a vineyard.

 It was an opportunity for me to write a kind of love letter to this place, Kekerengu, that is just so special to me that very few people know about.”

The location is a star of the film, Zilbert says, every direction she pointed the camera a new vista unfurled.        

“We were just so lucky with how Aotearoa played with us, there were moments when we would be shooting and a little fan tail would come in and sit on a branch and flutter away and you go … nobody move, we have to get that on camera.

“We kind of take it for granted! I hear my producing partner Steve Barr says Kiwis are so jaded by the fact we live in a postcard.”

The vineyard setting allowed her to tell quite a familiar tale of the Kiwi rural life in a different way, she says.

“But to do it in a way that had something fresh and something fun. This is what a New Zealand wine film feels like, it’s not a French wine film, it’s not got that culture to it.”

The world premiere of Hang Time is in Blenheim on Saturday 16 February at the ASB Theatre, Marlborough

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