Mickey Treadwell

Hot Chocolate

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THE FILM: Hot Chocolate is a short drama by David Hay shooting in May 2019.

NEW GOAL! We are now aiming for a total of $6500. When we created this campaign we seriously underestimated the generosity of our local community. We put aside a month for crowd-funding and we were fully funded in less than three weeks. The additional funding will go towards hiring better technical equipment, increasing the set-design budget, and spending more time in post-production, giving a greater level of polish to the final product. 

Hot Chocolate tells the story of Maddie (22), a young woman who arrives home, only to discover the body of her flatmate. Nothing in her life has prepared her for this and to make matters worse, her sister Nina (8) is waiting in the car outside. With no time to think, let alone prepare, Maddie has to come up with the best course of action to do right by her late friend, and protect the innocence of her little sister.


David Hay is an award winning film and television director. Following the success of Cold Fish, 2017, Hot Chocolate will be his second short film set in Dunedin. For this project he is collaborating with long-time television producer Tess Whelan and the multi-talented Amie Richardson as executive producer.

Contributing their creative talents to the project are production designer Andy King, casting director Cindy Diver, editor Ben Lamar, and DOP Dominic Fryer.

For full bios, see the profiles in the updates section below.


Thanks to the small cast, contained setting and the crew's connections with Dunedin's generous film community, we've come up with a modest budget that will realise our vision.

We've determined we need to raise $4500 to cover production costs. This money will go towards gear and vehicle hire, cast and crew expenses, props, set dressing and feeding everyone.

Beyond producing a world-class short film, our goal is to foster the film-making community here in Dunedin. We want to engage with our best creatives, actors, workers, amateurs and professionals to nurture future collaboration and get more projects off the ground in our city.


We've already received generous support from NHNZ, Petridish, Aart on St Andrew, Jared Hunter Mason Photography, and BrandAid, but we still need your help to make this film a reality.

By donating, you're joining the Hot Chocolate team. Every backer will be listed in the credits and, when we premiere at Cannes, you can hit up David and Tess for a free hot chocolate.

From all of us on the Hot Chocolate team, Thank you so much for pitching in.


  • Meet the team: Social media guy me, Mickey!


    During the pre-production of Hot Chocolate, David approached me and explained that he didn’t know what social media was, but that he had been told it was important. Given that I’m one of the two people he knows with a Twitter account, I volunteered to help him out.

    I graduated Otago University with a BA in Philosophy and English and, after a stint as a concrete cutter, found my way into film and TV as a post-production coordinator. I also served on the board of Short Film Otago until 2018, when I left the country on an extended honeymoon.

    Somewhere in there I ran several web series and social media campaigns- most recently for the amazing University of Otago Chemistry Outreach team, documenting their 2018 trip to Taiwan and Malaysia.

    When I’m not writing facebook updates, I’m studying Computer Science at Otago, walking my rad dog, playing sax in my weird band, or doing up my poor neglected house.

    I’m extremely chuffed to be working with David, Tess, and the ridiculously talented team they have put together, and I cannot wait to show off the awesome film we’ve been working on.

    Meet the team: Social media guy me, Mickey!
  • Meet The Cast: Chihiro Smithies as Nina


    We are extremely privileged to introduce our next cast member: playing Nina, younger sister to Meg Sydenham's Maddie, is rising star Chihiro Smithies.

    Chihiro and her family heard about Hot Chocolate through InterACT drama tutor and casting agent Cindy Diver. We were blown away with her audition and had a feeling we might have found our Nina.

    Chihiro is a student at both Macandrew Bay school and InterACT drama classes. Outside of acting, Nina is a passionate reader, particularly when it comes to fantasy.

    We at Hot Chocolate are very proud to be giving her her on-screen debut as Nina.

    Meet The Cast: Chihiro Smithies as Nina
  • Meet the cast: Meg Sydenham as Maddie Ross


    With our casting process well and truly complete, and the days ticking down until our first shoot, it gives me great pleasure to announce our lead actor: Meg Sydenham

    Meg is a Toi Whakaari graduate currently based in Auckland. She got her first taste of drama at age 7 as part of a 500 strong cast for Annie and has been hooked ever since.
    Throughout high-school Meg participated mostly in obscure musicals, but during her time at Toi Whakaari she realised screen acting was her calling. Her on-screen debut was the lead role in Hush, a 2018 short that screened at the Berlin Film Festival which she attended alongside director Armagan Ballantyne (The Strength of Water, Being Eve).

    Meg also has a passion for botany, and when she’s not in the studio you can find her propagating her succulent collection or spending time with Mei - her cavoodle.

    You can watch the trailer for Hush, starring Meg, here: https://toiwhakaari.ac.nz/portfolio/hush-trailer/

    Meet the cast: Meg Sydenham as Maddie Ross
  • Meet the team: Hair, makeup, and wardrobe: Rachelle Gourley


    Joining the Hot Chocolate team on hair and makeup is the fabulous Rachelle Gourley. Despite doing well in previous competitions and having her work appear in numerous magazines she thought it was more important to say why she loves her job and what makes it so important to her.

    Rachelle runs confidence courses through Aart model management - not only for models but for anyone who wants the confidence of a model strutting down the catwalk. Her goal is to help young teens and adults find confidence in themselves, and to own what makes them different, because everyone is unique and that’s what makes the world beautiful.

    Hair and makeup isn’t what makes someone beautiful- Rachelle wants to help people see their natural beauty, or to use makeup as a way to tell a story about themselves. She is incredibly passionate about her job and surrounds herself with other people in creative fields so she can spend her weekends doing what she loves, hair and makeup

    This will be Rachelle’s 4th film, and she is excited to work on Hot Chocolate because she believes it has an important message to share with the world.

    Meet the team: Hair, makeup, and wardrobe: Rachelle Gourley
  • Meet the team: Driver Ross Johnston


    Ross’s driving experience spans many decades. He claims to have mastered his basic skills in his brother’s Morris Series E. He only got it stuck once and there were extenuating circumstances. With the motor cut he was trying to noiselessly deliver a Broad Bay based girlfriend home in the wee hours. He then graduated to Minis, VWs, Citroens, Renaults, Peugeots, Land Rovers, Toyota Vans, a Mercedes Benz 508 Panel Van and a dreadful petrol guzzling Cortina station wagon. He claims to be ‘balancing the emission books’ by now driving a Prius and a Leaf. Given his experience with diesel, petrol, electric and sometimes unpowered vehicles and the fact that he can still remember how to execute a ‘double declutch’, he has offered his services as a driver.

    Meet the team: Driver Ross Johnston
  • UPDATE: 90%!


    We just hit NINETY PERCENT funded! What a great way to cap off the week.

    We are so close to having our production costs covered, all thanks to you generous people.

    From David, Tess, and Mickey - thank you so much, and have an awesome weekend 🧡

    UPDATE: 90%!
  • Meet the team: Executive Producer Amie Richardson


    If you're a Dunedinite working in film, media, or journalism, chances are you've shaken hands with Amie. Dunedin's consummate mover, shaker, and communications expert, Amie has been the connective tissue in Dunedin's screen scene for the best part of a decade.

    For more than 15 years, Amie Richardson has worked in film, television and the media. An award-winning journalist in print, Amie moved into TV, where she has held a variety of roles in Auckland and Wellington in development, research, script writing and associate producing across documentaries, docu-drama, tele features, short films and factual series. Since living in Dunedin, she has been a board member of Short Film Otago where she has been involved in producing, script editing and executive producing various funded short films in the region, as well as producing corporate work for commercial clients. Amie also works as a PR consultant.

    Amie’s collaborated on David's previous short Cold Fish, and we are very pleased to announce her as a collaborator on Hot Chocolate.

    Meet the team: Executive Producer Amie Richardson
  • Meet the team: First Assistant Director Jeremy Anderson


    Jeremy Anderson has spent twenty years herding actors. He got his start on Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard and in his words “it has been downhill ever since”. He is a recent graduate of Otago’s Centre for Science Communication endorsed in documentary filmmaking. You may have seen the premiere of his final project, the affectionately titled Toxic Zombie Death Machines… A Love Story.
    Jeremy is thrilled to be part of the Hot Chocolate team, and to help out David with his next short.

    Meet the team: First Assistant Director Jeremy Anderson
  • UPDATE: 75%!


    UPDATE: We just hit 75% funded! We are beyond stoked with the amount of generosity and encouragement sent our way this first week. Every little bit really does count.

    From David, Tess, Mickey, and on behalf of everyone on the team: THANK YOU!🧡

    UPDATE: 75%!
  • Meet the Team: Art Director Andy King


    Self-professed creative design addict Andy King got his start as an apprentice sign-writer. He went on to study Design at Otago University, but the brush has never been far from his hand.
    Not a man to be boxed in- neither by material, nor by medium- Andy has created ship interiors, graveyards, whales, English pubs, and most things in between. You might recognise his work from such indie gems as Wolverine, Perfect Creatures, King Kong, Walking with Dinosaurs, and Top of The Lake. He has also crafted long standing tableaus for the Otago Museum, Cadbury World, and more recently Toitu. We can't wait to see how Andy brings the Hot Chocolate set to life.

    You can check out some of his fantastic work online at https://www.andykingscenicartist.com/

    Meet the Team: Art Director Andy King
  • Meet the team: DOP Dominic Fryer


    We are extremely excited the latest member of our team, a man whose work you’ll almost certainly be familiar with: director of photography Dominic Fryer

    Dominic has been working as a DOP for the past twelve years, working on projects with NZ’s most renowned film-makers – including Annie Goldson, Justin Pemberton, Leanne Pooley and David Farrier.
    In 2016, Dominic shot Sundance hit Tickled with David Farrier. In 2017 he followed up with feature doc Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web which premiered at SXSW. Most recently he has completely filming on Netflix series Dark Tourist.
    Dominic brings the technicality of a seasoned stills photographer and the story-telling of a true documentarian. We are thrilled to have him behind the lens on Hot Chocolate.

    Meet the team: DOP Dominic Fryer
  • Meet the team: Casting Director Cindy Diver


    The hunt is on for Hot Chocolate's leading ladies, and the leading the search is Ōtepoti's own casting powerhouse: Cindy Diver.

    Cindy is a Dunedin based casting director, professional actor, director, writer, and the owner-manager of Theatreworks Ltd. Over the past twenty eight years she has worked full time in the theatre, television and film industry in a wide variety of roles including; production manager, casting director, playwright, stage manager, producer, actor, director, technician, and events manager. For ten years she sat as the performer’s representative on the Fortune Theatre Trust Board, was a founding member of Kilimogo Productions and Stage South, and is currently on the board of Wow! Productions Trust. Cindy has also been teaching and managing InterACT Drama Classes since in 1996, is passionate about teaching performance skills and loves working with independent filmmakers.

    Cindy worked with Dave on his previous short: Cold Fish and we're thrilled to have her help again for Hot Chocolate.

    Meet the team: Casting Director Cindy Diver
  • Meet the team: Editor Ben Lamar


    A fellow NHNZ and Cold Fish alumnus, Ben "Golden Boy" Lamar has been in high demand since he cut his first sizzle.

    After earning his MSc in Natural History Filmmaking at Otago University, Ben started his career in television as an editor at Natural History New Zealand for the children’s television network ZooMoo. Since then, Ben has edited NHNZ’s most prestigious titles including Big Pacific for PBS and Fish My City for National Geographic. Outside of television Ben has edited on a number of film projects including the David Hay's previous award winning short: Cold Fish. When he isn’t in the edit suite, Ben can be found playing video games or on the basketball court.

    If you're familiar with Ben's work, you'll know that the Hot Chocolate edit is in very, very safe hands.

    Meet the team: Editor Ben Lamar
  • Meet the team: Production Manager Janine Baker


    Production management is not a skill for the faint of heart. If you've never had to make sure 8 people and $30,000 worth of camera gear arrive safely in Singapore for a 5 week shoot on a shoestring budget, count yourself lucky. There's a reason they call her Janinja.

    Janine has been working on and off in television since 2007. Hailing from a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, her credits include such quaint titles as: Big Brother, Million Pound Drop, Strictly Come Dancing, Soccer Aid 2016, and Saturday Kitchen Live. Since jumping the ditch to NZ, she has been lending her boundless energy to NHNZ on Jackie Chan's Green Heroes, Fish My City with Mike Iaconelli, and Megastructures: Quarry Hotel.
    When she needs to relax and restore some energy, you’ll find Janine hiking, doing CrossFit, playing netball, or working as a Kaitiaki volunteer for DOC. We’re glad she’s on our side.

    Meet the team: Production Manager Janine Baker
  • Meet the team: Producer Tess Whelan


    The beauty of film production is that it is a collaborative process, bringing together multitudes of talented people to realise the creation of a singular piece of art. Of course with multitudes of people comes multitudes of emails, phone calls, deadlines, budgets, promises, threats, and compromises. Defending Hot Chocolate from these forces of chaos is the indomitable Tess Whelan.

    Over twenty years Tess has refined her skills in the industry as a researcher, location scout, casting assistant, location manager, production manager, writer, director and producer on everything from kids’ TV to true crime. She’s recently been honing her multi-tasking and budgetary skills by juggling three children and a huge home renovation.
    She’s excited to bring her extensive experience and local knowledge to this production, and is thrilled to be onboard with such a fantastic team.

    Meet the team: Producer Tess Whelan
  • Meet the team: Writer and director David Hay


    David is the mastermind behind Hot Chocolate: the latest in a long series of international film and television projects.

    David’s film career began with award winning short documentary An Introduction to Henry: The Navy Years (2001). He produced two more shorts in 2003 before getting ‘distracted’ by a career in factual television. He has directed, written, produced or edited 100s of hours of shows for international and local networks (including National Geographic, PBS, Channel 4, and NHK) that have won multiple awards including a BAFTA and a QANTAS. He returned to filmmaking in 2014 with Chloe and made Cold Fish in 2017. It has played in over 20 international festivals, picking up a jury mention in Sienna, and the Best Short Film prize in Ravenna. His first feature script won a NZWG SEED grant and his second won the inaugural Dunedin Shanghai Screenwriters Exchange.

    David has set roots in Dunedin, and if he isn't behind a camera or a keyboard, he's probably working on his home - a converted turn of the century chapel.

    Meet the team: Writer and director David Hay