'The old man next door' is a short film by me, Aidan Otene
Dickens. It is a film about an elderly Maori war veteran who
has been emotionally and psychically crippled by a war event, and
is changed forever when he meets a young girl on the verge of a
nervous breakdown. The film is about redemption, with a
strong focus on character and narrative, and with a theme of mental
In 2017 I wrote the script as a response
to a series of traumatic and life changing mental health
experiences that happened to someone very close to me. The film
explores these issues, and through the eyes of the main character
shows us what it is like to experience them, and how debilitating
anxiety and agrophobia can be.
In 2018 the script was selected for the finals
of the 'Fresh Shorts' 10k funding round with the NZ Film
Commission. From there I went through an intense 'Fresh
Shorts' development weekend workshop and was assigned a mentor, NZ
filmmaker Michael Bennett, to guide me through the resubmission
I didn't get the grant, but with all the work me and my team had
done so far, I knew we had to make this film, as it's such an
amazing story. And that's why we need your help.
The Old Man Next Door is a narrative short film. The protagonist
(Matiu) is an elderly Maori war veteran who suffers from PTSD and
agoraphobia (originating from a traumatic event he experienced
whilst serving in the NZ Army during the Vietnam War). He has
recently become a widower and now finds he can no longer leave the
house without suffering severe anxiety attacks. Consequently, he is
virtually a prisoner in his own home.
His world is turned upside down when a young girl from next door
(Yvonne) befriends him. He has unwittingly witnessed the demise of
her relationship with her boyfriend, which has largely played out
on the pathway directly outside his window. Throughout this period,
he has noticed a corresponding deterioration in her mental health.
Her situation reaches 'crisis point' when she stops taking her
anxiety and depression medications, in the misguided belief that
this will somehow help her win back the affections of her
boyfriend. Ultimately, her condition worsens to the point where she
spirals into psychosis. When she wanders out onto a busy road in
the dark of night, Matiu must face his own daemons, if he is to
save his newfound friend from impending harm.
Making a film costs a lot of money, and we've budgeted for
$7,500 to pay for the costs of making the film.
We will use your donations to pay for the cast and crew, art
department, wardrobe and set dressing supplies, location fees,
equipment and lighting hire, and petrol and food. The film will be
a lot better quality with a higher budget, so that we can pay our
hard working crew, feed them, and hire the best equipment to make
the film look awesome.
As a special thankyou from all of us we will make sure that your
name or organisation is given a place in the films credits.
The main aim of the film is to spread awareness of mental health
issues and reach as wide an audience as possible. There is, of
course, already a great deal of information available on the topic
of mental health and wellbeing, much of which is
documentary/factual in content. Generally speaking, those sources
are accessed by individuals (and/or their support network) who have
already acknowledged there is a problem and are taking the first
steps towards seeking help.
We believe that, by taking a fictional/dramatic approach, our
message has the potential to reach a wider audience and might just
strike a chord with someone who has not yet taken that first
Clearly, the film does not offer any answers or solutions, but
in raising the subject of mental health wellbeing in a 'person next
door' context, we hope to be a catalyst in encouraging the viewer
to think about their own circumstances and those of others close
by. The underlying message offered in the film is clear: a socially
inclusive encounter, however brief, can often provide that vital
life-line at a time of need.
I am a New Zealand Pakeha and Maori film director. I have
written and directed numerous short films, music videos and
promotional and corperate videos. My films have been featured in
film festivals in New Zealand and around the world, and I've even
received a couple of awards.
In 2017 I completed my Masters in Screen Arts at Auckland
University. For my Masters I made 'Land of the Taniwha', a short
film about a boy who calls a Taniwha on his stepdad. The film was
featured at the Wairoa Maori film festival, Wellington Public
Cinema, and The Moving Pictures film festival. I moved back
to Wellington in early 2017, and currently I work as a Film and
Digital Design tutor at Yoobee School of Design.
Aidan Otene Dickens - Writer/Director
(Enough said about me already)
Helen Anderson - Executive Producer
Current Chair and Co-Founder of Film for Change NZ, Helen is a
seasoned Film Producer and Editor who brings a wealth of talent,
experience and contacts to the production process.
Andy Ferguson - Executive Producer
In addition to his creative insight, with 25 years of experience
in Project and Production Management, Andy brings a steady hand to
the often-challenging areas of Budgeting, Scheduling &
Kirk Pflaum - Director of Photography
With over 15 years of experience behind the camera in both film
and broadcast television, Kirk brings a creative presence which can
be 'felt' when his camera is rolling.
Sam Wadham - Line Producer
Formerly a volunteer at Film for Change, Sam attended the NZFC
workshop alongside Aidan and brings his own considerable talents
and experience, as well as the newfound knowledge attained through
the NZFC mentoring program.
Elenore Brenton - Rule Line Producer
Currently studying Screen Production at Youbee School of Design,
Elenore brings to the team a wealth of talent, along with a ton of
enthusiasm and commitment.
We are generously sponsored by the following organisations:
- RSA Wellington
- Yoobee School of Design
- Sindico Industries
Please, give what you can. Your donations will help us
create something that will touch the hearts of everyone who watches