Aidan Dickens

The Old Man Next Door

Choose a theme

Copy (Ctrl C) the code below

'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 health.

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 process.

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.

Our Target

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 Message

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 step.

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.

The Director

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.    

The Team

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 & Financial Control.

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.

Our Sponsors

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 it.