The Map Reader Interview with Harold Brodie

The Map Reader

Cast: Rebecca Gibney, Jordan Selwyn, Mikaila Hutchison and Bonnie Soper
Director: Harold Brodie
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date:25th November 2009
In a small New Zealand town, 16 year-old Michael (Jordan Selwyn) leads a lonely, introverted existence with his single mother Amelia (Rebecca Gibney- Channel 7's Packed to the Rafters) whose guilt and alcoholism threatens to drive her cherished son away. Uncomfortable with the adolescent exploits of his 'friends', he finds escape through a passionate love of maps.

Unexpected friendships with classmate Alison (Maikaila Hutchinson), whose sweetness and innocence belie a dark secret, and Mary (Bonnie Soper), a blind young woman on the cusp of adulthood, rouse Michael from his isolation and send him on a journey of self-discovery. As his life begins to spiral out of control, Michael is forced into some difficult choices about the course of his life.

Director Harold Brodie has spun a haunting and tender coming-of-age story which features standout performances by newcomers, Jordan Selwyn and Mikaila Hutchinson and acclaimed Australian actress Rebecca Gibney.

Facts about The Map Reader

  • Rebecca Gibeny's first leading role in a feature film
  • Critically acclaimed NZ Release earlier this year
  • Nominated for three QANTAS Film Awards: Best Feature Film Budget under $1million, Best Supporting Actress (Bonnie Soper) and Best Editing in a Feature Film.

    "A lovely local film... that'll soon draw you into its very realistic world. It's no surprise it has caused quite a stir and picked up the odd award on International Film Festival circuit" - New Zealand Woman's Weekly.

    The Map Reader
    RRP: $29.95

    Buy Now from Fishpond


    Screened at 19 international film festivals & won 4 awards
    Nominated for thee Qantas Film Awards:
    Best Feature Film - Budget under $1million
    **Winner** Best Supporting Actress (Bonnie Soper)
    Best Editing in a Feature Film

    Interview with Harold Brodie

    What did you enjoy the most in regards to directing The Map Reader?

    Harold Brodie: Just getting the opportunity to make the film was a dream come true, really. I savoured every moment, and it all passed much too fast. I suppose the best part for me was working with the cast. They were all so brave and willing to try anything. It's humbling to see that level of commitment on a project which is your own labour of love.


    How much freedom did you give Rebecca Gibney to take on her character Amelia's role?

    Harold Brodie: When you work with someone like Rebecca you know she's bringing an immense amount of talent and know-how so I really just wanted to listen to how she felt the role was going to work for her. I told her the same thing I told the whole cast, that I thought we should try some different approaches on set, and that I felt strong as an editor, that they should have faith in me that I could sculpt their performances and make them work. So there was an openness and willingness to experiment. Rebecca embraced this. I gave all the actors the freedom to try the things they wanted. I think that's important.


    How did you work with group of younger actress and actors?

    Harold Brodie: I try to remain consistent with all the actors, and working with teen actors is really no different than working with adults. Everyone is different, of course, but as a director you need to remain consistent, I think, so there's a sense of security, and the actors feel comfortable. I don't like to "trick" actors into a performance. Working with child actors is a little different, I suppose (though I still won't "trick" them, unless as a last resort!). With Braydon, who was 7 at the time, I would get a bit more on his level, literally at times. I think the process of filmmaking is essentially like child's play, so all of this is actually quite natural to do on set.


    Was it reassuring winning and being nominated for a variety of film awards?

    Harold Brodie: Very much so. I guess you can try to be cool and say it doesn't matter, but the truth is, I think we need that sort of approval. I thought I had made a good, honest film, but we don't live in vacuums.


    Will audiences be able to relate to the film?

    Harold Brodie: I certainly hope so! I am really interested in telling stories of outsiders, of people I think are under-represented in most films. So my work may appeal more to those types. But I also think that everyone feels like an outsider at times.


    In what location did the filming take place?

    Harold Brodie: The film was shot in locations all within an hour of Auckland. We spent a week in Helensville, an hour to the northwest of Auckland.


    How did directing The Map Reader differ to your first film, Orphans and Angels?

    Harold Brodie: My first film was far more of a learning experience. I was much more confident with both the camera and the actors with Map.


    What was a typical day like on set of The Map Reader?

    Harold Brodie: We had a very small crew, so there were only maybe 20 or so people on set at any time. So everyone ended up knowing each other and hanging out quite a bit. The first week we all stayed at a holiday camp in Helensville so that was bonding time. It all went very smoothly and everyone became a bit of a family. I was told later that this was quite rare! It never really felt stressed or rushed. Except for me personally of course, but I hid it as well as I could! We shot for 24 days, 10 hours per day. We shot very quickly because we had to, but the crew led by Renaud Maire was fantastic, it just flowed so well.


    What are you working on next?

    Harold Brodie: I like to try very different things. I'm actually a big horror movie fan, so that's what's next for me. But psychological horror, of course, character-based, not gory. It's actually pretty funny, too. And a step up in budget and scope.


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