Festival slot for cop’s thriller

Festival slot for cop’s thriller

Beyond the Blue

Senior Constable Stef Harris was refuelling his patrol car at 4.20am when he had a flash of inspiration about his passion outside of Police.

Stef, a writer and movie director in his spare time, had stumbled upon his next location for a film shoot: a thriller noir involving money, drugs and a sawn-off shotgun.

For 30 hours spread over a week, Stef, an experienced crew and a cast including accomplished New Zealand actors, Stef’s Police colleagues and others, made Blue Moon at the BP in Motueka.

“The film explores how far a conscientious man will go to protect his family from a dangerous world,” says Stef.

It has been selected for the New Zealand International Film Festival, launched in Christchurch today (Monday 9 July).

“A lot of people were immersed in this project, where aspiring film makers rubbed shoulders with talent from Lord of the Rings and Weta Workshop,” says Stef, who is stationed in Motueka and has been in Police for 28 years.

The film features King Kong actors Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow, and Mark’s daughter Olivia. Other talent and extras are drawn from locals, including nine of Stef’s frontline colleagues and Geoffrey the cat.

Anyone thinking there might be a connection between his police work and the film’s crime theme would be off target, says Stef. “Crime in fiction, for me, is far more interesting than fact. The two don’t intersect.”

Incredibly, the 85-minute feature was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus but the final product has all the polished quality that you’d expect in a traditionally made film.

Stef managed to pull in some heavyweight crew members. “The sound was expertly done by Ben Dunker, who worked as a sound technician on the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. Ben and his wife live locally and run a tourist lodge so we’re lucky to have him onboard.”

The writer-director’s love of Blue Moon is evident, but there is equal enthusiasm for a local film industry.

“The film is the dividend of a regional development project together with Tasman District Council,” says Stef.

“The Police Credit Union part-funded the project by way of a scholarship. The initiative is intended to reignite film-making in the top of the South Island and involves the combined efforts of professional film makers and local youth.”

Stef has been making films since he was a teenager and found international success when his 2006 debut feature film The Waimate Conspiracy - based on his own novel - earned critical acclaim and a clutch of awards.

After the Film Festival screenings, Blue Moon will go on general cinema release nationwide.

Grab a ticket. You might even recognise some of your police-turned-actor colleagues.

  • Beyond the Blue is a project which aims to show the diversity of ways Police staff spend their time away from work.