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NewFilmmakersLA Spotlight: Director/Producer Hamish Mortland of Suni Man

In celebration of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at the AT&T Center in downtown L.A. this month, we're conducting a series of Q&A Features and this week we're bringing you our featured Filmmaker Spotlight:

Name/Position: Hamish Mortland – Writer/Director/Producer

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it. 

Suni Man was a labour of love. Initially I was inspired to write this after meeting an old school friend who retold a similar story that he had encountered back at school. That conversation happened about 5 years ago so I guess it brewed since then up until I began writing it a couple of years ago. Finding funding for this project was a great challenge and turned out to be the hardest process of bringing the story to the screen.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

Foremost our amazing cast and crew, I know everyone says that in this position but the team I was incredibly fortunate to assemble were amazing and worked well beyond their means to help get this project going. Secondly our major funders, who were very supportive and took a great leap in funding a short film – ASB Community Trust, Friedlander Foundation and SkyCity Community Trust. We were also lucky to have support from some of NZ’s wealthiest philanthropists who opened up there wallets in an incredibly act of support for grass-root film-making.

How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at the AT&T Center?

It’s a great honour that Suni Man was selected for the NewFilmmakers LA Festival, it’s a fantastic achievement and something I am very proud of.

What inspires you?

Family, friends and colleagues – storytelling occurs every day and I’m often inspired by real events that we ourselves discuss. I love adapting what I hear into something that starts to take dramatic shape and form. I also get quite inspired from real events that I read in newspapers and are often perplexed at the scale of some of these – I’m often thinking, I could never write that, it’s mad. But someone actually lived it.

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

I’ve never been a huge follower of specific filmmakers, I’m often jumping between eclectic and independent French films that I love and major Hollywood productions that turn my previously thought connotations and beliefs on its head. I would have to say that Stanley Kubrick would be the chap I’d love to have a cup of tea with if he was still around. His ability to tackle various genres successfully is a huge inspiration.

What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

Be patient but yet don’t take your foot off the throttle. Have more than one thing on the go. Always have more than one string to your bow.

If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

I’m inspired by a lot of Australian cinema at the moment, I think they’re in amazing shape and too the New Zealand industry. Some fantastic work has emerged from this end of the world in the last decade or so. I’d like to collaborate with international filmmakers that are interested in making projects here in New Zealand.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

Funding. It’s tough. There’s always multiple rejections until someone comes through.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Get a real job. Mum & Dad.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?

I feel strange writing this as I’m still quite young in this industry and feeling my feet. But don’t be afraid to collaborate, films only get better with other points of view. Not all obviously but being open to someone critiquing your work will make you or your story better. Be nice, you often spend all hours of the day together so if you’re a prick, people will walk and so they should.

Where can we expect to see you next?

Knocking on the door of the next potential funder. If that’s you, open up.

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks so much for screening my short film.

For more information, visit:

About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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