Rod Petrie, James Stevenson and Mathew (Maty) Eichorn are the faces behind WTHIS Productions – a trio who have just completed their first short film, Karma, on location in the Hastings area. But watch this space … there are some even bigger projects in the pipeline!
Hi guys. Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you became interested in film making.
Rod: My interest in filmmaking is directing, writing and editing. I’ve been a huge film fan since an early age and when I grew older, I learned to appreciate the work that goes into films and decided it’s something I really wanted to be a part of.
I’m interested in the horror, sci-fi, thriller, action, adventure and comedy genres. My favourite directors are Peter Jackson, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, Sam Raimi, George Romero, Wes Craven and numerous others.
James: I’m into tech stuff. I work in IT, and I’ve always been interested in computers and gaming. Maty handed me a camera one day and asked me to film him trying a self-heating can of soup for a food review – and I think I’ve been holding a camera ever since!
Since then, I’ve bought a Canon 550D camera and tripod, and I’m adding to my collection of equipment all the time.
Maty: I’m a musician, and I work as a private music tutor, teach at the University of Newcastle campus here and volunteer as a musician, musical director and sound tech at The Players Theatre.
I fell in love with film after hearing John Williams’ work on Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It has since grown into an avid interest in sound FXs and Foley work, alongside composing scores.
Explain who and what WTHIS Productions is? Why was it formed?
Maty: WTHIS Productions came about a little bit by accident. We started goofing around with James behind a basic handy cam and Rod and myself in front of it, sampling unusual food and trying to be funny.
After a while, someone, although I’m not sure who, realised that between the 3 of us there was enough skill and experience to take film making a little more seriously. Plans started to flow after that realisation.
WTHIS Production’s first short film – Karma – was shot on location in the Hastings area. What is the film about?
Rod: It’s about four people in a house who do not know each other and are in a situation where ‘something’ is coming for them. One of the four will make a decision that will come back to bite them.
How did the idea for Karma first develop?
Rod: It’s based on a nightmare I had years ago. I believed it would be a shocking and suspenseful horror film, so I adapted the nightmare into a screenplay that I intended to direct as well.
What were some of the funny things that happened on set during the shoot?
Maty: One of the actors had a bit of a late night the night before and kept falling asleep all over the place. He particularly seemed to enjoy sleeping on the floor, with his script over his face. I do wonder how many times he was stepped on or kicked!
What technical difficulties occurred on set that you’ve learned from and will put into practice for your next film?
James: We ran the camera battery flat and we didn’t have a spare (one had been ordered and didn’t arrive prior to the shoot), so we were forced to take a break while the battery recharged. We won’t have to go through this again on our next shoot!
With hindsight, it was probably a bit ambitious to tackle filming the entire movie in just one day as well – but we got there in the end!
Overall, how do you feel about your first major film shoot?
Rod: I’m very happy with the performances from the actors. There are some great character moments captured in the footage, and there are some wonderful shots. It was definitely a positive experience and lots of fun!
It is one of many projects we have in various stages of development, so there is more to come.
What do you plan to do with Karma after post production is finished?
James: We want to make this short film part of our ever expanding portfolio, as well as release it online (YouTube and WTHIS Production’ website) and possibly enter it in film festivals.
But prior to this, we’re looking at holding a premiere of the film in the local area on the big screen: we’re still working on the arrangements for this.
Who was involved with Karma that you’d like to say a huge thank you to?
James: Our actors: Tim Ronin, Barbara Sherrin, Nathan Totton and Baili Atkins; they were incredible. Also, Cherie Kershaw for her makeup skills, our many extras, and the Sawyer family, for providing us with a location.
What projects are in the pipeline for WTHIS Productions over the next few months?
Maty: We’re preparing a proposal to shoot a Spaghetti Western at Timbertown in Wauchope very soon. Plans are also in motion for another return to the horror genre, with a double feature to be filmed over the next few months.
We hope to have a sci-fi short film and romantic drama filmed before the end of the year, before we launch into our very first feature length film in 2013.
We’re always on the lookout for contributors and volunteers to help us out in many capacities.
Where can people contact WTHIS Productions if they’re interested in film/editing projects?
Go to our website: www.wthisproductions.com – or find us on Facebook.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 77 of Port Macquarie Focus