Press Release – Eastern Institute of Technology
Trained at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay, Wellington film maker Mathew Watkins has hit the big time in the USA with a win at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival.
Returning to New Zealand this week, Mathew is celebrating the success of his eight-minute movie Divide after it topped the festival’s horror/foreign film section. His entry was one of only seven selected in his class, which was open to film makers world-wide and part of October’s Independent Film Month in Atlanta.
Mathew wrote and directed his movie as the major project for his Diploma in Screen Production, which he completed at EIT’s ideaschool last year. The 21-year-old now works as an independent film maker in Wellington where he has recorded indie bands such as John the Baptist during Radio Active’s live studio sessions.
Divide premiered at ideaschool’s invitation-only Short Film Festival held in Napier last year. Given its recent success, Mathew’s friends and supporters are now expecting it will screen more widely.
EIT Screen Production programme coordinator Claire McCormick says it was a coup for a student-made film to be accepted for screening in an international film festival. Performing so well against against stiff competition, particularly from Spanish and Swedish film makers known to excel in the genre, was an outstanding achievement.
The film has two threads which eventually tie together – a father’s worst nightmare as he answers the phone to his sobbing daughter and a man going about about his business of cutting up a body in a bath.
Claire says the sense of horror is unforgettable.
Mathew travelled to the USA with the help of donations from his friends and family and an anonymous donor who chipped in $3000. He was accompanied by aspiring film director John Norris, a fellow member of Top Blokes – a film production company formed by a group of screen production students at EIT.
The pair moved around locations in Atlanta covering all the categories. Divide, they emailed, was screened a second time, also featuring in the Local Horror Short Movies session.
Mathew’s mother Julie Bartholomew says the trip to Atlanta was her son’s first overseas travel and very likely his first time in a plane. His win was “just such a blow-out”. Mathew has loved movies since he was a little boy and “just blossomed” studying at EIT.
As a youngster, he had a starring role in Gupta vs Gordon, a well-received cross-cultural comedy made by Jitendra Pal, an orthopaedic doctor living in Napier. He also visited film sets to see his father, Keith Watkins, working as a grip.
Also proud of Mathew is his younger sister, Sophie, who is studying for a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design at EIT’s ideaschool.