Only in Cinemas

In case you haven’t been following us elsewhere, we premiered the film last year at Arohanui Film Festival to a sold out audience!


Cast Toni Garson, Anton Tennet, Astra McLaren with producer Fiona Jackson and director Joe Hitchcock at Arohanui Film Festival 2015

The New Zealand Film Commission have since awarded us a Feature Film Completion Grant, which has allowed us to get a brand new 5.1 surround sound mix with Northwest Digital (Deathgasm, Evil Dead, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and DCPs for theatrical exhibition compiled by Images and Sound!


Penny Black Movie is now about to tour New Zealand, tickets are on sale now!

Feb 17 Hamilton @ The Lido (book at cinema 07 838 9010)
Feb 18 Auckland @ The Vic, Devonport (book here)
Feb 24-27 Wellington @Nga Taonga w/Q&A on 26th (book here)

Check out or RSVP on Facebook for more screening details!





Crowdfunding success!!

Well, much to our surprise, we reached our crowdfunding goal with 17 days to spare. Not only were our friends and family incredibly generous, but we received one totally surprising pledge that propelled us over the $2k mark. I was speechless for about 24 hours.

People have asked why we didn’t make our goal higher, when we could so obviously benefit from having a higher budget. We chose the modest goal of $2,000 for a few reasons.

  • Crowdfunding is new and relatively unheard of in New Zealand. Though people are beginning to use it successfully we are the first fictional feature film to hit our crowdfunding goal using a New Zealand based crowdfunding site. Most people who aren’t in a creative industry haven’t heard of crowdfunding at all.
  • Another reason is that our film is in pre-production. At this stage it’s hard for us to prove that it will be a success. We know we are asking pledgers to take a leap of faith in our ability to complete the film to a high standard. It’s been great to have so many people believe in us. Thanks 🙂
  • And lastly, Pledgeme uses an all or nothing system. If we tried for $10k and only got $4k, we’d get nothing.

With this $2k we have the funds we need to get us to post-production. Just. Of course there are still things we can’t afford that would go a long way towards making the film better.

In addition to the 3 awesome vans from Wicked Campers we would also like to rent a small RV so that we have a dedicated production office (and, more important to some, a toilet) on set wherever in the country we are. We calculate that this will cost around $650 for the vehicle and petrol down and up the country. So our next goal is to raise enough to also cover this cost. Only $505 to go!!

You can find our crowdfunding project here: Penny Black

Thanks once again to all our wonderful sponsors, for your pledges, and, just as importantly, for your support, which is priceless.

~ Fiona

Writing your Sponsorship letter

Sponsorship is one of my least favorite parts of film making. I was lucky that Donna from Moonlighting Marketing Services Ltd helped construct a letter to approach companies who might be interested in sponsoring Penny Black.

In retrospect Donna’s ideas were all very creative and logical, but marketing is not an intuitive process for me so i needed it explained in intricate detail. Here’s a brief summary of her advice:

  1. Think of a catchy subject heading that will encourage people to click open rather than delete. Me and Joe have the fortunate last names of Jackson and Hitchcock so we put them in the subject heading.
  2. Briefly talk about the project.
  3. Imbed photos of your key creatives (don’t attach). We procrastinated about this for quite some time, but people like to see who they are sponsoring so we did it.
  4. Be clear about what you need and why. We are requesting products and services rather than financial sponsorship, so we might ask for, ’20 cases of drink for the cast and crew while we’re on the road’.
  5. Tell them what you can do for them in return. We love to spread the good word about our sponsors, and we take photos and footage of us enjoying their products, and of course we will list them in the closing credits. You can offer product placement, ask them to be extras in your movie, distribute their product, or whatever you think might appeal to a particular company.
  6. And lastly, add a contact number in case they want to talk to an actual person for more information.

Then make a list of potential sponsors that suit your project. Look at their website to see who they already sponsor and if they might be interested in your project, then cross your fingers and start mailing.

We only approach companies we feel a particular affinity with (for example we’re crazy about Hell Pizza and Burgerfuel, our first two sponsors), so we are genuinely excited about promoting their product or service.

I find it really hard to ask for sponsorship. Companies are inundated with sponsorship requests every day, but when they say ‘yes’ it helps stretch our film budget and reminds us that people really are keen to support independent filmmakers.

~ Fiona

Crowdfunding with PledgeMe

Crowdfunding is something that really excites me about independent filmmaking. It involves interacting and connecting with your audience well before your film begins production, and is a great way to gauge interest in your film, practice selling your idea, and of course help raise funds for essential expenses. It’s a relatively new way to fund a film, starting with Indiegogo in 2008, and Kickstarter in 2009, and New Zealand’s first crowdfunding platform PledgeMe in 2011.

Crowdfunding invites fans, family and friends to help fund a project by pledging an amount in exchange for various ‘rewards’. Filmmakers explain what their film is about, who is making it, and how they plan to do it on a micro-budget. And almost all films made in New Zealand are made with budgets that would have Hollywood producers rolling in the plushly carpeted aisles of their private screening rooms.

Rewards range in value from a digital download or a postcard from the set, to a DVD of the finished movie, a role in the film, or even Executive Producer listing in the movie’s credits (which of course includes the thrill of seeing your name up on the big screen).

Crowdfunding is not an easy way to raise money. It’s hard to ask people to take a leap of faith for a movie they haven’t even seen. With no guarantee of turning a profit on a project filmmakers must cut their budget as tightly as possible, and find companies and individuals who are as excited about supporting film projects as you and I.

Keep an eye out for Penny Black’s listing on PledgeMe shortly. It’s been fun to think of interesting rewards to offer, we hope you’ll like them 🙂

– Fiona

ps. If you are a filmmaker have a look at 15 Steps for a successful Kickstarter Project for useful tips on how to approach crowdfunding.