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Your Big Break: 40% Pure New Zealand, 60% impure foreigners

More than 1,000 entries to Tourism New Zealand’s Your Big Break were whittled down to five finalists. Surprisingly to some, after the launch seemed to pitch itself heavily towards overseas filmmakers at its launch event, two Kiwis made the cut.

Four finalists were chosen by the judges, led by Barrie Osborne, one by popular vote at the competition website.

The local finalists are Tim McLachlan and Rajneel Singh.

Tim has worked as an actor and stunt performer on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, X-Men 3, King Kong, The Water Horse, 30 Days of Night and the upcoming The Warrior’s Way. As a writer and director, his credits include sell-out seasons of the play Wedding Speeches, the award-winning short films Henrietta and Cuz and the award-winning low-budget feature Hidden.

Rajneel made The Fanimatrix: Run Program in 2003, a fan-film set in the universe of The Matrix franchise. The 16 minute short film went on to be an internet phenomenon and was downloaded several million times, making it – unofficially – the most viewed New Zealand short film of all time. Matrix creators Larry and Andy Wachowski dubbed it as their favorite fan-film based on their franchise.

Rajneel also directed the short film Big Bad Wolves which won Best Director Award at Big Mountain Film Festival and Best Emerging Filmmaker at Magma. It also recently won Best Film at the Donetsk 2009 Independent Short Film Festival.

The overseas finalists are Argentinian Andrés Borghi and American Kristi Simkins. Japanese-Australian Aya Tanimura, whose brother Taisuke works at Weta, was the People’s Choice.

Borghi has made several award-winning shorts, including Otakus, and is a dab hand at VFX, having worked on lots of music videos and the videogame Blackheart.

Kristi Simkins is a screenwriter and aspiring director. Her entry is here.

Aya Tanimura works as a producer’s assistant in the US, most recently on Jud Apatow’s Funny People and Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Inception.

The finalists will be here making their shorts early February, and the winning entry will air on the American Independent Film Channel before the Film independent Spirit Awards live broadcast on March 5. All finalists’ films will also be available on the competition website.

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