12 Jun 2019
Making movies on a dime is not a new concept for Mason Cade Packer. Since he was 13, Packer has been making micro-budget films and documentaries out of his own pocket, with a heap of creativity and a serious dollop of kiwi ingenuity.
20-year-old Packer and his partner Micah Winiata, both Ara’s New Zealand Broadcasting School graduates, have just accomplished their latest funding goal to raise $10,000 for their latest passion project, a feature film called Hades. The pair aim to start producing the film in August under the umbrella of their production-duo Free Chicken.
“Hades is by far and away our biggest challenge. While $10,000 NZD seems like a lot of money, it’s actually considered to be an extremely low micro-budget for a feature film. However, it would be five times the amount we spent on our previous feature film together Faint of Heart,” Packer says.
The two-hour feature film is Packer’s biggest project to date. The emotional drama-thriller, set in Chicago, follows a family of four as they isolate themselves during the modern return of the deadly bubonic plague. The story centres on the chaos of the family unravelling as the father takes extreme precautions to protect his family, including locking up his infected son.
Drawn to his Chicago-based older brother Cody, who is also a filmmaker, Packer, along with Winiata, made the big move over to the United States and he hasn’t looked back.
“Micah and I are based in Chicago, not Hollywood. We both study at Columbia College Chicago and are absolutely loving the experience of extending the knowledge we obtained at Ara through further advanced study.”
“Ara really prepared Micah and I for professional relationships in the film industry. The tutors are experienced mentors who offer fantastic advice, and our biggest recommendation to current students is to heed that advice and apply it in real world situations,” Packer says.
Although he’s now trying to break into the big time, Packer admits he once started from humbler beginnings making his first short documentary Predator, about shark finning in New Zealand,while living as a teenager on the Kapiti Coast.
“I then went on to direct, shoot and edit various documentaries and short films throughout college, followed by music videos, mini-feature documentaries and more short films at the New Zealand Broadcasting School.”
“My favourite project so far was ‘Faint of Heart’, the first feature film that Micah and I co-directed… That film has recently been completed and discussions are now underway with Neon, Lightbox and Rialto for the film to be sold and distributed.”
Mason Cade Packer
Find out more on Free Chicken's facebook page.