Writer’s three reasons to celebrate

Moving into the Robert Lord cottage in Titan St, North Dunedin, yesterday is Port Chalmers writer...
Moving into the Robert Lord cottage in Titan St, North Dunedin, yesterday is Port Chalmers writer and director Pennie Hunt. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
For the next five weeks, Pennie Hunt will sit where New Zealand’s first professional playwright once sat, working on her own debut feature screenplay.

The Port Chalmers writer and director packed her bags and moved into the Robert Lord Writers’ Cottage in North Dunedin at the weekend.

The tiny brick home in Titan St gives Ms Hunt, who has two young children, a space of her own to write undisturbed.

"It means the world to me," she said.

The cottage, through applications to the Robert Lord Cottage Trust, has hosted writers in its residence since 2003.

Receiving residence is just one of three successes that Ms Hunt is celebrating.

She was recently awarded a New Zealand Film Commission writing mentorship with Dunedin film director and scriptwriter Robert Sarkies, and was accepted into the Script to Screen's FilmUp 2021 programme.

"It feels like it is so many things coalescing at once ... I am so grateful" she said.

Ms Hunt said she was particularly fond of the front room in the Robert Lord cottage, where a "beautiful" desk and portrait of Mr Lord were placed.

"You can feel his spirit in that place, and of all the writers who have sat at that desk and created work."

She was also "thrilled" to be accepted for the mentorship programmes, which offered support during what could be a "very long and lonely journey", she said.

"Just having people who have been through the process before and can guide me through it, it is an incredible confidence boost."

She will use the opportunities to continue working on her debut feature screenplay, which she began in 2019, she said.

The coming-of-age story is about an intense female friendship between two women — a young woman, who has low vision, and her best friend are on a path to achieving gold at the Paralympics for tandem cycling.

She hoped to have a screenplay ready to pitch to the film commission for funding by the end of the year.

Ms Hunt said her recent achievements were the result of many years of "slogging away".

Her journey in the film-making industry began in 2012, when a short film she wrote in Germany received funding from a Bavaria film commission.

She was struggling to find a film director, when her husband suggested that she give it a go.

"That was about nine years ago," Ms Hunt said.

"Once you have made short film, and once you have got the bug, it is like an obsession."



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