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Now the Dunedin director has turned childhood imaginings into her first short film - a black comedy filmed in and around the Central Otago town.
Tate-Manning and the film's producer, Maddy Maxwell, of Oamaru, headed a crew of about 15 who filmed The Blue Lake at St Bathans last weekend. The Otago crew ranged from screen industry professionals to trainees.
The film, which was funded by the Otago Community Trust as part of the Short Film Otago initiative, was about "two You-Tubers" who went searching for monsters in the South Island, Maxwell said.
It stars New Zealand comedian Chris Parker and actor Olivia Parker, as well as "a few local extras".
The slimy co-star - called a "kraken" - was made out of kelp and cable ties and was being filmed by underwater camera operators in the depths of the Blue Lake yesterday.
Tate-Manning, who also wrote the script for The Blue Lake, said she had worked on the project for about a year and a-half, but thought "for a long time" St Bathans would be an amazing place to film a movie, based on her childhood imaginings.
"I grew up coming to St Bathans as a kid and when I used to swim in the lake with my best friend Tessa we always imagined that there was a monster in the lake, because it was so deep and such a strange place."
The Blue Lake is Tate-Manning's first foray into screen directing.
A graduate of the Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School and with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Tate-Manning recently directed My Best Dead Friend, a stage production that toured festivals in Nelson, Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington, last year.
The Blue Lake will be ready for screening in November.