Vicar's horror and heritage films praised

Could well-known Christchurch vicar John McLister be the next Peter Jackson or Taika Waititi?

John McLister supports residents and sailors as the vicar at Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the...
John McLister supports residents and sailors as the vicar at Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the chaplain at the seafarers’ centre. Photo: Supplied
“No, I don’t think so,” the 66-year-old vicar laughed. “I’m more interested in capturing the social history of people. That’s quite a niche audience.”

But the vicar’s film career got off to a good start after he was nominated for two awards last week.

McLister was a Christchurch finalist in the Vista Foundation 48 Hours short film competition and a nominee for best tertiary film at the Doc Edge Festival 2024 awards night.

Both awards were presented at separate ceremonies on Thursday night. McLister didn't win either but was happy just to be nominated.

“For me, as a first-time person having a crack at it, it’s nice to see two films as finalists. It’s quite rewarding to get that level of approval,” he said.

McLister’s short film for the 48 Hour competition, The Reserve, is about a mother and son who get separated while walking in the woods.

Following competition rules, the 5-minute film was produced over two days in May and has horror and psychological themes.

It was produced by McLister, with Jae Hulbert directing and Clint Thambi on cinematography.

McLister is deeply involved in the Lyttelton community as the vicar at Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the chaplain at the seafarers’ centre.

“Everyone’s been pretty supportive (of my film-making). I think when people see you’re really enjoying something, they’ll tell you to go for it.”

A year ago, McLister decided to pursue a lifelong curiosity and enrolled in Yoobee’s film school.

“I thought to myself, if I don’t have a crack at this now, I’ll regret it.”

At high school McLister enjoyed film. One of the country’s first video cameras sparked his interest in making stories.

“Life carries you in different directions, but it never went away,” he said.

He submitted his student documentary Heritage Heroes to Doc Edge.

For the film, McLister took a tour of Ferrymead Heritage Park and interviewed a tram driver, and print shop volunteers about their work.

“I was just blown away by their dedication. They’re kind of unsung heroes.”

He enjoyed his time at Yoobee and felt welcomed by his much younger classmates.

“It was funny at times because I was old enough to be the grandfather of some of these students.

"It was good for me, because it put me in touch with people who I wouldn’t naturally interact with at my age.”

Despite the age gap, McLister said he managed to find common ground with students due to their joint creative pursuits.

He linked up with Hulbert and Thambi through the course.

The trio want to start a production company and film short movies and documentaries around Lyttelton Harbour.

“It’s a beautiful area for making stories, and where Jae and I both grew up, so we want to show it off.”

Documentary filmmaking is his favourite genre.

"A lot of documentaries are big stories about people who do big things.

"They’re great stories that have to be told, but what about the average person?

"Someone who works a nine to five but then spends 10 hours a week volunteering,” he said.

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied
McLister’s wife Yaeko and children Joe and Caeli have been supportive of his filmmaking too.

“My wife has known I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. So she’s been very patient and allowed me to go off and do these things.”

Creating The Reserve was a challenge for the crew as they had just 48 hours to write, film and edit the movie.

Teams only received their genre at the start of the event, so the crew scouted out multiple locations in advance.

“We went to a lot of place to scope out where we could possibly film.

"We could have got a musical, we could have a got a mystery, we had to be flexible.”

The Urumau Reserve in Lyttelton was perfect for a moody horror short.

“We wanted to highlight the area a little because it has a sort of uniqueness and ambience.”

McLister’s team received the ‘real-time’ genre which meant the movie couldn’t have any time skips. Edits were still allowed.

As producer McLister took on a managing role for every aspect of production.

“It was a good team effort. We all did our part to make it work while filming it in just one day.”

John McLister (right) produced The Reserve, with director Jae Hulbert (left) and cinematographer...
John McLister (right) produced The Reserve, with director Jae Hulbert (left) and cinematographer Clint Thambi. Photo: Supplied
Thambi was also a finalist for the 48 Hour cinematography award.

McLister will start work later this year on a documentary about Lyttelton Times journalist Samuel Crombie Brown and his reporting during the 1881 invasion of Parihaka.

Mother-son duo team up in short horror film

A Diamond Harbour mother and son star in The Reserve.

Annabelle and Josh Wear needed to learn their parts and put on a convincing performance in just one day of filming.

Annabelle and Josh Wear in The Reserve. Photo: Supplied
Annabelle and Josh Wear in The Reserve. Photo: Supplied
Fourteen-year-old Josh is a Cashmere High School student who dreams of becoming a professional actor.

“He’s wanted to be an actor forever. Josh wandered up to me one day and said ‘alright Mum, when are you going to get me an agent’,” said Annabelle.

With limited opportunities available in the South Island, Josh starting acting in Yoobee student films.

The pair were only shown the script for The Reserve on shoot day.

“As an actor, it was exciting because you basically have to embody a character in one day,” Annabelle said.

“It was a good 20-minute walk up the hill with everybody lugging make-up, gear and fabric. It’s just an amazing pressure cooker.”

Josh’s passion for acting sparked his mother’s interest in appearing on screen.

“I originally went along to the first audition for Josh and I read with him. The director was like ‘oh I want you in the film as well’.

"I think I’m a secret actor because I love it. I absolutely love it.”

Happy with supporting roles, Annabelle wants to help her son shine by acting alongside him.

“I’m cool with being the sidekick. It’s about helping Josh to get these opportunities.”

Josh will appear in the Court Theatre’s junior production of The Little Mermaid next month as Chef Louis.