Rena Owen | Stylish Comedy – Heist Movie Mixes Hilarity and Reality
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Stylish Comedy – Heist Movie Mixes Hilarity and Reality

12 Aug 2014, Posted by in ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS

Stylish Comedy – Heist Movie Mixes Hilarity and Reality
NZfilm, October 1, 1998


 

Athina Tsoulis’s first feature, a stylish comedy titled I’ll Make You Happy, will have its first trade screenings at the Mifed market in Milan.

The central character is Siggy, a cheerful teenage prostitute, played by Jodie Rimmer in her first feature-film role.

The supporting cast includes an ensemble cast of wellknown New Zealand film actors – including Jennifer Ward-Lealand from Desperate Remedies and Rena Owen from Once Were Warriors, who play prostitutes.

Michael Hurst (from the TV series Hercules) is also in the cast, playing a hyper-active pimp who he describes as “a self-important crazed sexual animal.”

There’s also a guest appearance by New Zealand television star Lucy Lawless, who has earned international fame with her title role in the popular series Xena Warrior Princess. Tsoulis gave Lawless her first film role, in her debut short film A Bitter Song.

Athina Tsoulis says her new feature is set on the border of society, and reveals a part of Auckland’s underbelly complete with its colourful characters and street-life.

“I wanted to film in authentic settings, so I used a lot of settings in Auckland’s red-light district, and then I borrowed interiors from anyone who’d listen.”

Producer Liz Stevens says the project is “fresh and energetic – it doesn’t take itself seriously.”

Teenage bad-girl Siggy comes up with a plan to steal some money, which she’ll use to help her friends break out of their mundane lives. Her heist involves decoy cops, sexual distractions, misleading codewords, and narrow escapes.

Jodie Rimmer relished the role. “I loved her. She’s searching for adventure, she cares about the people she’s working with, and wants to help them fulfill their dreams. The title is what it’s about really – she yearns to make the people around her happy.”

Australian comedian Sandy Ireland plays one of Siggy’s friends, a dominatrix who falls unexpectedly in love with the mild-mannered Drew (played by Ian Hughes from Topless Women Talk About Their Lives). Both have key roles in their friend’s heist, which brings them together and will change their lives.

Also experiencing major changes during the film is agrophobic Lester, played by Carl Bland. He auditioned for the film one day before flying to Spain, where he appears regularly as a butler in a television advertising campaign.

“The film has a great script which works on many levels,” he says. “Each character has a moment of transformation. The balance between comedy and believability seems right, and no one is fitted into a strait-jacket of class, gender or sexuality, which for me was like a breath of fresh air.”

I’ll Make You Happy was written by Anne Tsoulis and Athina Tsoulis with development finance from the New Zealand Film Commission and the South Australian Film Commission. It has additional dialogue by Chad Taylor.

Producer Liz Stevens raised independent investment for the shoot, and then received post-production investment from the New Zealand Film Commission, which is handling international sales.


 

© NZfilm

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