Nadia Maxwell on Reunion

Posted Wednesday 28 Oct 2020

Reunion still shot

A high-concept suspense thriller, Reunion was filmed in Wellington and produced by WIFT members Nadia Maxwell and Ainsley Gardiner, Georgina Conder and US-based Mike S Ryan. It stars Emmy Award�-winner Julia Ormond, and New Zealand's own Emma Draper, Cohen Holloway and John Bach, and opens in NZ cinemas 5 November.

Written and directed by US-born Jake Mahaffy (Free In Deed), Reunion follows heavily pregnant Ellie (Draper), who returns to her childhood home where she's reunited with her estranged mother (Ormond). Ellie becomes consumed by dark memories that haunt the house and ends up unearthing the hidden, horrifying reality of her family.

WIFT spoke to Nadia Maxwell about her latest project.

WIFT: What was it like collaborating with other producers?

NM: It was exciting to collaborate with other Kiwi female producers, especially the amazingly talented Ainsley and Georgina. It makes sense to collaborate and combine our strengths. In the past I've been a sole producer. Collaborating means there's always someone on the end of the phone to bounce ideas around with, you feel more supported.

WIFT: How many women were in the crew?

NM: Gender ratio is always front and centre of my mind. Females made up 50% of our key creatives and we worked hard to create opportunities in other departments, especially those that tend to skew toward being more male, including internships for a female gaffer and camera assistant.

WIFT: How was the shoot?

It was an incredibly tight shoot - it was 22 days. My last film, Human Traces, was 24 days. On the face of it that seems achievable - we had one location, and most scenes were a two-hander between Julia and Emma. There was only one location away from the house. But we also had stunts and special effects, and we had to make weather plus there are some horror elements - all key to the film.

WIFT: How did you manage to find that beautiful old house?

We looked at hundreds of big old houses up and down New Zealand. We needed a large old character house still in its original state and needed some love, and had a dramatic staircase. In the end we found one in Naenae. It had belonged to a former Wellington mayor and had a river in the garden (apparently he used to row himself to work). A previous owner had painted a lot of the walls so our production designer Kate Logan asked the current owner if she could make some changes� they agreed to Kate re-papering every room! Kate did a phenomenal job designing Jake's vision for the house, and the owners were chuffed too!

What it was like working with Julia and Emma?

Julia plays a mother who has been gaslighting her daughter for years, and she gives an incredibly layered performance. The depth of experience and talent she brought to the film was great. It was Emma Draper's first feature role and she was incredible. She's destined for great things.

What's next for you?

I'm getting close to working on another feature with Human Traces director Nic Gorman, a mother-daughter sci-fi.

See our item below for how to win tickets to Reunion!


Emma Draper (left) and Julia Ormond in Reunion