Film producer hopes to put Cambridge on the map

Some of the cast and crew of The Tavern at a script reading session in Cambridge. From left, back row: Andrew Lyall, Phill Palmer, Narina Riddle, Ryan Jackson, Brad Jackson, Penny D Boyce, Dan Sage. Front row: Thomas Easden, Matt Hicks. Photo – Catherine Fry.

There could be a Cambridge-based film in the works, if sponsors get in behind the project.

Life-long Cambridge resident Matt Hicks, a marriage celebrant, DJ, event MC and owner of a media production business, is working to make the dream a reality by producing his own Cambridge-based film.

He’s already written the script and appointed much of the cast and hopes to start filming in September if he can reach his $72,000 fundraising target.

“Unfortunately if I can’t raise the funds it won’t happen. That’s the cold hard reality, I don’t like to entertain those thoughts though,” said Matt, keeping a positive attitude that the community will rally behind the project.

“Everyone is such a good bugger in this town. I’m sure they’ll come through.”

The film, dubbed The Tavern, is set in Cambridge, following five small-town guys who have a race against time to save their beloved yet run-down tavern from an evil, big city property developer with sinister plans, as Matt described it.

“We have an amazing cast,” said Matt.

He says he may have secured two famous New Zealand actors for the film.

He would like to have some of Cambridge’s familiar faces as cameo appearances. He’s also hired ex- Cambridge High School student Andrew T Lyall to play Chris the lawyer, “a very funny, memorable side role,” he said.

“It’s ultimately a story about ‘home is where the heart is’.

“There’s an old saying, ‘write what you know’, and a lot of it is inspired by life growing up in Cambridge.

“I’m really proud to be a Cambridge native and I would love to showcase some of our beauty. Places like Lake Karapiro, the river, Maungatautari mountain, the horse paddocks of Kaipaki and Hautapu and the beautiful centre of town.”

Matt said a big motivator behind the film was representing small town New Zealand. “Because a lot of the film content that comes out of New Zealand is really city-centric… but the majority of New Zealand is like Cambridge.

“Provincial people aren’t really represented that well.”

Matt, a 31 year old ex-Cambridge High student, has spent the last few years working on small films and hopes to make it big with The Tavern.

“It’s the best time ever in history to make films. There’s been some awesome Kiwi productions come out in the last year for under $100k, like Hang Time, Status Pending, Stray, Same But Different. They are all an inspiration for me, and they were self-funded from their communities.”

The Ross brothers at C&R Developments, John Turney from Waikato Ready Mix Concrete Daniel Peake from McGregors Farm Services were the first local businesses to get in behind the project. Matt hopes more will join them. He is offering business packages including videos, premiere perks and shares in the film.

All going to plan, he hopes to have the film completed by Christmas, then giving it a run in the film festival circuit before a big premier in Cambridge.

“I’d love to see a red-carpet premiere at Tivoli as part of the Cambridge Autumn Festival, with all the good people who have helped me,” Matt said. “My goal would be for everyone in Cambridge to see it then tour it through the country in pubs, taverns, footy clubs and of course cinemas.”

Donations can be made through the Givealittle page or by contacting Matt direct on 027 630 9115. To find out more about the project, visit

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