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NZ filmmakers blaze new trail for indie feature STRAY

NZ filmmakers blaze new trail for indie feature STRAY

Filmmakers Dustin Feneley and Desray Armstrong of Long Road Films are breaking new ground in New Zealand in their approach to financing their independent feature film STRAY. In order to raise the film’s production budget completely independent of government funding, the pair approached patrons of the arts throughout New Zealand and Australia over several months and secured the bulk of the film’s budget in private equity investments. To complete the budget, they are currently running a donation-based crowdfunding campaign on NZ platform, Boosted. They initially set an ambitious target of $75,000 – and reached it just 13 days into their 30-day campaign. In doing so, they have set the record for the largest amount ever raised for an artistic project on the platform. Buoyed by this unprecedented response, they are now aiming for a new goal of $125,000 and with 11 days still to go in the campaign, they’re not taking their foot off the pedal.


STRAY is the highly anticipated debut feature film from award-winning writer/director Dustin Feneley. In a cold and remote landscape, two strangers, a young man and a woman, find solace in each other as they struggle to repair their broken pasts. STRAY is a compelling and unconventional love story of two damaged people who, through their chance connection, ultimately find strength and the opportunity for redemption. The film, set in winter in the stunning Southern Alps, will commence principal photography in Central Otago in August.


The project has already garnered significant international accolades. In 2011, STRAY was one of nine projects worldwide shortlisted for the Cannes Film Festival's esteemed screenwriting Résidence in Paris. In 2012, it was one of eight projects selected internationally for the prestigious Directors Lab of the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam and in 2013, STRAY was selected for CineMart, the longest-running co-production market in the world, held as part of the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

After a lengthy script development process, Feneley and Armstrong looked to the American indie film scene for inspiration on film financing, where private equity investment, major arts philanthropy and crowdfunding are commonplace for independent filmmakers. Inspired by this indie pathway, Feneley and Armstrong sought to attract investors from Australasia’s arts scene, where they were pleased to find considerable backing for their arthouse film. These private investments complement significant film industry partnerships, including from Peter Jackson’s company Park Road Post, who have come onboard to offer post-production services. The film’s final budget comprises private equity investments, in-kind film industry investments, corporate sponsorships and donation-based crowdfunding.


Boosted is a donation-based crowdfunding platform run by The Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Boosted is dedicated to arts projects and, because of its status as a registered charity, uniquely offers donors a 33% tax rebate on their donations.

STRAY’s Boosted campaign has already achieved considerable success. Having currently raised $85,640, the campaign has some serious names behind it. One of New Zealand’s most notable arts patrons, Dame Jenny Gibbs, is backing the film as a significant Match Donor and many leading film industry practitioners, including Sam Neill, Jan Chapman, Bruce Beresford, Alison Maclean, Bridget Ikin and Robert Connolly have made donations.

Feneley and Armstrong didn’t anticipate the overwhelming response they would receive for their debut feature film. “We’ve been blown away by the amount of support we’ve received from so many generous arts patrons, film industry professionals, family, friends and members of the public. It’s been humbling and inspiring and spurred us on even further to make a bold cinematic film for a national and international audience.” – Dustin Feneley


The filmmaking team behind STRAY comprises award-winning talent in front of and behind the camera, including writer/director/producer Dustin Feneley (Snow, Hawker), producer Desray Armstrong (Meathead, Ellen is Leaving), cinematographer Ari Wegner (Ruin, The Kettering Incident), and editor Simon Price (The Orator, Cleverman). Attached in the lead roles are Beulah Koale (Manurewa, The Last Saint) who has recently wrapped filming as a lead role in the DreamWorks film Thank You For Your Service (opposite Miles Teller) and Kosovar actress Arta Dobroshi (Baby, Three Worlds) who came to international prominence in the Dardenne brothers' film Lorna's Silence in which she played the title role to great acclaim.

The STRAY Boosted campaign is currently running until Friday 6 May.

For more information about the film and the cast and crew, and to donate, visit the Boosted website:

To follow the film’s progress, ‘Like’ the official STRAY Facebook Page:


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