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Chronesthesia – Stand-in now in front of the camera

Chronesthesia – Stand-in now in front of the camera


Chronesthesia is a feature film written and directed by Hayden J. Weal that has recently finished shooting in Wellington. Shot on weekends over four months and on a zero budget, the movie is pitched as a ‘psychological romantic thriller’ based around the idea of mental time travel, or ‘time travel of the brain’.

Having spent a few years as Martin Freeman’s (Bilbo Baggins) stand-in on The Hobbit, Hayden was in a privileged position to watch and learn not only from a multitude of accomplished actors making up the cast, but also from a world leading director, Sir Peter Jackson.

The experience armed Hayden with skills and inspiration to get out there and produce his own feature film – although he didn’t have hundreds of millions at his disposal. Cast and crew gave their time and energy for free. Locations were sourced for no cost or a small koha. The only thing they had to pay for was lunch.

“I deliberately didn't think about how much energy and time this project would take. The work involved in making visual art is always more than expected, but if I allowed myself to confront the enormity of the task, I would still be talking and dreaming about it,” Hayden says.

The film explores the difficulty and fear of what it is to be emotionally present in life. “To invest in someone else's wellbeing and put your heart on the line is rewarding and nearly always worth the risk, but it's something that I see happening less and less, and that I personally have trouble with. Empathy feels like it’s undervalued in today's offline society and in this film we show how something as simple as taking the time to talk to people can save lives”, says Hayden.

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Hayden drew a strong Wellington cast, comprising the likes of Cohen Holloway (What We Do in the Shadows and Boy) and Julian Dennison (Shopping and Taika Waititi’s upcoming film starring alongside Sam Neill).

But for the lead role, Hayden required someone with a little flexibility. “I reasoned the only actor willing to work every weekend over four months for no money (and leap into a freezing cold ocean), would be myself.” Hayden is no stranger to the camera having appeared in TVNZ’s, Girl vs Boy.

Hayden still needed a crew and he found practically a one-man-band in the director of photography, Simeon Duncombe. Working as an Animation Supervisor at WETA digital, Simeon is also no stranger to big budget films like The Hobbit and more recently Batman vs. Superman. He recently released his own visual effects based short film, Trick Meter, online this year to very positive reviews and success – which can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/128714619.

“During the week I would plan what scenes we would be shooting, which cast members were required and their availability. Then I’d look at what props, art department and filming equipment we needed and a rough schedule for the day. Simeon took care of all the camera and sound, my partner Abby Damen took care of the wardrobe and art department and we recruited the odd hand here and there if necessary. It was epic.”

Chronesthesia is now in post-production and Hayden is currently editing the film remotely from his MacBook while he travels around Europe. He sends the files back to NZ where Simeon holds test screenings to garner feedback from trusted industry colleagues.


Hayden has been keeping an up to date Behind the Scenes blog from the beginning of the process. He updates it regularly with all the milestones of the filmmaking process and has had over 150,000 hits since setting it up last November, 2014: www.haydenjweal.com/bts.

Chronesthesia will shortly dip its feet into the festival circuit and will be available online or at your local store in 2016.

Video here:



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