Duane Evans Jnr as ‘Nathan’ and Te Ahitaewa Hakaraia-Hosking as David.

Headlight Films are excited to announce that ‘Possum’, has completed post production and we’re now ready to show it to the world.

Set in New Zealand in the 1970s, Possum is a tale of two young brothers who accompany their lumberjack father to a forest campsite. At odds with each other, the two hatch a plan to head into the woods and hunt for a notorious possum named Scar.

Possum is a short film based on a true story between director Dave Whitehead and his older brother Nathan.

The film was shot in beautiful Otaki and at Battle Hill, Paekakariki, New Zealand. Possum was made in association with the New Zealand Film Commission as part of the Fresh Shorts funding scheme. Thanks to the NZFC, Park Road Post, The Media Design School, Portsmouth Rentals, Weta Workshop, Jilin Animation Institute, Bespoke Post and all the other generous businesses and individuals who helped make this film.

More news to follow.


Possum has been preselected to screen at the Madrid Art Film Festival this year. Fingers crossed for final selection. It would be wonderful to share this with a Spanish audience! Check out their website here. More festival announcements coming soon.


Possum is screening in Melbourne next week and we’re pretty happy about it. There are only tickets available for the Tuesday screening now, so better be quick. You can buy them here.

Saturday 12 August 2017 at 4:00pm     SOLD OUT

Tuesday 15 August 2017 at 9:00pm

We’re also very pleased to be a part of the 2017 Accelerator Lab. Dave Whitehead will be heading there with an amazingly talented bunch of filmmakers Zoe McIntosh, Rachel Ross, Rachel House, Briar Grace Smith, Jessica Sanderson, and Kath Akuhata Brown.

Big thanks to the New Zealand Film Commission for helping us get over there and for the awesome crew at MIFF, Accelerator Labs and MIFF 37°South for setting up such an awesome program. See you there!

From filmlink.com:


Part of the MIFF 37°South Market suite of industry programs, Accelerator Lab is an intensive workshop that helps selected short filmmakers hone their skills, craft and contacts in preparation for their transition to feature-length film directing with a four-day program of talks, screenings, seminars, networking and discussions on the creative and business aspects of the film industry. Over its 14 years, Accelerator Lab has fostered some extraordinary talent including: David Michod (Animal Kingdom); Matthew Bate (Shut Up Little Man, An Audio Misadventure); Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays); Justin Kurzel (Snowtown); Ben Young (Hounds of Love); and Taika Waititi(What We Do In The Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok).

Read the full article here.

We’re very excited to have Possum screening in Auckland and Wellington at the NZIFF as part of the Nga Whanaunga Maori Pasifika Shorts programme. Looking forward to sharing this with a New Zealand audience. Don’t forget to wear your Swanndri! Get in quick if you want tickets and see you there!


Saturday 22 July, 6.00pm ASB Waterfront Theatre

Monday 24 July, 10.15am ASB Waterfront Theatre

Saturday 29 July, 6.15pm Event Cinemas Manukau


Sunday 13 August, 1.15pm Soundings Theatre, Te Papa




Possum Flashbacks

Possum is a glimpse into a slice of kiwi (New Zealand) culture that is at the core of many New Zealanders. Like many others from the East Coast of the North Island in the 70’s, my father Wallace Whitehead, often took up contracts fencing, shearing or scrub cutting. I guess the money was ok, but it was certainly hard labor. It also often meant staying on site away from the family during the week. I remember how excited we were with dad coming home on Fridays with a big hug and bristles on his unshaven face.

Taming the land is at the root of all cultures and New Zealand is no exception in that department. Early settlers with wagons and bullock teams faced more treacherous tracks than our trusty old vehicle did, but our Land Rover was our iron horse that carried us into the wilderness. A few scenes are set in this vehicle and driving in the back of that old Land Rover remains a fond memory for my family. We sat facing each other in the back chatting, laughing, singing or waving hands and tongues at the cars behind. It was always fun, but sometimes terrifying, riding the bumps, churning through mud and teetering on hillsides.


Dave Whitehead holding up the old series one Land Rover in 1976

The bush camp scenes will resonate with some people around the world. The billy sitting over an open fire with a hot drink and food. Smoke rising up from the campfire and all feel safe and warm. The kids are out in the tent because the adults are snoring in the hut. It’s far more exciting in the tent with it’s gentle flapping in a breeze or the pitter patter of rain on the canvas. The tent was certainly a great way to feel closer to nature. Some times a little too close. You could never tell what beastie was lurking outside the cloth walls.


The original scrub cutters bush hut from 1976

Morning comes and light shimmers through the trees. We prepare for the day and discover that the things we take for granted like running water or flushed toilets are luxuries that we should appreciate more. In the case of this film, my dad and many other scrub cutters around New Zealand were paid to cut down the Manuka (Tea) trees that many now wish were still standing. Nowadays some farms with their Manuka still standing, reap the benefits of Manuka honey which is some of the best honey in the world and is great for the bees and humans alike.

I can’t really remember our family going on a holiday when I was young. Perhaps the odd day fishing, but we never really travelled anywhere for no good reason. My dad was one of the hardest working people I knew. It was common for us to tag along with him and work with him during the school holidays. I was pretty young when most of this was happening and it truthfully it wasn’t much hard labor for me, but I know my brothers John and Nathan did a lot of contract work over the years with my dad. Hunting, fishing and eeling always went hand in hand with this territory and whether one liked it or not possum hunting was part of that.


David and Nathan 1976. Even dishes were fun.

I realised at a young age that I was really great at crying to try and get what I wanted. The trick was to not cry so hard that you were put to bed without any supper, but with enough feeling that the adults took pity on you. I remember being mortified that I wasn’t aloud to go up into the bush with the guys, so I gave an award winning performance, cried with real heart and got my way. Possum is the story of my induction into the ancient art of camping, bush lore and hunting.

Thanks for following us. Please share with your friends and stay tuned for more on the shoot and post production of ‘Possum’.

Happy New Year!!

Dave Whitehead