Independent NZ feature ﬁlm, #statusPending will have its NZ premiere at the Embassy Theatre on May 21st. The improvised romance dramedy has been selected to play at an exclusive advanced screening for the inaugural WLG-X festival. With social media themes, it’s ﬁtting that #statusPending plays at WGL-X festival with its emphasis on creativity and technology. #statusPending is Ben Zolno’s directorial debut and explores whether relationships can survive an environment in which our self-worth is based on how we view our status through a lens of “likes, comments and shares”.
Inspired by international events such as SXSW in Austin, Texas – WLG-X is part summit, part festival and explores the cross-overs between the worlds of technology, design, film and music. WLG-X Film Curator, Bryan Glick, was immediately drawn to Status Pending as a ﬁlm that incorporates humanity in a modern-day tech environment.
"We loved the emotional depth of the characters, as well as how the story addresses the struggles we all face at times in our lives and relationships", says Bryan.
In Status Pending, we spend a day with Lizzie (Ivana Palezevic), social-media obsessed baker who has spent the past six months dating her Tinder match, Ryan. While Ryan wants more from the relationship, Lizzie wants to keep her options open. When scrolling through her social media feeds, Lizzie stumbles upon a once-in-a-life time, year-long trip around the world, which happens to be sponsored by the company that Ryan runs. Emotions run high as Lizzie has only a few hours to decide whether to chase the adventure, or commit to the man beyond her screen.
Ex-Californian resident, Zolno was looking to escape a world in which so many people were struggling to chase the “perfect life”. He eventually settled in New Zealand, where he was surprised to ﬁnd the chase is still evident, and began wondering if his travel was, ironically, a sign that he too was chasing the perfect life. This was the seed for Status Pending. As a budding ﬁlmmaker, Zolno was also pleased to discover the burgeoning ﬁlm industry within Wellington, New Zealand - home to Weta Digital, Sir Peter Jackson, and others.
"A lot of people talk about making feature ﬁlms, but never seem to get around to doing it. And when I looked in the mirror, I realised I was frustrated at being one of those people. I come from an improv and documentary background, so, I found some like-minded Kiwis who were keen to explore an improvised- dialogue story I'd developed, and we just went for it," says Zolno.
Shot on a microbudget model, the ﬁlmmakers had to be innovate whilst also maintaining high production values. They also used technology, shooting dual cameras with the Sony A7S, a light sensitive DSLR camera that can see in lower light than the human eye can.
"This sensitivity probably gave us an extra two hours of shooting per day, and deﬁnitely assisted in the calibre and continuity of the performances, with no need for time-consuming lighting set ups” says Zolno.
#statusPending was shot over nine days, in one location, with a skeleton crew and was produced by Kelly Kilgour (Chronesthesia).
"Technology plays a huge and constant part in our daily lives and our connectivity with the rest of the world. But we haven't had the time as a society to absorb how this has impacted our relationships and our engagement with family and friends. There are beneﬁts, such as staying connected to people we may otherwise have lost touch with. But there are potential costs in how it risks creating distorted perceptions of ourselves and others," says Kilgour.
#statuspending has also received favourable reviews internationally, “The brilliant New Zealand feature ﬁlm is the kind of movie you watch when you want to discover your characters, and maybe ﬁnd out where you fall along their path.” – Christopher Garcia.