Young Kiwi filmmakers into final of NASA film competition

Lani's Space filmmakers Harriett Maire and Ferris Bradley (Supplied)
Lani's Space filmmakers Harriett Maire and Ferris Bradley (Supplied)

A pair of 21-year-old movie-makers from Auckland have rocketed to instant success after their short film made it to the final of CineSpace, a film competition run by NASA.

Lani's Space follows Manu, a solo father, and his attempts to draw closer to his daughter through her fixation with outerspace - and it's now been named as one of just 15 films to have make the film competition's shortlist, out of more than 900 applicants.

That means Richard Linklater - director of prominent Hollywood films School of Rock and Boyhood - will watch their 10-minute piece and decide whether it takes the top award.

Being in the shortlist has other perks, too - with each of the top 15 films being shown at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and being eligible for four other accolades, which are all accompanied by monetary prizes worth thousands of dollars.

Ferris Bradley, the film's producer and soundtrack composer, and Harriett Maire, its writer and director, have only made one film between them - and for Bradley, it was a surprise to see his silver screen debut on the CineSpace shortlist.

Young Kiwi filmmakers into final of NASA film competition

Harriett Maire and Ferris Bradley on set (Supplied)

"I wasn't expecting it, and though I was very proud of the film we had created, I was aware of how many variable factors affect the short film landscape which we are unable to control," he explained.

"It's extremely exciting - Linklater is such an important filmmaker and to think that he will be watching something we crafted and worked so hard on is massively rewarding."

Bradley said telling Maire their film was a finalist was "very odd and anti-climactic", due to them not being in the same country when the news broke.

"We expressed our excitement on Facebook Messenger for about 15 minutes, I walked around the office for a bit as I couldn't really concentrate, and I then went back to my desk to keep working. It was a great morning."

Maire, who works closely with Bradley at production company Film Construction, said the idea behind the film was to contrast "the expansive vastness of outer space with a very personal, intimate story about a father and daughter".

Young Kiwi filmmakers into final of NASA film competition

A production still of Lani (Supplied)

She says the film they created was very different to that of the 2015 finalists they'd been able to watch.

"The finalists we saw were mainly made in Texas, and celebrated America's successes in space. Our film is very different - not only in tone, but also the actors' accents and nationalities, the film's mood, and the season it was shot in," she said.

"The main character in our film literally falls asleep watching NASA stock footage with his daughter, so I think it's probably going to be quite different from the other finalists."

Young Kiwi filmmakers into final of NASA film competition

Lani and Manu on set (Supplied)

Maire says the reason Lani's Space made the shortlist is largely down to the support they had from their employers, who gave them a month off work to complete the project, and the key roles filled by talented family members.

"My father was the cinematographer and Ferris' mother was the art director. It was really special to have our loved ones so closely involved in helping craft a story inherently about family," she said.

Bradley says while what he and Maire have achieved is "a massive accomplishment", they are planning on submitting Lani's Space to other film festivals. They say they are also keen on developing their partnership, and working with one another in future film projects.

Lani's Space will be screened at the Houston Cinema Arts festival between November 10-17.