Fiona Ellett, Ben Coyle, Cherrie Bartolome, Bailey Harding, Natalie Chan, Vanessa Howe, Antonio Lim, Liam Bready, Cormac Griffin, Joshi Cho Smoke and Mirrors

  • Tauira / Students
    Fiona Ellett, Ben Coyle, Cherrie Bartolome, Bailey Harding, Natalie Chan, Vanessa Howe, Antonio Lim, Liam Bready, Cormac Griffin, Joshi Cho
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Jonathan King

Smoke and Mirrors is a new, exciting take on the mystery genre set in Aotearoa, New Zealand. On the night of her 21st birthday, outgoing and popular university student Mia Baxter decides to flee town after an incident leaves her shocked to the core. Soon after, four students from different walks of life are each sent mysterious notes regarding her disappearance. Suddenly thrown together, they must confront one another in order to uncover the secrets and lies that have caused Mia to disappear. Heavily influenced by the whodunit and coming-of-age genre, we wanted to develop an intriguing storyline revolving around stereotypical characters, each with their own quirks, unexpected betrayals, secrets, relatable friendships and jaw dropping plot-twists.

Inspired by media such as Riverdale (before the Gargoyle King), How To get Away With Murder, Scream, Gone Girl, Euphoria and Knives Out, it was our goal to create a narrative that would also speak strongly to our own generation. Originally targeted for the millennial demographic, we decided to draw upon people from all ages, genders, and races who were experiencing mental health issues within New Zealand. In our narrative, we strived to include topics such as Addiction, Anxiety, Sexual Orientation/Identity struggles, Racism and Cyber-Bullying. For us, this was a major factor within our narrative as we wanted to create a project that would stand out to people in a similar age range/demographic. By doing this, we hope that our intended target audience for the pilot episode would be able to connect with these characters on screen.

To bring the element of realism and drama into play for our pilot episode, our team incorporated storylines that drew upon personal events experienced within our own lives individually. Visually, we achieved this through specific costumes, lighting, sound and colour grading to give our characters their own identity on screen. From first names to character aesthetic, we collectively worked together to create fictional individuals who were relatable to our demographic.

Overall, this has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Our team was fortunate enough to work alongside a group of unique and creative individuals who understood the personal goals set out for this project, as well as our collaborative decisions. Each department ensured that every sound, visualisation on screen, colour, costume, camera angle and lighting were met to our Director’s expectation. Thank you to our cast and crew, and to those who have supported our journey thus far.

We hope to see you on the New Zealand screen soon.