Who Will Rule The Roost? Join members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in the lead up to the NZ National Championships, as they battle history and each other in a quest for glory and for the love of their birds. Meet Doug the determined Club President, Rhys the young upstart, Sarah the chicken whisperer, Brian the loveable champion, Ian the exacting judge and more. Pecking Order is a hilarious, unique, heart-warming slice of Kiwiana which will delight and surprise audiences of all ages.
Interview with Director/Producer Slavko Martinov
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you. The film was a happy accident - I was filming a doco in Melbourne and followed the subject to a craft show/organic fair just outside of the city. I saw some women selling bags of high end organic chicken feed. I thought, who the hell is buying that? So I went over for a chat and asked about what they do. When they nonchalantly mentioned that "top breeders on the national show circuit" buy loads of feed, my eyes lit up. Avian poultry pageantry...?
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I'd love the audience to see this if they have the same reaction as I did when I discovered that there's a 'Best in Show' with chickens. I was shocked. But immediately hooked, because it's unexpected. (Well, for me anyway).
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
It's universal in the sense that it's fundamentally about how we organize ourselves in groups, regardless of size or how important we perceive those groups to be. And it's also an examination of the psychology of competition, as well as the concept of what we perceive beauty to be. Who decides on what is ideal for a species? On a personal level, I'm like everyone else: I have a paradoxical relationship with animals that I keep questioning.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Good question. The simple hook is 'Best in Show' with chickens (but it's real). However, I always take the position that if a subject seems too easy, then someone else out there must be working on it too. So I took the position of using that hook to examine HAR (human animal relationships), which is studied in anthropology as the field of Anthrozoology. That's fascinating to me and is part of a zeitgeist of films that deal with this in various ways (Grizzly Man, Project Nim, Blackfish and so on). However, my hopes that I could examine the layers of politics going on in the local club some way quickly came to the foreground and increasingly the film became a political film about the cycle of power and inevitability of change (that just happened to take place in the world of avian pageantry).
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The test screening in October went well. We adjusted accordingly. Seville International saw it shortly after those changes and took it on board, which is positive. And Vendetta and the NZFC seem happy and excited about it. And we've got 4 film festivals inviting it before we start. So...it can't be terrible. As you can see I'm the wrong person to ask. I'm plagued with self doubt right now. (Perfectly normal, I know).
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I'm always pleasantly surprised by positive feedback. Seville taking it on as a finished film is very flattering, for example. But I get the most out of challenging criticism and there was plenty to work with from the test screening. We can always do better, we think. And we like being pushed and critiqued. But I really can't think of anything I can add to this film. I did my best.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I'm really thrilled to be asked to discuss my film with an organization that supports equal representation of women in film. I've been lucky enough to grow up in a feminist household, raised by my mother and sister. And the NZFC have just given me development funding for a feminist film (feature doco), so connecting with film lovers who support such interests inspires me. I'll be looking for inspiration for my next films by participating here.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Getting the interest of film festival directors is ideal, of course. But primarily it's about buyers. We're off to a good start already, so hopefully some good first screenings give us momentum.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'd love for people to be entertained, of course. But more than that, I'd like people to come away having conversations about the great characters and unique setting. It's an inherently Kiwi film. And there are layers of meaning and politics thread throughout the film for people to excavate if they wish.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What does our relationship with animals say about us as a species?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The key creatives? There are only two of us! We have two feature docos in development and numerous other projects on our slate. It'll be a case of managing different projects as they move through development at different times. (And finding time...!).
Interview: April 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Who Will Rule The Roost?
Director: Slavko Martinov, Mike Kelland
Producer: Slavko Martinov
Writer: Slavko Martinov
About the writer, director and producer: Born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, Slavko founded screen activist group Sabineprogram in 2012 and created a new genre (propumentary) for his debut feature film Propaganda, which Michael Moore awarded the top prize at the Academy-qualifying Traverse City Film Festival in 2013.
Slavko has written, produced and directed two theatrical features (Pecking Order and Propaganda) and two prime-time television documentaries (The Nip Tuck Trip and One 16th).
Key cast: Doug Bain, Mark Lilley, Rhys Lilley, Brian Glassey, Sarah Bunton, Marina Steinke, Ian Selby, Brett Hawker
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): all taken care of
Social media handles: https://www.peckingordermovie.com
Funders: New Zealand Film Commission (and a private investor)
Made in association with: Vendetta and Seville International
Where can I see it in the next month? Hot Docs, followed by NZ premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival (Autumn Events) May 09. Then NZ release from May 18. Followed by numerous film festivals (can’t disclose yet).