Doing The Heavy Lifting

Christian Nicolson, photo by Michael Craig

Christian Nicolson, photo by Michael Craig

Christian Nicolson’s This Giant Papier Maché Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy recently had its first public screenings on NZ soil after trips to the US and UK for festival appearances where it won awards. It’s been coming for a while. Nicholson had the idea for a low-budget space epic some time before the original (2011) Make My Movie competition.

“I wanted mine to be special. Big, creative and epic, but achievable with some hard work and creativity. So that was my idea. A massive sci fi comedy with props, costumes, locations, big sets and extras – the works. But set in a low budget universe where everything looked fake and we could pull it off.” When the competition was announced Nicolson and co-writer Andrew Beszant “worked on developing the idea more seriously”.

“It wasn’t a true low-budget movie idea,” Nicolson explained. “I ticked all the boxes a low budget film should not have (multiple cast, multiple locations, large sets, props, elaborate costumes and large shoot day schedule).”


Photo: Michael Craig

Despite that, it progressed a long way through the competition – all the way to the final head-to-head bake-off with eventual winner Traces of Nuts’ How to Meet Girls From a Distance.

Disappointed by the loss but not deterred, Nicolson pressed on. Nicolson is keen to credit Ant Timpson for his support of Boulder. Indeed, it’s likely the next outing for Boulder will be at Auckland’s Hollywood – the venue Timpson’s brother owns.

Boulder began shooting in 2013, but then took a break while Nicolson and producers looked again at their options. New producers expressed an interest in the project, but only if it was shot in 4K and not on the DSLR with which Nicolson had commenced production.

“I bought a second-hand RED One Mx off e-bay and went to Australia to collect it.”

Photo: Zephir Delamore

Photo: Zephir Delamore

The new producers decided to leave the project before it started shooting again, “but lots of people were keen to come on board and get a go at shooting with what Peter Jackson had used.”

By the end of the year (2013), Nicolson pressed the go button again, with new kit and a new crew ready to go. The plan was to shoot the film on weekends over the next five months or so. Second time around the production got three days into the shoot before another major change was imposed.

The lead actor decided to quit, not convinced that Nicolson’s production schedule would work, and not prepared to commit for a longer period of time. So, Nicolson stepped in. “Now I was producer, ad, art director, set builder, prop maker, director and a lead actor.” As well as doing costumes, Nicolson’s wife Kirianne was looking after the couple’s children and catering the shoot days.


  1. Cool!

    John Harris 5 years ago Reply