Filmmakers search nationwide for Poppy star

The makers of new feature film Poppy are close to finding their leading lady.

The film, which is set on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington, is about a young woman with Down syndrome who wants to be free to live the life she chooses and do the work she loves. So she is forced to take control of her destiny. It’s a story about falling in love, learning to drive and entering the local car burnout competition.

Writer-director Linda Niccol says 18 women between the ages of 16 and 30 have auditioned  so far.

She says Catch Casting’s Linda McFetridge has the job of finding the right person. “It is Catch Casting’s first experience of casting a lead role for a person with a disability.” 

The IHC Foundation has contributed $25,000 to provide acting coaching for ‘Poppy’. This will involve performance-related workshops, rehearsals with other key actors and one-on-one coaching with Miranda Harcourt, supplemented by others in her team if the actor lives out of Wellington and travel. Miranda has worked as an acting coach all over the world, with stars including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Kiwi actor and comedian Rhys Darby. 

Linda Niccol says the actor playing Poppy will need to be comfortable around cars and engines. “To get the actor familiar with the day-to-day workings of a garage will involve work experience in a garage in the actor’s home town. There will also be driving lessons,” she says.

“Our team is thrilled to receive early financial support from the IHC Foundation and are very grateful that the project has been recognised in this way.” 

Miranda Harcourt says Poppy is a story firmly centred in the world of self-determination. “She is a wonderful character leading a unique and wonderful story. What a rewarding challenge for the actress playing Poppy and for the cast and crew that support her. Now is the time to be widening and deepening the film industry, the way stories are told and the way difference is celebrated."