Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Actor Albert Latailakepa stars in animated short film that tackles suicide and depression

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Fred is Cold short animated film. Photo: Boosted
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

Filmakers Ben Wilson and Mark Chayanat Whittet have pieced together an animated short film with the hopes of spreading a powerful message.

“Fred is Cold” is a 20 minute film created by the duo that aims to create discussion around suicide prevention and identifying the power of “being heard”.

The storyline follows the main character Fred, a household fridge, who struggles to interact with those around him until he bonds with repairman Josh who was assigned to fix the fridge light.

With a captivating message and well laid out animation, the film draws viewers through a roller coaster of emotions.

Young Tongan/Samoan actor Albert Latailakepa features in the film as the voice of Josh.

Young Tongan/Samoan actor Albert Latailakepa also features in the film voicing the character Josh. Having finished his studies in drama school three years ago, Latailakepa briefly met director Mark through a friend and immediately wanted to jump on board.

“Yeah he was just like oh man I have this idea and I really want you to be part of it” Latailakepa said.

“I’ve seen Mark’s work too through his art and animation and I am a huge fan of it. And yeah I just trusted him and Ben’s idea and put my best foot forward”.

Fresh into the acting and theatre scene, most of Latailakepa’s experience was with on screen acts. His work on Fred is Cold was his first time doing voice over work. It was a challenging process but was made easy due to the team behind the film.

“I think for the most part, it was really just trusting the writing process,” Latailakepa stated.

“From my side we just had like two days to get through the dialogue. At the start we were like warming but then me and Ben Ashby who voices Fred began to play around and find what fits the film best”.

Fred is cold official poster. Photo: Provided

With one of the highest rates of suicide in the world, the crew and cast of Fred is Cold are hoping that the film ignites changes around the topic in New Zealand.With an art form like filmmaking and animation, both directors Ben and Mark hope that their work creates an open space for those who need help.

“You know animation is such an accessible form of films and movies, which then sprung the conversation between us in terms of wanting to create a film with an accessible mental health message to it” Ben said.

“Mental Health we only hear about through the news, and they are not the nicest of stories. Film has the power to finish those sentences and helps make the issue kinder and empathetic”.

With Mark having a background as an artist, his input towards the project was important in enforcing their message.

“When you watch Disney animated films for example, you can really push the themes to the forefront. And it brings a more light approach to the topic giving it an open space to discuss and hold conversations” he said.

Filmakers Ben Wilson and Mark Chayanat Whittet are eager to get the film good coverage and get the message across in hopes of addressing the high rates of suicide in the country.

Future plans for the film have yet to be solidified, with discussion for film festivals and international viewings still in talks, however both directors are eager on getting the film good coverage and get the message across in hopes of addressing the high rates of suicide in the country.

In the meantime, the crew and cast have one message to anyone out there in need of help or is going through tough times.

“Take your time with one another,” Latailakepa said.

“Reach out to your friends and always make sure to check up on them. Sometimes it’s as easy as just giving them a call or message and seeing how they are doing”.

As for Ben and Mark, they hope to see more films and creative work in the community helping out those in need.

“The movie isn’t really about trying to fix people, but more so making them feel less alone. Building connections and communications is also key in being able to help those who feel alone”.

Need help right now?
Contact free helpline and text services for someone to talk to. You are not alone.
Lifeline Helpline: 0800 543 354 or text 4356
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0509 828 865

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