The Story of Judgment Tavern

It’s late 2013 and I’m having a beer with Dean Hewison, who I’ve worked with on several ambitious, low-budget projects. He tells me about an idea he has for a film. It’s a sort of dark ‘Princess Bride’ where the opening shot is a young girl standing outside a medieval tavern, carrying her father’s living, severed head.  

Three years later, with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission and an immense amount of work from a team of very talented people we have a short film called Judgment Tavern.

So far we have premiered at the Sydney International Film Festival, screened in the New Zealand International Film Festival in the best shorts competition and played in Russia and Prague.  

And now we’re sharing it online for everyone to see it.

Judgment Tavern tells the story of Lucia, a young girl carrying her father's living head as they search for his fleeing body. On a cold dark night, they take shelter in a small village tavern - where a mysterious stranger with unfinished business is waiting.

Set in a medieval world of magic, with a talking head, it needed spectacular art department, clever VFX and actors who could take us on a difficult journey. With a very tight budget for such a complex setting, the production challenges were pretty enormous. Luckily we managed to pull together a talented team who were crazy and committed enough to pull it off.

Walking through the tavern on the first day of shooting was a truly jaw-dropping moment for Dean, seeing the world of his script come to life in all of it’s intricate detail.

This project was a real challenge due to the scale of it - short films often have one or two tricky elements, but this one seemed to combine all of them. With a fully built studio set, special effects, child actors and a desire to deliver at the best possible quality it required everyone involved to work at the to of their game, and we are grateful that they did.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process and its been a real pleasure to work with such a talented bunch of people who have given energy, time and creativity to this project. This film would not be what it is without them.