First Sneak Peek for 2018 – The Pretend One

Down Under Berlin's program 2018 is released on 23 July and here's the first sneak peek: Tony Prescott's enchanting tale The Pretend One. We talked to main actor Michael Whalley.

We celebrate this year with the most unusual coming of age story you’ll see. Why? The one coming of age is a 27-year-old imaginary friend. Down Under Berlin presents The Pretend One from writer/director Tony Prescott.

Michael Whalley as 'Hugo'




"This is the heart-warming tale of a young female farmer and her imaginary friend. He's been by her side for twenty years and counting. Now, as he watches her fall for another man - a real man - it dawns on him: he is in love with her. Unable to face losing her, he must fight to become real himself.”The Pretend One

Down Under Berlin was lucky enough to chat to one of the films stars Michael Whalley, who plays Hugo, the imaginary best friend in question. Whalley is originally from New Zealand and studied at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School before he moved to Australia 9 years ago. Having worked on both stage and screen in Australia and New Zealand, filming this film has been a special experience for Whalley. Shot entirely in Condamine, 4 hours west of Brisbane, on a remote, working cotton farm in Central Queensland, filming took 3 weeks in this picturesque but harsh country Australia.

The Pretend One feels like a modern-day fairytale, and when I asked if this was the intention of the creative team or just a beautiful fluke, Whalley answered succinctly that that was the feeling on set, especially after they watched the footage that was filmed the previous day. A modern-day fairytale but with a character awakening that is less subtextual than a fairytale we may read to a child. But in this context, I asked if when he first read the script did he think an audience would buy the fact an adult woman would still have an imaginary friend?



“I did. If we can have Khalesi’s Dragons flying around our screens then an adult imaginary friend was completely plausible. We all have our imaginations, some more in the forefront of our lives than others, and Charlie had always been a lonely, isolated farm girl, so naturally, her company needed to be manifested. I’d like to think many of us still imagine there are great people around us if they don’t yet ‘truly’ exist in physical form. The writers and Director always wanted to show the beauty and power of imagination.“

Hugo and Charlie

Filming sounds like the full country experience. With a lack of accommodation in the area, especially for a travelling film crew, the cast and crew all stayed in small mining huts on the farm. According to Whalley, each night they would all sit around a fire and talk about the day that was just shot and the one to come.

“We were catered to by a local pub that hadn’t had 30 people to cater for in awhile, it seemed. There is only so many ways to cook ham and couscous, evidentially. And on Sundays, we would kick about in the lake and dam that you see in the film. “

As far as response to the film goes, Down Under loves it and the international anticipation around this film is exciting. Whalley says, “The reaction at the Newport Beach Film Festival this year was really buzzing, and the festival offered a second screening due to popularity which was unprecedented and great. Since word of that had got out and with some trailer previews showing on International flights there has been a lot of festival invites coming in. April was its first festival outing so hopefully, the film will have a long life.”

Young Hugo and Charlie



Will this affect Whalley’s career choices for roles in the future?

“Any work on a new Australian feature gets the casting houses talking, and all helps towards getting more opportunities to work with them towards other projects. I did start work on a television series as soon as the Newport Beach festival finished in April, so just maybe they’d seen The Pretend One trailer?! “

Down Under Berlin is very excited to have the European premiere of The Pretend One. Sure to be a hit with the audience, we suggest pre-buying your tickets as not to miss out, we only have one screening! Tickets will be available after the full program is announced on July 23rd.

Michael is currently filming the series Wanted for Netflix in Australia, and it will wrap shooting around the same time as DUB 2018 begins. For more on The Pretend One check out their Facebook page and come to see the film at Down Under Berlin 2018!

The Pretend One


Tony Prescott | AUS | 2017 | Drama, Comedy | 86 min | English

Will be screened on 21 September 2018 at 8.30pm.

View the entire 2018 festival program here.


Get your tickets soon, and we’ll see you at the movies!

All images ©The Pretend One

Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, and along with her husband, is the founder and content manager of the online travel guide My Guide Berlin

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