Locked down during the Napier siege, EIT screen production student Brock Reynolds is drawing on his experience of the tragic event to make a short film as his final-year diploma project.
Brock’s family lived in Vigor Brown Street when the horrific episode began to unfold on 7 May 2009. Three police officers, attempting to serve a routine cannabis search warrant on Jan Molenaar, living several blocks away in Chaucer Road South, came under fire.
Senior Constable Len Snee was killed in the hail of bullets and his fellow officers and a neighbour were injured.
With Molenaar well-armed and holed up in his house, the police mobilised, cordoning off the area to contain the gunman. Brock and his family were caught up in the lockdown as the Armed Offenders and the Special Tactics Group moved in.
The drama played out over 40 hours and finally ended with Molenaar shooting himself.
Brock was aged 16 at the time and a student at Napier Boys’ High School. Although he recalls the siege as a “surreal” and nerve-racking experience, he admits to not viewing it as seriously as he might seven years on.
“It’s not every day that something like that happens in your hometown,” he says of the bullets that flew over his house and blasted the window of a car parked near his home. “It did take its toll on me, but mostly I felt bored about being in lockdown for some days.”
The police had cautioned residents in the cordoned off area not to go near windows or to venture outdoors.
“That didn’t necessarily stop me,” Brock says. “It triggered my curiosity. Now, I’d like to say I wouldn’t have gone on such big walks or climbed up on the roof with binoculars – both of which I did at the time.”
But others also took risks. A neighbour, who ran out of formula for his newborn, was arrested after running a police roadblock to get in supplies.
For his short film, Brock, now 23, is adopting an ironic take on his younger self’s view of the siege. He’s written the script, cast the actors and is playing a policeman himself. The filming location is a house in Carnell Street, around the corner from where he and his family lived.
Acting a part in another student’s movie was what first attracted Brock to EIT’s Diploma in Screen Production. Now into his final semester, he’s found he likes the practical editing side of filming and also being behind the camera.
“I’m loving the programme,” he says. “It’s so much fun and I’m picking up small jobs around Hawke’s Bay, working for Top Blokes and Awa Transmedia Studios as well as Sky TV.”
Brock’s dream scenario would be to establish his own production company or to work with “a solid crew” in an existing company. But in the meantime, he’s looking forward to seeing his film screen along with those of his fellow students at the class finale later this year.