Tainted Water

Documentary, New Zealand, 2007. 11’30 mins.
Team: Lucy Chapman, Julia Roiter Berensztejn, Catherine Duthie and Dell McLeod

“Of all the dates put forth by prophets and cultures for a doomsday, this is one with an authentic almost eerie feel to it. But what will happen? A global cataclysm is one possibility.”


Set in the township of Waitati, just outside of Dunedin, ‘Tainted Water’ is a film created by four eager Film Makers who set out on an epic journey to reveal the truth behind the Waitati water enigma. Along the way they stumbled upon crazed locals, corrupt councils and a mysterious substance lurking within the depths of the murky water. 

After interviewing locals and experts on the case it soon became clear that there was much more to this story than initially met the eye. There was in fact a much larger problem, but the question remained, would the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) tell the people what really was going on? 

What began as an innocent study in accordance with facts snowballed into the revealing of something much deeper, something that had the potential to affect not only the residents of Waitati but also the entire world.



The team consisted of Lucy Chapman, Julia Roiter Berensztejn, Catherine Duthie and Dell McLeod. Everyone contributed something to he film-making process. Lucy and Dell operated the camera, with Lucy doing the basic editing of the material and Dell doing the more complex editing on Final Cut Pro. Cat did background research for the film and also helped with editing and the soundtrack. Julia also assisted Cat with research and played a large role in doing the voiceover in Portugeuse! The team found it hard to balance the work load as editing, which was a large part of the process, could only be done by one person at a time and became particularly hard in the final stages!


Team members in order of appearance: Julia Roiter Berensztejn, Catherine Duthie, Dell McLeod and Lucy Chapman.

Behind the scenes

Most of the material we used wasn’t acting; it was in fact real interviews of people with real views. The only exception to this was the final scene where we had ourselves as actors, ironically playing ourselves! The space scenes and various other cutaways were “borrowed” from You Tube and handy Google image search, which we all rightfully credited. With our film being set in Waitati we made many group trips. We didn’t really plan interviews with locals; they were rather spontaneous and in the end it worked our really well as we discovered all the locals were very opinionated and therefore gave us some great material! One part of the film making process that I think the whole group enjoyed the most was our interview with Steve Rice, who is the Very Reverend of St Paul’s Cathedral. Everything he had said left us in awe, he spoke so well and what he had to say was really fascinating. Unfortunately we didn’t use much of his material in the final cut yet the experience of meeting a man with so much wisdom was worth the effort.


Steve Rice: Very Reverend of St Paul’s Church and St Paul’s Church in the Octagon, Dunedin.


We had a large amount of raw material that we had to cut down to the required length, which in the end we found very difficult and we still think perhaps that the final cut was too long. We used a lot of cutting between different interviews to build up the story, to create a hoax that didn’t actually exist. Music played a large part in building the tension of the film as it progressed. It begins with light, playful music to give Waitati a sense of beauty and uniqueness. However as we get more into the story the music becomes heavier and more intense, adding to the mystery of the story. Towards the end we used a large amount of visual overlays to help the viewer visualize the story, and they also added some credit to our ‘hoax’.


One response to “Tainted Water

  1. Ou est le synopsis?

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