Cameron Utiger: Cooking Up Cooked

April 23, 2021
22-year-old writer/director Cameron Utiger has mined his own adolescence for his Newcastle-shot coming of age comedy drama, Cooked.

“I’ve wanted to become a filmmaker since I was about ten-years-old,” says Novacastrian debutante, Cameron Utiger. “Watching behind the scenes videos on YouTube really swept me into the world of film and captured my imagination. My inspirations for this film all stem from real life.”

Write what you know, goes the classic idiom, and that’s exactly what Cameron Utiger – who also came armed with a rock-solid slab of influences including the wonderfully exuberant and pitch-perfect likes of Superbad and Dazed And Confused, along with the complete works of Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson – did with his just-completed debut feature film, Cooked.  “When I was around 16, I sat watched the behind-the-scenes of Superbad, and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldenberg explained that most of the film is just based on their real life experiences during high school. That resonated with me deeply, and I began writing down all the things that my friends and I experienced. In 2020, I began collecting all these stories and weaving them into my script. Like Superbad, almost everything in the film is inspired by real events.”

The film follows three friends over the course of the last day – and night – of high school, which comes dotted with life changing experiences at every turn. The film is youthful exuberance personified, though it’s not all played for laughs, with the three friends dealing with some tough issues too. Casting through the website StarNow, and shot entirely on Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K, Cooked was filmed entirely in Utiger’s hometown of Newcastle, two hours north up the coast from Sydney. “Newcastle has been fantastic,” Utiger says. “It’s my home town and I’ve been here my whole life. The regional film office Screen Hunter have been exceptional, and sourcing locations was far easier than I ever expected. The local community have helped the film become a reality in all aspects, like locations, permits, funding, etc. I saved for the last two years to raise half the film’s budget. I used Kickstarter to raise the rest, and the community came in spades, helping to raise the second half of the budget. I also shot the film whilst working and studying my degree at uni. The local community helped me to juggle the two over the three month shooting period.”

With the shoot wrapped, Utiger is now set to roll into post-production. “My dream is to have the film in cinemas across Australia,” says the writer/director. “I will be contacting producers and distributors in the hope to make this a reality. I will also look to submitting it into a host of film festivals to get the word out. In terms of who I want to see this film…everyone! But in particular Australians, especially those aged between 17 and 30, with whom the themes of an Australian coming of age story will resonate most.”

To follow the progress of Cooked, check out the film’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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  1. CHRIS WILSON

    Congratulations on your recent achievements I heard your story on Deb Knight today.

    I would really love for you to read “Something For Nothing (Lachie Munro #1)” by Novacastrian Journalist, Andy Muir.

    That story really deserves to be brought to life, and it would seem fitting for someone like yourself to be behind it.

    Just thinking!

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