Pennie Hunt and Stefan Roesch are the latest to be accepted into our LIFT programme. The pair are working on their business FilmQuest.

FilmQuest provides a platform for people who want to explore the world's iconic film locations, discover the best film tourism experiences and read about film-inspired travel stories.

Pennie and Stefan recently won Petridish’s competition Rising Tide, giving them a place in our LIFT programme. They have been paired with mentor Samuel Junghenn. We recently caught up with the trio to find out more about them.

Read below to find out why Pennie loves target shooting at fake animals, how Stefan came up with the idea for the business and what Samuel wants to help the team achieve.


What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

Back in 2001, I came across a headline about film fans travelling to New Zealand to see the locations from The Lord of the Rings. I was fascinated. Why would people go to such lengths in order to visit film locations when all the sets had been removed?

Deciding to get to the bottom of things, I shifted from Germany to New Zealand to write my PhD thesis in film tourism at the University of Otago. In 2010, I published the results in the book, The Experiences of Film Location Tourists (Channel View Publications: London).

After graduating in 2007, I realised that there is a real lack of knowledge in the industry about film tourism so I started to consult destinations on how to utilise the tourism-inducing benefits of movies and TV shows for clients such as VisitBritain (on Paddington), VisitDenmark (Trolls), The Royal Film Commission of Jordan (The Martian), Failte Ireland (Star Wars) and Tourism Northern Ireland (Game of Thrones).

Starting up FilmQuest has been a dream of mine for many years and I am thrilled to be able to share the world of film tourism with the fan community.

What are you looking forward to getting out of this process with Soda?

We are in a crucial phase with FilmQuest. After the initial investment of setting up the website and filling it with high-quality content, we need to take our start-up to the next level both in terms of exposure as well as sales.

I believe that Soda will provide us with the right framework to strategise our goals for the next five to ten years. And of course, access to the Soda network will be invaluable for us.

Our mentor Samuel Junghenn was an obvious choice due to his strong record in digital marketing and sales. We are really looking forward to tapping into Samuel’s extensive experience on how to fast-track our business over the coming months. Did I mention that both Samuel and I love skiing/snowboarding?

Tell me something not everyone knows about you?

Talking about skiing, my biggest goal as a child was to become a professional slalom skier. I was thirteen years old when I watched my first Winter Olympics which took place in Calgary in 1988. Having learnt to ski at the age of 3, I suddenly had this revelation: I would leave home, go to a boarding school in the Bavarian mountains and become a world-class athlete. It sounds weird but I could literally see my life over the next ten years playing out in my head.

Unfortunately, my parents kept insisting that I should follow a more traditional path – but I’m not sure they had film tourism and filmmaking in mind.


What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

I’m here because of Stefan. He came to Dunedin to begin work on a PhD on the experiences of film location tourists and we met when he’d only been in town a few days. So, I’ve been on this journey with him since its very inception. As a filmmaker and script writer myself, there’s obviously a real synergy for me in working on the creative aspects of the business - and travelling to many incredible film locations we’ve seen together has been a fantastic perk of the job.

What are you looking forward to getting out of this process with Soda?

As someone who enjoys generating ideas and creating content for the FilmQuest website, it will be good to have a mentor who can help us dial back from the big picture and concentrate on a concrete way forward. This will give us the confidence we need to grow the business.

Tell me something not everyone knows about you?

Stefan and I lived in Germany for nine years and I took up longbow archery while we lived there. In Bavaria and Austria there are many stunningly beautiful archery parks where you can walk through fields and forests shooting at life-sized (but fake) animal targets. It’s perhaps a strange sport for a near-vegetarian to love, but the zen-like combination of hiking and concentrated target shooting is an incredible discipline. I really miss it here in New Zealand.


What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

I have always been involved in business because my parents were always self-employed. After owning and growing a number of different ventures and seeing the power of the internet when it first came to Australia, business growth using the internet to grow businesses was a natural fit.

When I started learning about online marketing I hadn't had any income for a year after selling my previous businesses and I had spent all the proceeds on seminars and mentors. Having no income or capital left I put myself in a situation where I couldn't fail. I started taking on clients with the base knowledge I had and they would ask if I could do other online marketing services which I didn't have a track record in.

The answer was always "yes" and I would commit to getting the client the result they were after, this forced me to learn quickly to ensure I could deliver. Many times working over 16 hours a day, 7 days a week in the early days, this helped propel my career rapidly.

What are you looking forward to getting out of this process with the FilmQuest?

I'm looking forward to seeing a great idea turn into a thriving business, while watching the owners go through a transformation of personal development in what they believe is possible.

Tell me something not everyone knows about you? (funny, inspiring, uplifting etc)

I'm a bit of a nerd. Hang on most people know that.

Most people don't know that I didn't do very well at school and I was a slow learner. I'm still a slow reader and writer, but I have turned this into a superpower where when I don't know how to do something I voraciously devour information to give me an advantage.

I listen to at least 1 audio book a week and have trained myself to process most books on 2x speed while being able to type notes and think about them. The same goes for YouTube videos.