Wednesday, June 5
It was billed as a film challenge like no other and it certainly lived up to that.
Six teams of film-makers were chosen from hundreds of entries from around the world and flown to Rarotonga in May. Their brief was to shoot and edit a short film and have it ready to show in two weeks.
Executive producer Stan Wolfgramm’s plan was to put the Cook Islands on the map as a mecca for tropical island filming.
In February Stan and his Film Raro crew started a course on Rarotonga to teach locals the nuts and bolts of film making.
We ran through the scripts and script breakdowns then split into groups dedicated to each international team; one each from England and Australia; two from New Zealand and two from the United States.
We scouted locations and props, organised auditions, selected possible cast members, discussed costumes and then ran rehearsals.
Filming started as soon as each overseas team arrived and then the directors, camera and sound people acted as mentors to their local crew.
We filled roles such as production manager, location manager and props manager. We were all volunteers though so not everyone was available all the time because of work commitments. That made things difficult for some of the groups.
Film Raro provided three meals a day for the internationals but for crowd scenes with lots of extras we found extra food.
The editors were based at HQ, the Aitutaki Hostel where the meals were also served.
They started as soon as they had files to work with but film crews were out shooting last minute changes and pick-ups until, in at least one case, the day before the show!
In fact some editors were putting the finishing touches to their films as earlier ones were being shown
We’d hoped to screen all six films outdoors at the BCI stadium but unfortunately it rained all day so the venue was changed to the auditorium.
It was packed! The audience loved it and it was a real family affair.
Was it all worthwhile? Absolutely! Film Raro is something to shout about.
THE INTERNATIONAL TEAMS
England – Islands
Director/writer Tajinder Hayer and his crew of Mark Bull, Scott Dulson and Darryl Peat hail from Sheffield in the UK. ‘Islands’ is a dialogue and music-free story about freedom and the difficulty of breaking away. Read more on the FilmRaro website here.
Australia – Dog save the Queen
Director/writer Marcus Hamill with crew Lachie Milne, John Smetana and Toby Deneen produced a fun film about the Million Dollar Corgi Quest with a more serious side that looked at the ties of family and land. More here.
New Zealand – The Seed
Director/writer/editor David Gould with crew Raquel Sims, Simon Godsiff, Joel Anscombe Smith and Graham Smout. In ‘The Seed’ an old Rarotongan fisherman shows a young New Zealand boy that telling the truth can bring unexpected rewards. More here.
New Zealand – Mou Piri
Director/writer Karin Williams with crew Fred Renata and Sandy Wakefield. Karin is in fact a Cook Islander so she knows all about the beautiful scenery and friendly people of Rarotonga. This documentary takes advantage of both to tell the story behind Mou Piri, a romantic song that is now performed at weddings around the world. More here.
United States – Little Girl’s War Cry
Director/writer Erin Lau and the crew of Bryan Ruiz, Jamie Poliahu and Kristin Kouke are all students at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. ‘Little Girl’s War Cry’ looks at domestic violence through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. More here.
United States – The Offshore Pirate
Hollywood came to Rarotonga with producer/writers Robert and Webster Stone with their adaptation of an F Scott Fitzgerald short story. Together with director Eric Heimbold and camera operator Hagoth Aiono they visited Rarotonga on a recce of the island in early May then were joined by Nick, Brooks, Trent, Brett, Claude and Kirsten when filming started. In true Hollywood style, Pirates features adventure, romance, a grand dance scene and, of course, a car chase. More here.
So many people turned up to the first screening that the auditorium was filled to capacity, 2500 or so, and over 1000 people had to be turned away. They turned out for a second screening the following night and many others came along for a second look at all the movies.
The teams have now headed home where they will re-edit the footage and get it ready for sending to film festivals around the world. Fantastic publicity for the Cook Islands!
Eventually Stan and Film Raro will produce a DVD of everything but that won’t be available until after the movies have appeared in film festivals. They would be barred from entering if they were generally available beforehand. Worth waiting for though.
Check out the FilmRaro Facebook page for heaps more photos and comments.