Thursday, November 30, 2006

Better and better!

We’ve been frantically working towards getting gear together for the big trip and doing publicity, trying to get as much support for the project as possible. Consequently we haven’t updated this as often as we would have hoped. Here’s a big catch-up and we’ll try and keep blogging and keep you up with the play on a more regular basis from now on.

First up we’d like to welcome Sarah Lawrence to the crew. Sarah has trained in documentary directing and is currently interning at an NGO here in Auckland, but she has kindly offered her time and considerable smarts to the project, which is most appreciated.

Our itinerary has changed once again, as the boat that services the atolls, including Takuu, is one is now going early in December and then again later in the month. Rather than trying to press our departure date a bit earlier we’re currently expecting to go around December 20th. This leaves us more time to properly prepare our equipment and for Zane and Briar to finish getting shots for things like cholera, and get their lives in Auckland tidied up in preparation for a two month absence. A later travel date is also a good thing because of the unpredictability in processing time when getting a visa to enter Papua New Guinea. Having applied for the wrong kind of visa we had to start the process again, and we need to wait till Port Moresby gets in contact to give us the go ahead. All rather nerve-wracking.

Despite the volume and complexity of preparations and the difficulties of learning exactly what needs to be done going into somewhere like PNG as we go, we’ve been really pleased to be able to share the story of Takuu more widely with readers of the Aucklander,, and the Sunday Star-Times and with the listeners of the Larry Williams Show on Newstalk ZB and Nine to Noon on National Radio. Briar and Richard Moyle, possibly the world’s most patient anthropologist, are doing an interview on TV1’s Breakfast show at 7.40am tomorrow (Friday December 1), so you might want to tune in for that. Amber Older at Auckland University has been generously organising additional publicity and making sure we have all our outreach bases covered. You can find information about Takuu and our film on the Auckland University website.

We’ve been presented with so much support from so many companies, organizations and individuals it’s really very humbling. Panasonic are lending a DVX100 camera and Toughbook laptop as well as plenty of batteries – they’ve also come to the party with an offer of new tape stock, as have the wonderful people at Next Technology. Flying Fish are giving us backup stock for translation and transcribing (thanks Ems), and CineStuff are supplying us with a lighting kit free of charge.

Oxfam have been amazing, lending us a second camera, and generously giving us the benefit of their experience on the ground in the region. The VSA have supplied contacts and information. Ecoinnovation in New Plymouth and AA Solar here in Auckland have given us a good rate on solar panels, and Ecoinnovation has also given us the benefit of very informed advice on trickle charging batteries and other power-related issues.

Private individuals who have donated money include Thierry Jutel, Noeline Gannaway, Rowan Wernham, Donna Te Kanawa, artist Cellulite Rose and Vanessa Moon. Documentary filmmakers Susan Potter and Claudia Pond Eyley have offered us tape stock.

Some family members and friends of the crew have been particularly generous with their support and interest in the film, especially when it comes to developing the story or getting publicity. A special big thanks to Liz March (the director’s mother) who came up with a wonderful suggestion for the title of the film. She is lending one of her stills cameras for the trip and has made sure the crew have the appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements - what would we do without Mums! We would also like to mention Jane Gardiner’s enthusiasm for the story, and Anna Bates useful contacts in PNG.

The New Zealand Police stationed in Buka, Bougainville have been very welcoming via email and have offered a secure lockup for all the generously donated gear we’re taking, and we’ve even had advice on survival from a dude from New Zealand Defence Force.

I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child, but I reckon it takes the whole world to save a village. Thanks so much to everyone who’s contributed to the trip so far. Every single little bit makes a difference.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

DOP and funding found!

We're delighted to announce that Zane Holmes, producer and director on such luminastic NZ television shows as Maddigan’s Quest, Secret Agent Men, P.E.T Detectives and Being Eve has decided to bring his contacts, his technical expertise and his shoot-to-edit eye to Takuu in order to be our Director of Photography. The search has been pretty extensive and we're really happy to have a filmmaker as flexible and enthusiastic as Zane onboard.


We're equally delighted to announce that production company Robbers Dog has given us the NZ$8,000 that we needed to guarantee a safe shoot. Robbers Dog are also being very supportive in the nuts and bolts of managing the project, and in looking for sponsorship. They join Occasional Productions and the Screen Innovation Production Fund in helping us get the film in the can.

Enormous generosity has been shown to Takuu film, but we can always use more funding - every dollar will make a difference to what ends up on screen, and we still need decent camera and sound equipment, solar panels and a petrol generator, as well as miniDV stock, both used and blank. If you're wanting to contribute to the project please get in touch.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Seeking sponsorship and camera skills!

We need further funding and some additional skills to get this film in the can.

In December we're sending a two-person crew (consisting of Briar and a director of photography) to document the story of a sinking island in the Pacific.

Our DOP has had to pull out due to other committments and we're recruiting a replacement at the moment. If you're interested, email us using the link provided, or call Lyn on + 64 27 282 9593.

We've got much appreciated Screen Innovation Production funding (from a New Zealand government scheme) for the project. However the extreme remoteness of the island means a very challenging shoot and to do a good job we really need more resources than this grant can provide. We're looking for sponsorship in exchange for a screen credit and we'd be very happy to accept any donations of money or offers of equipment. Being able to borrow or be given:

a 3 chip mini-DV PAL video camera
extra and larger-size camera batteries and chargers
mini-DV stock (including old tapes that have already been used, for translation purposes)
solar panels (there's no electricity on the island)
a pc laptop or
a video deck

would be incredibly helpful, and any donations, big or small, would be extremely gratefully received.

For further information about the film check out our previous post and to find out more about the island of Takuu try the sidebar links on this page.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A short description to get you started

Our film is about a sinking island, Takuu, a polynesian outlier (250km Northeast of Bougainville) where the people still practice traditional polynesian religion and cosmology. We aim to document the particular challenges they face at the moment in a poetic, reflexive way. The film is being directed by Briar March (Allie Eagle and Me) produced by Lyn Collie and supervised by Annie Goldson.

Tectonic activity is combining with on-going climate change to put more pressure on the island than is being experienced in other parts of the pacific at the moment. It is sinking at a rate of 20cm/year. The elders are refusing to leave the island in the event that it sinks completely - and this is quickly becoming a possibility as king tides this year went right over the top of it. Rising sea-levels have knock-on effects for gardening which is becoming precarious. As the salt-water table rises, the taro rots in the ground, leaving people with just fish to eat.

Takuu's particular culture is changing. With missionaries and religious schooling for teenagers living off the island, the local religion is facing competition. This is the last place in the Pacific where traditional polynesian religion is practiced.

Unlike Tuvalu, also sinking, Takuu is part of PNG and the people on the island don't have the option of emigration to a stable Western country like New Zealand when the inevitable happens. They will most likely be relocated to Buka, part of Bougainville, which has a history of political instability and is also malarial. Richard Moyle, an anthropologist who has worked with the community for the last 14 years, is convinced a move to Bougainville will have a big impact of the health of the Takuu population, particularly the elders. And moving from their island will place even more pressure on the local religion which is fully integrated with Takuu's particular geography and night sky.