Music tells story
BEING asked to create the soundtrack for a film about a convicted murderer was too big an opportunity for one high school musician to pass up.
Tihema Bennett leapt at the chance when his dad approached him about writing the music for a documentary he was directing.
‘‘He thought it might be quite cool for his son to do the music and I was really keen,’’ the 17-year-old says.
The documentary titled The Confessions of Prisoner T will premiere on Maori Television on Sunday.
It delves into the story of Teina Pora who has spent two decades in Paremoremo prison for a crime that many people, including senior police officers, believe he didn’t commit.
The Mongrel Mob associate was arrested in 1994 for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in her Papatoetoe home two years earlier.
The documentary hears from key people – Mr Pora, his family, lawyers, expert witnesses and the victim’s family. It also follows the last-ditch appeal to the governor-general to have the case set aside.
Tihema says meeting Mr Pora during a rare home visit and subsequent phone conversations helped inspire his compositions.
‘‘I’ve met Teina and I knew the story really well, so I was working off that and what I imagined 20 years of being in prison was like,’’ the Western Springs College student says.
Mr Pora still maintains his innocence and made his 11th appearance in front of the parole board in April.
It decided he would stay in prison for at least another six months.
Mr Pora was around the same age as Tihema when he was imprisoned.
‘‘The idea of someone my age being in prison for so long is unreal,’’ Tihema says.
During their first meeting the two men quickly found common ground – Mr Pora plays in a band in prison.
‘‘He was telling me that he is really into guitar and the blues and music was a huge part of keeping his brain active during his years in prison,’’ Tihema says.
‘‘Finding out that he was interested in music made my job a bit more special.’’
The teen has composed a gritty, distorted soundtrack to reflect the anger and sadness surrounding the story.
‘‘There are two major musical themes in the film – there is the softer reflective music which has lots of clean guitar and piano. But a big chunk of the film is the heavier distorted guitar.’’
The Grey Lynn resident started playing the piano at age 5. He has now mastered guitar, ukulele, sax and bass.
Creating the score for The Confessions of Prisoner T is the first time he has composed music for a film.
In September Tihema will be attending a music school in Venezuela as part of an exchange programme to work with kids living in poverty and help them through music.
He hopes the documentary will act as a springboard for a future career in the film industry.
‘‘The ideal would be a director/composer and making indie short films and the music for them. I’d love to do that for a living.’’
Talented: Western Springs College student Tihema Bennett has written the soundtrack to a documentary about convicted murderer Teina Pora. Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see a a clip from The Confessions of Prisoner T.