Samoan film-maker aims to in­spire

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

First-time film di­rec­tor Jor­dan Kwan wants to cre­ate char­ac­ters which Samoan peo­ple can re­late to and are in­spired by.

The CBD res­i­dent de­cided ear­lier this year he would pro­duce a fea­ture film by De­cem­ber, de­spite not hav­ing any for­mal train­ing in film-mak­ing.

He is an am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher who has earned a liv­ing tak­ing pho­tos for wed­dings and events for the past three years.

The tran­si­tion to video was a nat­u­ral one, he says. He’s had a bit of prac­tice mak­ing TV com­mer­cials, on­line videos and a short film.

The fea­ture film is a love story set in a law firm. The pro­tag­o­nists are work­ing on a case where a man is wrong­fully im­pris­oned for 18 years. As they try to seek jus­tice for the man, the char­ac­ters also dis­cover a few things about them­selves.

The screen­play for the film Liliu Le Taimi: A Mod­ern Samoan Love Story took a lit­tle over a month to write and the crew of 12 have shot and edited about 40 min­utes of us­able footage.

It hasn’t been all plain sail­ing. The first week­end was an ab­so­lute night­mare, Kwan says.

‘‘Our sched­ule was very un­fo­cused. For ex­am­ple, we didn’t al­low enough time in be­tween shoots to set up and break down the gear and we didn’t think about what time of day it would be when we were shoot­ing scenes.’’

Since then things have been look­ing up and Kwan is us­ing the crowd­fund­ing web­site Spark My Po­ten­tial to try to raise the $10,000 he needs to com­plete the film.

The 25-year-old was born in Auck­land but moved to Samoa when he was 4 and re­turned to New Zealand when he was 18. Work­ing as a cleaner when he first ar­rived was an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, he says.

‘‘I wasn’t very fa­mil­iar with how things worked here since I’d grown up in Samoa. It was a bit heart­break­ing see­ing how many Maori and Pa­cific peo­ple are work­ing in low-paid jobs.

‘‘There’s noth­ing wrong with an hon­est day’s work but I’d like to see more of my peo­ple with high-achiev­ing knowl­edge-based vo­ca­tions.

‘‘I think far too of­ten in Samoan movies the roles re­flect the re­al­ity of be­ing poor but I want to ac­tu­ally in­spire peo­ple. I want to have three-di­men­sional char­ac­ters with pro­fes­sional jobs.’’

The char­ac­ters in the film speak a mix of Samoan and English, Kwan says.

‘‘It re­flects the re­al­ity of our gen­er­a­tion be­cause we tend to speak in and out of Samoan. It’s gen­uine and nat­u­ral.’’

The film is also a cri­tique of how pa­tri­ar­chal Samoan cul­ture is, he says.

‘‘I’m try­ing to hold up a mir­ror to show how we treat women in Samoa. Ac­cord­ing to our tra­di­tions we re­spect women but I some­times feel they aren’t treated very well.

‘‘In some small way I’m try­ing to con­trib­ute to­wards film roles that Samoans can see them­selves rep­re­sented in and at the same time try to bring about so­cial change.’’


Chal­leng­ing stereo­types: Film di­rec­tor Jor­dan Kwan hopes to present in­spir­ing char­ac­ters in his first fea­ture

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour to watch a video where Jor­dan Kwan ex­plains the idea be­hind his first fea­ture film.

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