Samoan film-maker aims to inspire
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 news.co.nz to watch a video where Jordan Kwan explains the idea behind his first feature film.