Film-maker keeps Pacific flame alive
DAILY GRIND Craig Fasi entered the film industry more than 13 years ago after honing his craft at the Manukau Institute of Technology. He started the Pollywood Film Festival soon after. The Hillsborough man tells Jess Etheridge why the film industry needs
Giving Pacific Islanders a voice is what drives Craig Fasi.
After stepping out of the Manukau Institute of Technology more than 13 years ago, the Hillsborough resident discovered the ‘‘real lack’’ of Pasifika contribution to the film industry.
The ‘‘shoe-string’’ budget culture in the industry means many cannot justify a fulltime film job.
‘‘Anytime anything is made it’s on the bare bones of family, friends, favours and there’s always got to be a nine-to-five job in there somewhere to keep the bills paid and the power on,’’ the 36-year-old says.
‘‘If you can get into the mainstream even then it’s quite fickle because it’s contract work, months at a time. You’ll be lucky to have it ongoing. It’s all very higgledypiggledy but at the same time we need to take that on the chin and make sure we tell our stories the way they should be told.’’
Fasi says Pasifika stories are often portrayed through an outsider’s lens.
He began to search for a way to give more exposure to the work of Pasifika film-makers.
Fasi organised a Pacific Island short film night and from it the Pollywood Film Festival was born.
‘‘The interest was quite huge,’’ Fasi says. ‘‘It was quite a good way to find out the interest there was in the community.’’
‘‘Pollywood is a way for your grassroots, right up to your established practitioners to put their work out together and hopefully collaborate.’’
He took up a job in promoting film and began pushing for Pacific Islanders to get their stories out there.
But it’s run on love – Pollywood has no major financial backer and he does it in his spare time.
‘‘I’ve come through quite a lot in my life, in terms of deaths, in terms of really hard-hitting life instances and I’ve found Pollywood has been quite a staple,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s kept me level. Aside from having kids now, Pollywood has always been something that I can have a creative outlet with and I still get to be involved in the creative scene . . . and I’ve still got a nine-to-five as well to pay the bills.
‘‘I can have my creative outlet through Pollywood and I get to see the new work and be a part of the mainstream Pacific Island circle of creativity.’’
The industry is still so new, Fasi says.
‘‘For as long as it’s been around we are still scratching the surface in telling our stories and I think there’s a very long way to go.’’
Documentaries, dramas, experimental films and comedies have been part of Pollywood, which is still evolving.
‘‘It’s just trying to get everything together and keeping that flame alive for other Pacific Islanders who see visual tools to be a great medium for sharing messages, telling stories and that’s what I think is the basis of film – telling stories.’’
Pasifika passion: Craig Fasi has organised film festival Pollywood for more than 13 years.