The #PIFT Executive loves being able to help our up-and-coming screen-creative practitioners get ahead and or experience something which will add to their knowledge, skill, connection to others and pathways to success – and inspire. Supporting Pasefika practitioners attend the ‘Big Screen Symposium’ has become an annual thing for #PIFT, which we hope we may be able to continue. The Big Screen Symposium is the annual get-together of filmmakers in #Aotearoa to discuss, debate, get informed and inspire about things film and screen indy – run by Script to Screen.

The theme of the weekend symposium this year was “Authenticity and Pretence”, ideal to think about ‘cultural authenticity’, which for many diaspora kanaka Pasefika and those in the Central isles may be a concern when dealing with production purporting to represent the various and diverse people and cultures of Oceania, the Pacific, te Moana Nui.

So, what is ‘cultural authenticity’ as it pertains to screen arts?

Put simply (besides deeper philosophies) it is having ‘come from’ forms of expression, which are truthful to and of the cultures they represent. The matter of truth is a whole ‘nother discussion But in terms of practical doing things – – – –

#PIFT applauds productions including authentic cultural aspects such as – material items (props, set and wardrobe), references (in premise, script, onscreen presentations, dialogue or marketing collateral) and representation (character, set and location portrayals); but urge these productions to:

– Use ‘Cultural Advisors’ in pre-prod, prod and post-prod including marketing and distribution

Use ‘Cultural Advisors’ and where possible incorporate people from those ‘actual cultures’ to inform, design, construct, front and complete the productions. This means incorporation from the very first stages of a project right through to completion – pre-prod, prod and post-prod including marketing and distribution. It also means inclusion of culturally sensitive personnel throughout the production.

– Acknowledge non-Western cultural complex knowledge and ability as ‘cultural capital’ with intellectual property rights

Do we need to say more? …

– Make the sense of ownership real – share it

We would also advocate for ‘ownership’ – those who contribute as above, especially in a major giving, should be entitled to a return on their investment of skills, knowledge – and themselves – and, with their sense of ownership there is an actual portion of ownership shared.

Apart from these point-outs, when in ‘a making process’ where it is not possible to access these cultural aficionados, one must try as far as possible to research and reference with up-most integrity the subject matter in which they are representing.

Check out #TheBrownBook for reference to particular considerations when working with Māori in the screen industry.


This year #PIFT, with the kind support of Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga #NZFC, sponsored 10 people and helped a few others attend the #BSS weekend.

Pictured in the Photo above (LTR):  Jamie Greenslade (production on-sider), ‘Nua finau (production/director/producer), Jason Taouma (auteur), Samson [Rambo] Vaotu’ua (director), Jaimee Poipoi (producer/director/Art D), Karen Williams (NZFC), Miliama Setefano (editor/PIFT Board), Paul Fagamalo (NZFC), Hans Masoe (actor), Petrina Togi-Sa’ena (producer), Sandra Kailahi (producer), FR: Ngaire Fuata (producer), Jade Haitoua (Cam-op/DOP/production), Aaron Taouma (PIFT Exec.)

Other PIFT members missing from this photo who also attended are: Louisa Tipene Opetaia (producer/marketing/PIFT Board), Arnette Arapai (Big-City Rebel Writer), Amberley Jo Aumua (director), Maria Vai (director), Kerry Warkia (producer), Simone Fagalogo-Skelton (DOP/production), Josh Teariki-Baker (writer/production), Ian Leaupepe (production), Helmut Marko (director), Chantelle Burgoyne (director/writer/editor), Mario Faumui (producer/director), David F. Mamea (writer), Lanita Ririnui-Ryan (director/producer), Tusi Tamasese (symposium presenter / master-craft director), Lisa Taouma (Queen-B Producer)

‘Till the next time #Fetu Trekkers


Here’s some of the feedback [in-full] from our scholarship attendees who attended:

Networking ~
Like most events I gravitated towards the people i knew first, re-connecting and catching up in general. As the event progressed I strengthened these conversations with colleagues I hadn’t seen for some time, expanding on what I had been up to and sharing food, war stories and common ground. This seemed to be a common theme throughout the two days carrying that same formula on to complete strangers. I found it easy to connect during eating times over a coffee and having these two essential elements in the centre of the lectures was a great move by the organisers. One of the best conversations I had at the event was while I was having a cigarette outside with Tainui Stevens. The conversation ranged from life in general to opinions on recent films and underlined my overall opinion that the BSS had a kindred purpose and spirit ; film. I felt the passion for film flowing everywhere which gave me a feeling of belonging, a feeling that can seem foreign at times when dealing with the highs and lows that being in the industry entails. Overall, I seemed to find connection with filmmakers in similar positions as me as well as producers and crew that I had previously worked with.
I received one offer of work on a funded upcoming short film, as a gaffer, and swapped contacts with a Producer from down the line who wanted to connect in regards to indigenous stories. ( docos )
Lectures ~
Two people stuck out the most for me over the two days. Peter Broderick and Miriama Mcdowell. Peter had a very simple overall statement within his dialogue that resonated deeply with me and would be the main message I would carry away with me from the BSS ; “There has never been a better time than right now, for independent  film makers”.  Peter would speak twice at the BSS re-enforcing this statement the more he spoke. I needed to hear his words as they strengthened my walk as a filmmaker.
Miriama’s lecture opened up a whole new area of thinking for me in regards to actors and what they are going through on set. She shared very heartfelt insight into what it was like to work on WARU a film i recently crewed on. Being a mainly doco filmmaker it was new territory for me hearing Miriama give behind the scenes thoughts  , process examples and 1st hand lengthy film experience into being an actor. What stuck out the most  was her real life example of the process involved in WARU of rehearsing the same amount of time as shooting.
 In summary,  I felt Miriama was promoting that  the smalll things seem to lead to an overall better picture in film.
I also realised during lecture attendance that the current NZ films being mentioned , I had either worked on or had recently seen.
Positive, nurturing, environment for all concerned, extremely grateful to have been a part of this years Big Screen Symposium.
Thank You,
Jade Haitoua

The event was action packed and full of knowledge. To be surrounded by fellow industry professionals, writers, actors, directors, editors, the works, it was awesome to see that so many experienced people were there to learn and grow as well. The theme “Authenticity and pretense” was interpreted in so many different ways through different seminars that is was encouraging to know that there wasn’t just one way of doing things, there weren’t any rules. The event encouraged shorts film, independent films, self funded films, and the act of ‘just do it’ . The industry is changing and evolving and independent filmmakers/freelancers have more options to succeed then they did in the past. It was an awesome and validating experience and I look forward to next year.

Thank you again Aaron,


Thank you to PIFT for the opportunity to attend this years 2017 BSS at Auckland University.
I am grateful for the sponsorship for the 2 day pass and found that the networking and series of lectures extremely gratifying and creatively inspiring for my soul. I have nothing but praise for the organisers and thank goodness we have Esther at the helm!
However, I did find the American Producer’s talk a bit meh. I mean I can only remember her court cases and of course she won when someone reneged on their contract and how her company took them to the cleaners!
Also Tusi Tamasese’s talk was more about colouring and grading of this film rather then the process of writing the script which I would have liked if he talked more about the creative writing side but it’s Tusi so best be forgotten cos that’s right he hates public speaking so my bad! Maybe when he said “It’s not a Samoan film it’s a human film” I gave-up and started rummaged around for a lollipop in my bag to suck on for the rest of the session.
However, the other speakers were a God-send and bless them for recounting their journeys and creative work practices to date. Neil Cross, So Yong Kim,  Luke Davies and David Michod and especially the speakers on Sunday morning at the Key note address on Authenticity and Pretence session [Michael BennettMiriama McDowellJessica Hansell and Todd Karehana].
Lunch and morning and afternoon teas always warm the cockles of any island girl’s heart and stomach and the drinks on Saturday, well that was also a highlight of the symposium. Nothing beats getting tanked and talking creative smack with someone you’ve just met for the first time!
So just like a Girl Guide’s Jamboree us creatives in film and tv have our own to look forward to every year so yes loved the time spent and wouldn’t hesitate to attend again sponsored or unsponsored.
Arnette Arapai
Firstly, thank you again for the opportunity to attend the Big Screen Symposium.  I really appreciated being able to attend with PIFT and I enjoyed every session I attended.  I gained a lot of information and insight to the industry.  The whole symposium was well organised and there was a great vibe for the weekend.  It was nice to see the range of people that attended and it seemed like a great community, with people who all knew eachother or were reconnecting over the two days.
Overall, the information was often quite big picture stuff, motivational and sharing of experiences – rather than actual, practical information that you could go away and utilise.  I think all the speakers were all very open to sharing their stories and projects – as well as being open to giving advice to the audience.  It is always good to hear from others about their work experiences and journey.  The theme was interesting…..and I think the message of authenticity is particularly important to everyone’s work.
The most practical session was Peter Broderick, about Distribution.  I also particularly enjoyed the case study session for One Thousand Ropes and the keynote address with Miriama McDowell, Jessica Hansell, Todd Karehana and Michael Bennett .  Jess Hansell’s presentation was excellent and had so many things within it that I could relate to.
I thought it was mentioned a few times – that people had tried things they hadn’t done before, whether it was directing, or even film making as a whole – and the project they did ended up being successful.  So this was very encouraging to the audience and especially for those wanting to try something new.  Another common theme, was the speakers confirming how they were able to make the work they truly wanted to make – which was also great to hear.
As this is a new area for me, this was a great opportunity to observe, listen and learn – which is what I did.  As well as take lots of notes!
Thank you so much.
Talk more soon,

Jason Taouma’s feed back for the Big Screen Symposium 2017

Hi, I would like to thank PIFT and the team for allowing me to attend the BIG SCREEN SYMPOSIUM this year. As an up-coming-director and creative in the form of a Pacific Island Science fiction web series TIKI-X823, there are many discussion points that were on the table for me and which the Big Screen symposium was an essential part in helping to answer. The theme itself drew me to the program this year, authenticity and pretence. Factors that certainly apply in so many ways in regards to the types of images I am trying to create, that is to say putting Pacific Islanders and culture in situations that are unfamiliar to the ‘type’ cast associations we have of ourselves and by others. My conundrum is how to represent this image as best I can, in the way that I want and to do it in a way that represents both my big idea and the community/culture it draws on. So I was very much interested in the ideas behind the authenticity and pretence theme.

The first talk which was given at the Powhiri in particular Tainui Stephen’s talk on the nature of authenticity and pretence, but the real theme I felt was the inclusion of language. Always the most important thing actually in any cultural dialogue, for without which the thing itself is lost, if there are no words to describe or express it. My works will be in native Pacific language and I am more adamant than ever that this will be so.

High-lights for me as a writer, were of course Luke Davies and Neil Cross both of whom gave some very important tips about how to get across ideas and thoughts in the ‘craft’ of writing, discovering their different processes or at least their take on the nature of ‘telling the story’ was extremely helpful as I am currently writing some personal material which required some ‘process’ and extension in order for me to progress. I intend to fully apply some of their techniques. In particular, it was also interesting hearing about their different struggles in-regards to the profession of writing for Hollywood. ‘Lion’, if anything, is the sort of film that I am most interested in hearing about as it pertains to my own creative senses.

If anything, the most important speaker from abroad for me was the Korean-Canadian director So Yong Kim and her outstanding art films. Looking at the in-depth, almost documentive and quietly painted, style of film-making really stood out for me. It is this sort of film-making in particular that I find myself drawn too, and her discussion on how she went about creating these performances and images were really thought provoking and I liked what she said about working with actors and children.

Finally, the highlight for me was the native speakers, in particular the keynote speakers on ‘authenticity and pretence’ for the Sunday morning session with Michael Bennett, Miriama Mcdowell, Jessica Hansell and Todd Karehana. Micheal Bennett’s short and his very touching story about a child’s relationship with his deceased brother really struck a cord with me and inspired my own story and creative struggle. I approached him briefly and just talking him was a good connection. The other speaker was Coco-Solid, guised as Jessica Hansell, if anything her robust revolutionary reactionary comments were perhaps the most thought provoking and inspiring of the entire symposium for me, obviously since my own creative work is in itself a ‘reactionary dialogue’ and which I drew a lot of similarity in her grass roots urban approach. What this means is that she had a political stance that drew on the community and culture of her ‘roots’ which I appreciated and hoped also to express. I talked and connected to her after and we took a picture together with me and my space helmet. So I fully intend to meet up with these awesome film makers again.

Mainly, the highlight of the symposium was all the networking involved, I reconnected with a few old faces which was really good and also met a lot of new faces as well. It would be nice to have all the details of the participants from #PIFT in one sort of ‘group’ for a bit so as to keep in contact and also too maybe meet up again informally. I felt that we needed more kind of dialogue with the other groups in the symposium. It was hard to get a handle on who was who sometimes and people were in their own cliques so would have been good to have more facilitation from the Script to Screen group to in some way inspire conversation (for the BIG SCREEN SYMPOSIUM), maybe more ‘statement’ in the little neck card about each person. Or was it there? I did not notice.

I really love Tusi Tamasese’s stuff but felt he could have been more forward in explanation of his work. Mainly it was the three other ladies and the tech guy talking. It’s his style, yes, and he plays to the audience but I didn’t get much out of him. Maybe he’s rather inviting you to make-up your own interpretation. ???

Some of the symposium might seem boring but really it’s the required energy in which to keep your attention going, so you bring into it as much as you take away. It was good we all met up at the beginning and we were sort of in the same group during lunch, I don’t think we had to sit together but it was nice hearing from the other participants about different lectures that you hadn’t attended. So we fed off each other which was good. They needed more chocolate at the event.

The venue was good but sometimes it was cold in the lecture theaters so a warning on adequate clothing next time???

Hope this was helpful.

Jason Taouma


BIG SCREEN SYMPOSIUM – PIFT Sponsorship: Jaimee Poipoi

This year the theme for The Big Screen Symposium was ‘Authenticity and Pretence’. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from that theme, but after seeing the list of speakers that were to attend I got really excited.

I have a background in Production and wanted to focus on a few key speakers that I could really learn and develop from.

Here were a couple of the sessions that I found really beneficial:

B. Panel: What makes a great TV co-production?

One of the speakers on this panel was Kylie du Fresne from Goalpost Pictures who created ‘Cleverman’. I was really interested in the process of how this came co-production with Pukeko Pictures in NZ came about and loved that Pukeko Pictures aligned with them because of the cultural aspects of the show. They felt they understood and respected the process of making a show where the indigenous culture is a major part of the narrative.

My long term goal is in television and learning from this panel how a co-production process works was also very fascinating.

B. Distribution with Peter Broderick

This was another session that as a Producer I was really interested in attending. Peter discussed distribution and marketing that focused on Independent films rather than Big Hollywood projects which I really enjoyed. I loved that he discussed old models of distribution and compared with new models of distribution. 

Close-Up with Carthew Neal

This was probably one of the best parts of BSS for me as an up and coming Producer. I was fortunate to be in a Close Up Session with Carthew Neal who is a Producer at Piki Pictures and also a Producer for Taika Waititi’s projects. This was an intimate session with about 12 people and I was able to meet a lot of people and ask a lot of questions. I also made some great connections in this session with Wellington Producers. As I’m fairly new to Wellington this was great for me to expand my network. I am currently meeting with 2 Producers from this session for a Co-Production project we may work on together.


As well as being a lot of fun, the social drinks was fantastic that I got to reconnect with old friends and meet a lot of new filmmakers.

I was able to meet up with a couple of the PIFT sponsored people and chat about our films, dreams, goals for the future. The girls I met were Amberley Jo Aumua and Anevili Tupuola Taualai. We had a lot in common and I’m really excited to see where they go on their filmmaking journey.

I also met Tusi Tamasese who’s work I admire. We discussed his interest in animation and Polynesian people who work on animated projects. I mentioned that I’m currently working on an Animated childrens series at Pukeko Pictures with another Polynesian filmmaker and he was interested in what Pukeko Pictures does which is great. Hopefully he’ll do an animated feature next?!?!

On the last night I spent a lot of time with Robin Murphy. I’m a fan of her latest webseries ‘Potluck’ and we’re looking to meet up again in Wellington and see if we can work together on future projects.

I was also able to catch up with Kevin ‘KJ’ Jennings who is from Film Otago Southland. I’m from Southland so it was great to catch up with him and discuss future projects. I’m definitely interested in going back to the South and working with the Film School down there to develop more projects.


There were so many workshop sessions and conversations that I enjoyed. I left the weekend inspired and absolutely buzzing to collaborate further with people I had met on more film projects.

I am very thankful to PIFT for sponsoring me to attend the Big Screen Symposium and am looking forward what films and collaborations will develop from this amazing opportunity.

Thank you,

Jaimee Poipoi