The statement below is an extract from the PIFT Annual Report 2016 – 2017 from outgoing Chair Sima Urale, delivered to the Annual General Meeting at Auckland Art Gallery on Saturday 18th November 2017.
It has been my pleasure to be part of the PIFT Board and act as chair albeit for a short period of time, and I only wish I was in better health with less work commitments. Although I have stepped down as Chair my commitment to the advancement of Pacific people in the screen arts remains true and unwavering.
It has been a pleasure to see collaborations and our Pacific presence at all levels of the industry grow, as well as connect with so many talented practitioners.
I believe PIFT is an essential vehicle to help us on the way, an opportunity to network and stay informed about all industry matters and projects. PIFT is a collective that has the potential to grow into whatever it’s members want it to be, a board cannot exist without it’s members and it is important for us all to play our part.
Thanks to the Executuve Director, last year PIFT brought together some of our most noted practitioners to meet and give story feedback to some of our new writers, they were commercials and film director Miki Magasiva, director Damon Fepulea’i, writer and actor Oscar Kightly, award winning filmmaker Tusi Tamasese, as well as myself.
I was not on the board then, but it was evident to me that opportunities like this are rare indeed. These days, those of us with the most experience in the industry, are often too busy and are rarely seen in the one place.
This is a great example of where PIFT can be helpful, bringing together knowledge and experience, the chance to evolve mentorship programs, potential for masterclasses, and much more. There is still some ways to go in formulating how a Pasifika approach might work in action and design frameworks that can best support our people, but this is what makes PIFT so exciting right now – it’s members and the board can re-design and adapt it’s future role within the industry.
Throughout the years I have been a guest speaker for various guilds and groups from Actor’s Equity, Ngā Aho Whakaari, NZFC, Script to Screen, as well as PIFT. The one thing I think we could all improve on is the opportunity for more in-depth and substantial sharing of knowledge and technique through masterclasses, which are workshops with real ‘substance’ rather than the all too superficial introductory talks which can be gleaned from anywhere on the internet.
What is not so easily accessed or available is our individual ‘voice’ on storytelling, the intimate details of a filmmaker’s process, or the collaborative process and group dynamics, specific techniques when working with actors or other creative crewing roles, the art of cinematography and other technical skills, knowledge of special FX and the power of sound, as well as the struggles and innovative ways that films have been made; for example – the producers of ‘WARU’ and their kaupapa behind storytelling and supporting Māori women film makers.
Too often, the focus has been on the end product rather than the ‘process’ of making a film. Focusing on the ‘craft’ of television and film are what our new members need to know, as well as catering to our experienced members that require more insight into certain areas. I believe providing and sharing a deeper understanding and knowledge base about the entire process of making a film, no matter what format or genre, is key.
It’s an incredibly exciting time because while we need to retain those base fundamentals of storytelling from film and television we are also grappling with online and interactive platforms making more and more of an impact. With further development these platforms are only going to become more apart of our everyday lives.
We know some of our biggest box office hits in Aotearoa and abroad are Māori and Pacific stories, and yet it feels we have barely scratched the surface. We know we have so many more stories to tell, and many more incredibly talented people yet to come.
Whether we are making stories for the web, television, AR/VR immersive environments, gaming consoles or cinema – Pacific and Māori talent in screen arts are making their mark. In time, our numbers will grow, and why I believe PIFT will become an important player as mediator and advocate on behalf of Pacific moving image practitioners, an organisation that can play a central role in bringing the needs and ideas of Pacific people to the forefront.