Film Update

A six month plan

It’s been a while since the last update and there’s a lot to get caught up on.


Why we disappeared

If you’ve been paying attention to the blog or our social accounts, you already know that we kinda went dark for a few months. Originally, this happened because my car died a death worthy of such a faithful steed — smoking on the side of the freeway as we drove to PIFA San Diego. As soon as PIFA was over, every available free moment (AKA the time I was spending working on the film) was diverted to finding a new car and figuring out how to pay for it. By the time my transportation problem was settled (it took about a month), forward progress on Spirit of Tivaevae had come to a halt. Getting things rolling again was like sitting on a swing, the hardest part kicking enough to get yourself into the air. We’ve been working behind the scenes, and it looks like the swing is finally beginning to catch some momentum.

That’s the answer to where we’ve been. Now let’s have a look at where we’re going. After all, that’s the fun part!

What you can expect going forward

This is my first feature film, and as such, I want to maintain a certain level of transparency that isn’t typical for a project like this. I’ve had the benefit of learning a TON from other people who were generous in sharing their experiences both online and offline. I hope that the trials we encounter on this journey will serve to educate and inspire more people (particularly Pacific Islanders) to start telling stories about their history and culture.

I also understand that a movie like ours will not be made without help from our community. A feature film is a huge undertaking. In return for your support, I think it’s fair and useful for us to be open about our process. Technology and the internet continues to change the game for indie creators. The fact that the community can share in the filmmaking process as we walk through it is pretty amazing.

Goals and timeline

The primary goal is to premiere Spirit of Tivaevae some time in 2015. Next year the Cook Islands celebrates the 50th anniversary of self-governance. Premiering the film during a special year of celebration for the Cook Islands is one way that we are paying tribute to the people and culture that have given us the rich stories and art we’re documenting.

To meet this goal, we need to complete all of the overseas interviews and shooting by the end of this year, preferably in the last quarter so we have some time to fundraise. With that in mind, here’s the game plan for the next 6 months:

March & April

  • Finish setting up our business and fundraising structures (bank accounts, fiscal sponsor, etc.)
  • Produce a new trailer (our storyline has been slightly altered, this new trailer would reflect the changes we’ve made)
  • Prep materials and presentations for fundraising
  • Revise the current budget

May & June

  • Hit the fundraising trail hard!
  • Spread the word by attending as many SoCal festivals and ho’olaule’a’s as possible

July & August

  • More fundraising!
  • Perhaps a crowd funding campaign?
  • Shoot prep for a possible September trip?

Challenges we face

Our biggest challenge is the size of our crew, which currently has only 3 regularly contributing team members. Between shooting and editing a new trailer, attending festivals, preparing our fundraising materials, revising the budget and proposal, updating the website and social media…well, it’s a lot of work for a such a small team to balance with other full time work, family, and personal commitments. However, we continue to work diligently while looking for additional people to add to the team.

Of course, there’s always the challenge of money. It always comes back to money, doesn’t it? As artists we create and tell stories because it is part of who we are. Unfortunately, making things costs money. This is certainly true in the case of our film. We are keeping the budget as tight as possible, but there are things we can’t do (like set firm shoot dates and buy plane tickets) until we have money. Everyone who has contributed to the project thus far has done so on a volunteer basis. It’s incredibly humbling to have people donate their valuable time.

Is our plan and timeline ambitious and a little crazy? Maybe. We believe in the value of sharing the stories of tivaevae with the world. We’re all in.

How you can help

If you haven’t yet, you can sign up for our newsletter. That’s the best way to stay in-the-know because we deliver news to you, versus you remembering to visit the site or seeing something via social media.

We will be asking you to help out in various ways during the coming months (for example, sharing the new trailer once it goes online). It’s early in the game and the most interesting parts of filmmaking aren’t happening yet, please know that I appreciate each of you being here, now.

If you have questions or just want to chat, please reach out in the comments, via email, or on any of our social accounts.

Meitaki maata!

Melodie is the director and producer of Spirit of Tivaevae. Born in New Zealand to a Cook Islander father and American mother, Melodie was raised in the United States. Her family background gives her a unique perspective on being a Pacific Islander raised outside the culture.