What do Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey, Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Samuel L Jackson, James Mc Avoy, Donald Sutherland and a bunch of locals from Rarotonga in the South Pacific paradise of the Cook Islands have in common? They have all worked with renowned Hollywood movie producers the Stone Brothers.
Well not quite all, but, come March, brothers Webster and Robert Stone will mentor local filmmakers during the Film Raro Pacific Paradise Film Challenge.
The Challenge will see teams of professional filmmakers from all over the world journey to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands to work with locals to produce a variety of short films.
“It’s about empowering Cook Island filmmakers to tell their own professional digital stories by learning and then applying new skills,” says Robert Stone. “Films resulting from this Challenge, and films produced by Cook Islanders in its wake, may well seed a new industry in the island paradise.”
“What’s more,” adds brother, Webster, “Producing films here should definitely contribute to preserving the nation’s heritage, language, and culture. And nothing is better for tourism than making a great film and getting people to see it. This Film Challenge is a remarkable concept – attract industry professionals to make short films, thus offering Cook Islands’ film students a practical hands-on ‘seminar’ in how to actually produce a picture.”
The brothers were drawn to the Film Raro Challenge by the idea of making a mini-feature film on a beautiful south sea island with a community willing to help, participate and learn.
The Stones’ film is inspired by “The Offshore Pirate”, a short story by renowned American author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. “We’ve always wanted to make this film and Rarotonga seemed ideally suited as a setting,” says Robert.
“The film is about finding a place in the world to call your own,” says Webster. “When our heroine understands who she is, where she is from, and that she has ‘family’, her life finds the direction and completeness it had lacked. Part of the inspiration for the story certainly came from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but the greater part came from trying to think through what it must be like to come from the Cook Islands (or anywhere) and then leave for so long such that you’ve lost a part of your identity.” Robert adds, “The idea here is that home may not be where the heart is so much as where it belongs.”
Film Raro’s executive producer Stan Wolfgramm explains, “All entries were judged first on the quality of their scripts. Once the short-listed scripts were chosen, we then began assessing their attached film crews to determine their level of experience and capacity to deliver.”