Towards the end of last week, John Herd (primaveranz) posted this pic on Facebook. It’s two of the young people at Wan Smolbag Theatre in Vanuatu, one of the poorest countries in the world, working on a movie called “Gel blong mi i mas skul”. My Bislama‘s not exactly fluent, but I think it means something about my girlfriend has to go to school, and is probably a piece designed to promote women’s education. On the left, Rebecca’s working on the opening scene, and on the right, Robin’s building the set for scene 2.
We’re really proud to be associated with these guys. It’s amazing to see what they do, and the way they’ve really thrown themselves into technology like Moviestorm, despite being in such a remote location - or perhaps because of it.
And here’s another inspiring shot from John: Francis Wai in his new job as trainee cameraman and video editor. He got his break after joining the Moviestorm club and displaying a talent for animation and post-production editing. He was then picked to help out with the “Logging” on local show Love Patrol 4.
It is the first ever locally-produced television series in Vanuatu. Produced by Wan Smolbag Theatre with financial assistance from AusAID, NZAID and the Asian Development Bank, it is a soap opera with a serious message, intended primarily to educate viewers on the topic of AIDS. It also tackles “youth unemployment, police brutality and the hypocrisy of keeping youth uninformed about sex”. UNAIDS reported that it explores “the growing issues of high rates of STIs among young people, high teenage pregnancy, lack of discourse on sex and risk taking behaviours in [...] Pacific communities”. It has been described as an “edutainment” series.
A review in the Fiji Times explained that the series “centres on the life of a detective who works in a police station in an urban centre somewhere in the Pacific. The detective, named Mark, desperately wants his wife to have a child but gets caught up with Rita, a singer in a bar. The series also involves a gang of boys who steal from a minister’s house and the search for the boys exposes the other side of paradise. The mini-series aims to look at the causes for the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.”
Stories like this really bring a smile to my face. We always said that we wanted Moviestorm to be a way that people could get their break into industry by allowing them to develop skills and show what they could do. And people like Francis are the proof that it really can be so, even on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific. We wish him all the best in his new career.
In closing, here’s an ad they made for the Youth Centre. It was shown on television over there, and we hear that it’s been motivating people to go along. It’s nice to think that in some small way, what we’re doing is helping to make a difference to people on the other side of the world, and it’s truly heartening to see what people like this can do, given the tools, the talent, and the determination, regardless of their circumstances.
John’s shortly leaving Vanuatu, but we hope his legacy will continue long after his departure.
Thanks to John for the photos in this article.