Movie project will be taste of paradise

Film Raro UK team; Mark Bull, Tajinder Hayer, Scott Dulson
Film Raro UK team; Mark Bull, Tajinder Hayer, Scott Dulson

FOUR young Sheffield film-makers have landed a trip to shoot a film on a South Pacific tropical island.

Tajinder Hayer, Mark Bull, Scott Dulson and Darryl Peat have won a place in the inaugural Film Raro pacific paradise film challenge, a social and economic development project set up in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Along with eight other selected film crews from different parts of the world they fly out in May and have 12 days to make a short film ready for a public screening, under tropical stars, with the entire island invited, at the Film Raro International Film Festival. Team leader Tajinder Hayer said: “We’re all very excited. My mind is a pleasant tumble of ideas at the moment. It’s a real adventure.”

The four are recent graduates of Sheffield Hallam University and it was Mark Bull who spotted the online advert for the film challenge which invited submissions of scripts.

“I asked around whether anyone had a film idea on a tropical theme and Taj said he’d got this idea for an animation which he thought we could adapt,” he explained.

This became a silent live action piece called Islands which impressed the judging panel and they landed the invitation to the Cook Islands.

It’s about two people making a connection across the water separating two islands. A young woman is trapped on one side by a brutish protector and establishes a rapport with a man on the other island and eventually she tires to make a frantic (and bloody) escape to freedom and love.

According to writer-director Taj: “Islands is a story for all, it’s about self assertion. That might sound a bit wishy-washy, but, as I’ve gone for a fairytale-esque approach the audience is free to bring their own interpretations to it; it could be about escaping an abusive relationship, a child’s need to outgrow parents, the liberating power of love and creativity etc. However, I believe all these interpretations are linked by a need for self-determination.”

The Cook Islands venture is being supported by the British Council.

Its NZ director Ingrid Leary says, “Tajinder is an exciting British filmmaker that will bring a unique perspective to the Film Raro challenge. The opportunity for he and his colleagues Mark Bull, Scott Dulson and Darryl Peat to work in a place like the Cook Islands, with its rich heritage and stunning vistas, is sure to add to their depth as filmmakers. It will be equally exciting for other local and global filmmakers to interact with the UK team. Everyone involved with Film Raro is bound to emerge enriched and inspired.”

For the Cook Islands, the aims of the challenge are to give local filmmakers an opportunity to work alongside professional filmmakers from around the world along with boosting tourism exposure, creating a new industry, preserving the language and culture and the branding of the Cook Islands as a film-friendly tropical paradise. The one snag from the Sheffield perspective was that the group work as a collective of five and each film crew has a maximum of four members which means that Joe Toms-Ashcroft is having to miss out.

“We bring different skills,” said Mark, “Taj is writer-director, Scott’s the cameraman, Darryl is sound recordist and I’m editor and assistant director. Joe is also a writer-director and I think he appreciates that this is Taj’s project.”

It might be scant consolation but a film the group made under Tom’s direction, Hula Girl, was shown as part of the London Short Film Festival this month.