If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about film making, it’s that it can be extremely demanding yet amazingly satisfying. The overwhelming experience of beginning and building your story is incredibly intense, even a strong woman can cry.
I arrived in Goroka on Monday afternoon, both excited and nervous as hell. I had never worked on a filming project of my own and was experiencing a high level of uncertainty. Thankfully, I had Kerry Warkia and her wonderful team from Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions to assist me along the way. Shooting locations and castings had to be confirmed before the filming, I wondered if I had the ‘eye’ to choose the right places and actors.
We arrived at the first location; the scenery was breath taking. The rugged mountains of the highlands stood out as a backdrop. This would be fitting for one of the scenes, however something was missing. The next day, I followed our local guide Priscilla to her village Nagamiufa where we would be casting. One look at the village and I felt an instant attraction, “Yes, this feels like it”. The setup of the village all seemed to be in the right place. When we began casting a volley ball tournament was being held, so not many youths were in the village. However, the few who were present were asked if they would be willing to participate. I was impressed with the role play, the talent was raw and natural. With all that organised, we were set.
On the first day of filming I swear I could feel the anxiety trying to choke me. We went through the script and agreed on where to start. Kiel McNaughton of BSAG turned to me and said “take the actors through the scene”, that’s when I realised I was going to be directing the film. As we progressed I got to understand what was involved in making a film. I was amazed at the number of shots we took from different angles for one scene. I never thought it would be more than twenty shots, and this was a short. Imagine what it would be like in a feature!
My night scene proved to be the most challenging. The female lead was losing her lines; people were getting exhausted. I started blaming myself for coming up with the smart idea of having a night scene. I was pretty upset afterwards. Back in the hotel room, I asked Briar her opinion. She responded saying she thought I did a fantastic job and assured me that it was completely normal for me to experience what I was feeling. It was always the case for any first time film. Her words of encouragement lifted my spirits.
When we reached the last day of filming I reflected on my epic journey. Never had I undergone so many emotions at one point in my life, but as they say, all good things must come to an end. As I had written down in my journal after the final shoot: ‘recalling my “IT’S A WRAP” moment leaves me in an emotional seizure. I stopped crying many years back, but today, I am not able to stop the waterfall of tears. I have literally experienced my dream come true!’ This in itself was a story like no other.
Katherine is a 32-year-old mother who resides in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. Her film explores the killing of a woman in the Highlands who is suspected of witchcraft. Katherine wishes to show people the importance of women in Pacific society and highlight the fact that women are the first ones to mould children into adults.