Back home after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in performing and screen arts from New Zealand’s Unitec university, Josh Baker is passionate about two things – movies and the Cook Islands.
Combining these two loves, Baker hopes to start a film festival on Rarotonga and also run free workshops for those interested in learning about the business and art of filmmaking.
The workshops will be run by “top film practitioners within the New Zealand film industry”.
With filmmakers from New Zealand already onboard who are willing to donate their time, skills and knowledge, all the former Nukutere College pupil has to do now is figure out how to get them here.
“I’ve got the films, I’ve got amazing filmmakers overseas who are willing to be a part of it – it’s just figuring out how we are going to make it happen,” he says.
The enthusiastic 24 year old admits it’s a slow process however – particularly when it comes to drumming up funds.
“I am humbly approaching the community to see if anyone is interested in helping me fund the festival,” says Baker.
“There has to be a want for it from the public as well,” he adds. “But I think if there was an event like this, people would be interested in it.
“Mainly because we’ve seen it in the past – the Film Raro festival was a big success because people love seeing our faces on screen you know? I mean, who doesn’t really? If you can relate to the characters on the screen, there’s a connection there.”
Referencing the New Zealand film Gary Of The Pacific, Baker says the bottom line for him is that Cook Islanders should be telling their own Cook Islands stories.
“It’s about introducing the Pacific community to this idea that films are something we should invest our time and money in,” he says. “Because if people are talking about us, for us, then why can’t we talk about ourselves, you know?
“Why can’t we write our own scripts, why can’t we direct our own movies, why can’t we produce them?
“Gary Of The Pacific was produced, written and directed by outsiders – it wasn’t directed, written or produced by Cook Islanders. It was filmed here in the Cook Islands, and even though the film itself wasn’t actually set here, it’s still our backdrop, it’s still us being represented.
“So for us to actually take charge in what’s being made, that’s a big step towards creating films that are authentic. That’s the reason why I want to have this film festival.”