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Saturday 18 November 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Entertainment, Features


Journalist recounts Stranded Pearl experience
Tiana Haxton. 23111719

Cook Islands journalist Tiana Haxton gives her account of working on a full-length feature film, shot in Rarotonga.

Cook Islands News: What was your role in this project?

I, in a sense played myself under a different name. I am Moana, a TV News reporter.

How did you land the role? Was there any audition process?

Anand (Naidu) reached out to me early last year to ask if I’d be interested and available to shoot for some additional fill scenes needed to help the story flow. I was still working with CITV then and my role would be a TV reporter, so I was more than keen to do so. It’s not every day you get asked to be in a movie, so I jumped at the opportunity even though it was a small role.

Did you have any prior experience in this role?

As I have been anchoring the local news for six years, and filming myself, the role came very naturally as I in a sense, felt like I was just doing my job but with a different name.

What was the experience like?

It was actually quite exciting going out with Anand and Stan, and filming our pieces. Even though I only play a small role, it’s still quite the experience and getting to say I was in a locally produced film, and alongside some big New Zealand and Aussie names. The guys grew extra arms as they found ways to hold all their equipment and get the lighting and audio just right, which was very entertaining … All I had to do was stand there and read my news script and try not to squint.

What were some of the highlights and challenges?

The biggest highlight was watching the draft cuts and seeing how the team wove in all the little extra scenes we did. During one of my scenes a helicopter flies overhead which is not something I’ve ever had happen in an actual news report yet, but that would be quite exciting indeed. As for challenges, lighting is very important for any filming gig. I don’t film myself outside in full sunlight usually, let alone with a reflector bouncing extra light at me, so my one challenge was to not squint and look natural. Oh, and not defaulting back to my actual news name.

Have you seen the final product? What are your thoughts?

I haven’t seen the final, but I have seen a few draft cuts and seen them develop over the past year. I’ll admit it did look a little rough in those first couple of drafts, as aspects such as colour grading, audio balancing and CGI were not yet smoothed out, however I could see great potential for it and am very much looking forward to seeing the final product.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve seen a few incredible films come out of the Cook Islands over the years, I hope this is just one of many that will be produced locally over the next couple of years as we have an absolutely stunning country with a beautiful community, and I’d love to see more of that featured on the big screen. I’d also love to get involved in more films, and maybe try my hand at some bigger roles. I have plans of my own to produce some films here in the Cook Islands and this experience has linked me up with some amazing local talent that could be part of such dreams of mine.