Our goal for Waru was to communicate the shared feelings we have towards child abuse in Aotearoa (New Zealand). We felt the best way to tell this story was from a female Maori persepctive and from muliple viewpoints.
We raised a budget of just under half a million dollars from Te Mangai Paho (funding body for Maori language preservation) and NZ On Air with support from Maori Televsion. The NZ Film Commission joined with incredible support once we were in post production.
We invited the 8 film makers: Chelsea Cohen, Ainsley Gardiner, Briar Grace-Smith, Paula Jones, Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene, Katie Wolfe; each of whom would make one film.
We then set creative restrictions on how all films were to be developed. They were:
10 minutes Long
All set during the same time of day
All filmed in a single shot
Lead wahine Maori character
All connected to the death of Waru
Only one shoot day per film
Developing the scripts began with a 5 day retreat on Waiheke Island in May 2016 at which time a ninth creative joined the team, Josephine Stewar-Te Whiu. After this each director workshopped their scripts with actors before delivering a final shooting script in July 2016.
Production took place in August 2016 over 8 days. Our locations were scattered all over Auckland from Tuakau to Karaka to central Auckland to Parakai. Every day began with a karakia (Maori prayer) and every day presented new challenges for everyone to overcome in order to shoot the vignette in a single shot.
'Anahera' had a large cast of tamariki (children); 'Titty & Bash' was shot 80% inside a moving car; 'Mihi' finished with a crane shot; 'Kiritapu' was in a TV studio with working monitors and camera; 'Em' had a prosthetic that needed to be applied during the shot; 'Ranui' had a large cast of extras and moved from a car to a marae and back again; 'Mere' had a brand new teen actress; and 'Charm', with the most supporting cast, needed to be choreographed like an intricate dance.
As it turned out some directors ended up with a number of full takes but others only ended up with one or two. Most of the directors decided to splice different takes together if they had the option to. The reason we had given the restriction to film in one shot wasn't just as a creative challenge but in order to give the feeling of sharing a moment in time with these characters. The actors are living these moments in real time and we are able to watch their entire journey over the 10 minutes.
We belive WARU is not only a new take on the anthology film genre, but also shares important thoughts on child abuse and the factors associated with it from the perspective of wahine Maori (Maori women).