48hr Challenge 2018 - Salt Lake City Participant: KEIKI TAYLOR
Interviewed by guest blogger, Vanilla Tupu
Transcribed by resident blogger, Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu
Keiki Taylor, on the set of short film, Hugh. Dir by Keiki Taylor in partnership with Spy Hop and it's programme, PitchNic. Image taken by Casey Josephson.
Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Keiki Taylor, of Fijian and palagi descent. I am a film student, studying at the University of Utah. I’ll be in my 3rd year this coming fall.
How did you come to be involved with the Pasifika Film Fest? How did you hear about it?
I actually heard about this from a Pasifika friend of mine who sent me a DM on Instagram about it. I thought the idea of it was really cool, and something I really needed at the time. So I applied and got in.
What was your decision to join the 48hr challenge?
The decision to doing the 48hr challenge was a gateway for me to connect with my Pasifika side and work alongside other Pasifika artists. Prior to this, I had never worked with anyone of Pasifika descent in any film project. So part of doing this challenge was personal in the sense that we could create stories from those of Pasifika ancestry.
How was the process of the 48hr challenge for you?
The 48hr challenge helped me to connect with Pasifika people across all spectrums of filmmaking such as writers/directors and allowed me to make those connections for ongoing and future projects. When I did the challenge, we took the works of an established Pasifika artist/poet and created footage to go over it.
Keiki Taylor getting B-Roll footage in Big Cottonwood Canyon for Theatre Promo piece "The Woods" part of The Fringe Festival. Image taken by Mason Henrie.
What have you been up to since the challenge?
Since the challenge, I’ve spent most of my time supporting and helping other artists create work while honing in on my own craft. Being a part of the original 48hr challenge has coincided by really helping me as a film student.
Being located in SLC do you find that there is a strong Pasifika filmmaking hub/community? If yes/no how has that affected your craft?
The Pasifika community group here is bigger than you’d think. A lot of the people are passionate about growing it. I feel like it is still growing and running strong.
There are 2 main Pasifika arts organisations based here in Salt Lake City. One is called Pasifika First Fridays (https://www.facebook.com/pasifikafirstfridays/) who collaborated/helped with PFF to run the 48hr challenge and the other one is PEAU (Pacific Enrichment of Art, Utah) (https://www.facebook.com/emPEAUer/) who work across various mediums of storytelling. Both organisations I’ve been able to connect and do more work through too.
Keiki Taylor scouting locations in Salt Lake City for an upcoming/undisclosed project. Image taken by Sri Radhakrishnan.
As someone of Pasifika heritage, what does it mean to have spaces like Pasifika Film Festival exist?
It sounds kinda cheesy, but it means everything to me. We are underrepresented in alot of industries, not just film. Its just nice to have spaces that create stories of people who look like me, by people who look like me too.
Do you have a Pasifika artist that you aspire towards, look up to?
There are sooo many. A few that come to mind. I love Taika Waititi. I love his films. He’s just amazing!
I’m fascinated by everyone and their stories. People such as Moana Palelei HoChing (and the entire HoChing family in fact). They’re all just so amazing! Then there is Lauren To’omalatai Ulugia, of Samoan descent. Another outspoken Pasifika artist who is unapologetically herself.
There are just so many, and I don’t want to forget them, ugh!
One that has resonated with me more recently is Reina Kapiolani Pahulu, who is an amazing Tongan poet/writer and so talented in so many things. She has such a unique and creative voice. She is uplifting towards other Pasifika women which is super important right now. From what I know about her, I can just tell that she genuinely wants all Pasifika people to succeed. Because we are so deserving of success. And it’s nice to see people that look like me want to succeed, as well as succeed too.
Keiki Taylor (centre) with fellow PitchNic classmates at the premiere of Hugh dir Keiki Taylor in 2017 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Image taken by Sri Radhakrishnan.
The Pasifika Film Fest are optimistic with the festival going ahead, some form of the 48hr challenge will go ahead. Would you come back?
I would definitely love to do another 48hr challenge. It was one of the greatest experiences ever. I had felt a bit of a disconnect from my Pasifika heritage. With my Mum of Fijian descent and Dad being palagi, none of the other participants knew this, but I lost my Mother in 2016. All my Fijian family live in Fiji. So the environment of the 48hr challenge itself was so uplifting and inspiring. Even though everyone in the room didn’t know my situation, or didn’t know my story, they constantly encouraged me to be myself and tell stories. As someone of Pasifika heritage, there is this unspoken love and familial feel that naturally happens towards each other. I can’t explain, but you get it, right? It was something that I hadn’t been feeling in a while since my Mother’s passing. And something I didn’t know I was missing until then.
How do you envision the next short term future for you?
Long term, I definitely want to direct but not be limited to just that. I want to write screenplays and produce. For now, and leading into our summer, I want to direct, write, produce and really hone into my craft. For the short term, I really want to do 3 things basically: a narrative short film, a documentary short film (as I am kinda obsessed with nature documentaries) and finding a Pasifika subject to make a film on.
Keiki Taylor location scouting for another undisclosed/upcoming project in Topanga Canyon, Califorinia. Image taken by Lomani Taylor.
Do you have any advice for any Pasifika people interested in doing the 48hr Film Challenge with the Pasifika Film Fest or anyone wanting to be a part of the industry?
The best way to learn is to do it. Jump right in. If you have questions, ask. People actually want to help you. You won’t know that unless you jump right in and ask!
Where can someone see any of your works?
Here is a link to our PFF 48 Hour Film Challenge:
Any last words?
If there is anyone who is willing to work with Pasifika people and the festival, they should definitely do the 48hr challenge. I guarantee it is one experience I will never forget and one that I recommend all Pasifika creatives get into if you get the chance.