Thousands of years ago the greatest sailors in the world discovered and settled the islands of Fiji. Their culture thrived and the passage of tradition continued through the generations even after European settlement. Now with the rest of the world’s social, cultural and economic influences bearing down, Fiji struggles to retain its priceless seafaring traditions and identity.
In one of the most remote islands of the archipelago the passage of knowledge continues in the form of boatbuilding and sailing. The beautiful art of carving the iconic outrigger sail canoe known as the camakau struggles to stay alive. Invasive global, economic and technological forces threaten to snuff out the tradition and break the pivotal cultural connection to the past forever.
CAMAKAU is the story of a man on the edge of the world whose desire to preserve his ancestors’ knowledge is realized in his sons. Together they have committed to leave their home to reawaken the past by handing the boatbuilding and seafaring knowledge of their ancestors onto the next generation.
Some of the hurdles they face include encroaching globalism, socio-economic stagnation and resource deprivation. The clock is ticking as Mr. Vuli grows older and his sons must seek out gainful employment on the mainland. This may be the last opportunity they will have to keep their culture afloat.
Will was born in Sydney, Australia and has lived all over the world. Working in Los Angeles, Will cut his teeth in production at TheLip.tv, a premiere source for independent news. He quickly moved up the chain to producer and studio manager creating thousands of hours of high-level news and interview content. When not working, he is on the open water pursuing his other passion of competitive sailing. Will also serves on the board of directors of Mending Kids, an international non-profit that provides life-changing surgical care to children worldwide.
THOMAS OWEN MOORE
Thomas earned a B.A. in Film Studies from U.C. Santa Cruz. He began his career in film by working as a script supervisor on episodic television and commercials, then transitioned into directing. His first short film, Motel, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival. He went on to make a documentary, Buffalo, which premiered at the Kona Surf Film Festival and played the following year for an encore. Presently, he creates content for brands such as, Armani, Cavalli, Clarins, Dolce and Gabbana, Goop, Superga, Tag Huer, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Birch, and Wella. Thomas also was awarded a PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship as a writer of short fiction.
Summer of 2016: Mr. Vuli, a native Fijian and master craftsman in the art of canoe building, and his sons will travel from Tuvuca, a small, isolated island in the incredibly remote Lau Group of the Fijian Archipelago, to a densely forested neighboring island. Here, Mr. Vuli and his sons will select and fell a suitable tree for the hull of a 22 foot outrigger sail canoe known as the camakau. They will drag the tree through the forest to a meadow in the heart of a sheltered cove. Over the next two months, Mr. Vuli will teach his sons to carve the hull of a canoe, the outrigger, the masts, and the tiller with hand tools and then to assemble the craft using traditional methods. When the construction is complete, they will sail the canoe home to Tuvuca.
The aim of this documentary will be to create a historical record of a vanishing maritime culture. By being afforded the time and resources to teach the way of the camakau to his children, Mr. Vuli will have opportunity to preserve the dying art of traditional canoe building and to prevent the disappearance of this ancient tradition from the Lau Islands and Fiji as a whole.
We will bring Mr. Vuli and his sons to the island. From the felling of the tree to the maiden voyage, the entire endeavor of making the camakau will be documented. During the construction, we will film interviews with Mr. Vuli and his sons. These interviews will cover topics such as but not limited to: the effects of global influences upon their island communities, the dynamics of their familial and interpersonal relationships, local folklore of canoe voyaging and the history of canoe building in the remotest parts of Fiji. Additionally, In the wake of Hurricane Winston we hope to explore the effects climate change and environmental factors have on Fijian life.
We wish to also understand the arc of their experience during the project; how might their understanding of themselves and their culture have changed during the process of making the film. We’d like to make the interviews collaborative. We will seek to encourage their stories, what they wish to tell the world, what record they would like to leave behind. This film will have a narrative voice beyond the limitations of a storyline restricted by the filmmakers' point of view.