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Bad News Turned Into Good Doco Career

Bad News Turned Into Good Doco Career

By Jacqui Stanford, an Auckland University of Technology student journalist covering the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference

Writer and filmmaker Makareta Urale turned to making documentaries after becoming disillusioned with journalism.

"I realised that good news is bad news in the media today," she told this year¹s Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference that has just ended at Auckland University of Technology.

She came to this conclusion after her first graduate job at Radio New Zealand, where she says she was encouraged to cover heartbreaking events such as a baby being stabbed to death.

"I got quite disillusioned as a journalist there," she said.

Her documentary, Savage Symbols, was shown at Auckland¹s International Film Festival last year.

It is about the art of traditional Samoan tattooing, called pe¹a, and is based on interviews with nine men who have these tattoos.

Urale made the piece without any film training, after receiving a $30,000 grant from Creative New Zealand.

A book that she borrowed from a library written by a BBC World director on how to make documentaries was her sole guide.

"I really just looked at the pictures ­ it was a pretty thick book," she said.

Urale hired only two others and created Savage Symbols with limited resources.

"It was many months of hard work," she said. "It was such a low budget thing. You can hear the wind in some of the interviews because we didn¹t even have a sock for the mike."

Born in Savai¹i, Samoa, Urale migrated to New Zealand with her family when she was nine and a half.

"I was probably the most politically minded in my family," she said. "I¹m a bit more bolshy. I¹ll throw my weight around a bit more."

When she was a student at Wellington East Girl¹s College, Urale led a protest against a beauty contest her sister had entered.

She and a group of friends threw eggs and tomatoes in protest - but her sister won the competition.

Her current project is a one-hour documentary on the Auckland hip-hop group Nesian Mystik, which will screen on TV2 when completed.

© Scoop Media

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