Making Hula Girls : a cocktail for international co-production

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2009
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This ‘doctoral package’ comprises two parts produced as practice-based research within the DC A program at UTS: (1) the documentary film Hula Girls — Imagining Paradise, a fifty- two minute documentary that I researched, wrote and directed in 2004 & 2005 for broadcasters in Europe and Australia (included in the back of this document); and (2) this document, Making Hula Girls, which is a reflection on the making of the documentary Hula Girls. The latter should be viewed before reading this document, as it is the major creative component of my DCA submission. This document accompanies the film, enhancing and making explicit the research and resultant knowledge that are implicit in the creative work. The aim of this document is to explore the processes I employed in making the documentary and to account for some of the financing and editorial considerations at work in producing an Australian documentary for the international television market. The international market for pre-selling Australian programs is extremely tough and competitive. It’s a buyer’s market. Making Hula Girls demonstrates how and why the program attracted buyers (Commissioning Editors) and reveals the creative processes employed to ensure it had a smooth path through production and engaged audiences particularly locally for SBS-TV. Concurrent with these marketplace considerations this text, like the film, investigates the origins and continuing legacy of the hula girl image, an icon that has captured the imagination of Westerners since Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s voyage to Tahiti in 1768. For over two centuries ‘she’ has been immortalized and exploited by artists, travellers, tourists and film makers. Millions of people across the world identify the image of the beautiful Polynesian woman as an invitation to paradise. But, just how real is she? In completing this ‘doctoral package’, I argue that Australian documentaries can succeed in the international market if producers are mindful of the need to appeal to international audiences, have a coherent knowledge of broadcaster slots and a familiarity with the tastes of Commissioning Editors they are pitching to. I conclude that there are creative restraints required by these markets and I elaborate on their impact for filmmakers. Additionally, the film and text argue that the enduring hula girl representation is half real, half myth — a product of male fantasies, a by-word for paradise and a creation of the Hollywood Dream Factory.
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