One of New Zealand's most successful social media influencers has tried his hand at screenwriting and hopes other Pacific creatives are inspired to follow suit.
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There’s nothing unusual about Polynesians playing rugby in South Auckland unless it’s during a Zombie apocalypse.
Torrell Tafa is a social media influencer, writer, and actor starring as himself in The Last Samoan Zombie.
Tafa got to make his first film with his friends Johnny Tuivasa, Elvis Lopeti, and Uce Gang(Simeon Fiapule) who are some of Aotearoa's arguably best Pacific social media personalities.
The movie starts in a rugby locker room with a group of Polynesian men who aren’t the best players.
“They are about to go face the big wide world … but then [they are] met with all these zombies, which is quite unexplained, but it just happens and that's what it is.”
He says it's about the boys tackling their priorities in an apocalyptic world.
“Visiting family, getting food, getting girls and it's all about kind of what the boys want to do and how they get to those points.”
Tafa co-wrote the film with Jermaine Leef and says it was a bonus that he got the popular Ōtara Scorpions to take part.
“As soon as we got that, it was pretty crazy. I was happy to play for 274.”
He says he went the non-traditional way with Leef shooting the film in just six days.
“We were just like, let's do it, let's film it. We don't have any budget, but we've got, you know, this great team and we can try put them all together.”
Even though it’s a comedy-drama, the overarching theme of the film is the growth from boys to men, says Tafa.
“We see a lot of faults in the boys and then in this apocalyptic world, how they would kind of cope or work as a team and at the end overcome all these things.”
Tafa initially didn’t see himself cast in the film but ended up acting in it as they all knew each other.
“Anyone who's known about Cougar Boys, I was kind of more of like the director, writer, and producer of that whole thing and then I acted here and there.”
Tafa and Leef came up with a few ideas before picking the Last Samoan Zombie.
“From there, we just wrote a whole heap of jokes and a structure and kind of put it together."
“I've been doing social media for like 10 years and I've been writing four-line scripts in my iPhone note app … this is pretty much my first time writing anything like this.”
The movie is about Samoans and Zombies.
The team is coming from a different angle because of their age.
“Most of us are New Zealand-born Kiwis that are, I'd say like 28 to 30."
“The fact that it's like us, Polynesian boys from New Zealand doing this is crazy."
“I don't know if it’s biased and because I’m Sa but I feel like our humour is top tier and there’s just not enough of it online.”
Tafa hopes the short film is something Polynesians are proud of and is part of the online content he wants to see more of.
“The more we see of it, I think the more other Polynesians might be inspired to just put themselves out there."
“I can't wait to make our Polynesians laugh.”
The movie is due for release on the 20th of December.
Hero Image: The main cast: From left backrow: Elvis Lopeti, Zombie, Uce Gang, Torrell Tafa. From left front row: Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, unidentified zombie.
Photo/ Mary Afemata