FILM ACTORS IN FIJI.
PRODUCING AN AUSTRALIAN
By PERCY C CURTIS.
Producer Dawn's company of Australian moving picture stars in Australasian Films' screen version of 'The Adorable Outcast" were unlucky at Suva, Fiji, encountering 14 days of continuous rain but fine weather prevailed for their three weeks stay in Bau, the old capital of Fiji. Five Indian cooks and Fijian boys accompanied them to Bau to act as waiters, the food consisting of taro, yams, turtles, cooking bananas, cocoanuts, and fish cooked in cocoanut oil, an appetising and delicious change from the customary diet. The popular native drink is kava which is sipped from a kava bowl, and, though not intoxicating it soon makes one sag at the knees if imbibed too freely. After the evening meal the players spent most of their time sightseeing carrying lamps or torches owing to the lack of lighting facili ties on the island, which is covered with little fresh water wells sunk 6ft deep in the ground. There was no lack of enter tainment. One had only to walk into a native hut to join in a game of euchre with the natives who sit, eat, and sleep on the floor of their hut.
MANY LOCAL MELBAS.
As vocalists they can claim a lot of local Melbas. One evening a male member of the company lay spread-eagled on the middle of the floor of a native burri (house), surrounded entirely with native girls singing Fijian chants and Tongan hymns. The effect was soothing, and he fell asleep, to awake at sunrise in the mor- row and find they had placed a mat over him to keep him warm and a thick bam- boo beneath his head for a pillow. The mission church on the island was well patronised each night by the movie folk. Service was conducted by a Fijian minister, and a mixed choir of natives sang in natural and perfect harmony, male singers on one side and the women on the other. Basses and baritones predominated, tenors were scarce, and two of the sopranos pos- sessed glorious voices. Following the col- lection, the missionary thanked members of the company for their prac
tical assistance, announcing the result of the collection as the largest ever taken up during his period as sky pilot, and assuring them their influence upon the natives had been for the good.
A heathen temple, used as a "prop" room for one of the big, scenes taken in Bau, housed some of the bloodiest orgies known in the history of the island. In this temple victims of war were battered and taken to the cooking pot. After the feast the bones were buried beneath the floor of the temple, and natives would not dig anywhere in this vicinity, because they feared the evil spirits inhabiting the building.
SHARKS AND MYTHOLOGY.
The sea at Bau is infested with twelve foot sharks, but the natives do not fear them owing to a strange mythology. The canoes in which the players sailed were very frail, with only about four inches of free board, and hardly reassuring in a shark-infested area. The island chief, however, King Ratu Popi, guaranteed them absolute freedom from danger from sharks, because his family was related to Duckwanna, the shark god, who on stormy nights took human form and walked about Bau. Ratu Popi claimed that he was the only person who dare approach the shark god without being instantly killed. The great shark god had also promised Ratu Popi never to attack a Bau man in the water, which apparent- ly accounts for the reason why natives of Bau swim around like human fish in these treacherous waters. A more logi
cal explanation of their lack of fear would probably be because the sea at Bau is so full of fish that the shark is never hungry. Although the natives are more Christianised now, and attend church regularly, one can imagine by this strange mythology that they be lieve sincerely they are under the pro tection of the great shark god.
WEIRD NATIVE FAITHS
Norman Dawn has weaved into the picture another of the weird native faiths, the ceremony of the Bangor firewalker,
in walking through a blazing pit as practical evidence of his belief that he is fireproof. A huge trench is dug deep in the ground and bricks placed on the bottom to make an even surface. A blazing fire is lit on the bricks; while it is raging the fire is raked off, and the native then walks across the red hot bricks. Following this leaves are sprink led over the bricks and the native sits down upon the leaves until the smoke and heat burn through them-another way of showing that fire will not harm him.
The picture should abound in romantic and picturesque scenery, some of the tropical "shots" showing the Maiden's Leap, a beautiful waterfall, with mag nificcnt cascades falling from a height of 90ft into the Wai River, and surmounted by trees festooned in vines and creepers
and covered with wonderful green fernery.
At Bau 300 natives were employed in building the exterior of a big Fijian ceremonial hut, representing the strong- hold of the beachcombes. The hut, 200ft. long and 30ft. high, was built on top of a small island, 30ft. above the water's edge. A platform was built around it, from where huge rocks were hurled down upon the natives as they attacked it from below in their canoes. In the midst of the fight it was burned to the ground. Another spectacular scene was the dance of the native warriors before embarking in their canoes for war. The last oc- casion on which this dance was perfom ed the natives. sank 36 war canoes, slaughtered 2000 warriors, and brought back to Bau 85 Tongan chiefs, whom they cooked and ate. The practice of eating their prisoners was due to the belief that they thus absorbed the fight-
ing virtue of the remainder of their
enemy. King Ratu Popi, who watched the dance, embarkation for war, and the actual battle itself, pronounced the scene as having been reproduced with thrilling realism. Ten bullocks, barbecued on the hot stones, 20 pigs, 12 turtles, 5000 yams, and 3000 taros made up the mighty feast that followed the Dance of Victory in- dulged in by the Fijian fighters to pro- vide one of the big scenes in "The Ador able Outcast."
FAIRYLANDS OF DELIGHT.
On a Sunday afternoon the company went out to one of the highland villages in Fiji, and inspected a "bird-cage"
house, which is so typical of the quaint
native houses in the South Seas. They also found some amusement in watching the natives racing up trees after cocoa- nuts in a Polynesian cocoanut grove. The climate in Fiji is reputed to be the healthiest tropical climate in the world, and Dawn's players found that the won- ders of nature were ever-changing. Sun rise and sunset transformed their "loca tions" into fairylands of delight, and the picture will take in one of the finest drives from Suva to the look-out at Tamavua village and Sawani-road, absorb ing a magnificent panorama of land and sea. Seven of the company have already returned to Sydney, and they speak of the natives as possessing a wonderful physique, a happy and healthy moral dis- position among their own race, and an
hospitable nature toward friendly visitors.
Attack on a native hut, which is destroyed by fire in Norman Dawn's production of "The Adorable Outcast " for
Australasian Films. Ltd.
The Australian members of the com- pany were charmed with Edith Roberts, Edmund Burns, and Walter Long, the three Hollywood stars who are also ap- pearing in the picture. Jessica Harcourt formed a very sincere friendship with Eddie Burns, the handsome matinee idol, who, she says, will create a tremendous "flapper" following in this country. Walter Long, the bold, bad villain of the picture, who captures the adorable outcast and turns her over to the can-
nibals to hold captive at his pleasure, won instant popularity with the Aus- tralians by doing all his own "stunting," instead of calling upon a "double" to appear in the more thrilling scenes which were accompanied with any risk of danger. Producer Dawn and the re- maining personnel of the company return to Sydney to shoot all the intcriors of the picture at the Union Master Studio at Bondi Junction, New South Wales.