If you’re going to do something creative, do it well, do it often, and surrender yourself to it.
“My whole life I’ve always been creating something. Creation was put in me. I have to create,” admits the confident introverted Samoan-American award winning filmmaker and artist.
Born Iosua Tai Taeoalii in Murray, Utah, he shares, “My parents were supportive of the arts and they knew I wanted to be an artist. In elementary school, I’d draw a picture for my friends and they’d buy it for a quarter.”
His earlier works have traces of his own rebellion and self-determination, “I was as urban as I could possibly be from Salt Lake City.” He credits growing up in Utah’s skate-punk era contributed to influencing his urban style.
By 16 years old, Taeoalii artistic urban style extended to showcasing his creativity in public spaces not always in the most legal of circumstances. He painted so well, “A police officer told me about an anti-graffiti/anti-gang competition and encouraged me to enter. I won.” He used part of his earnings from the competition to pay off graffiti violation fines.
Two years later, Taeoalii enrolled in film courses at the University of Utah where at 18 years old, the college freshman would write, produce and co-direct his first feature film, “Luck & Rat Poisoning”, a comedy-drama shot in video. The film sold out screenings at the Salt Lake City Art Center, Utah’s premium venue for contemporary arts featuring leading local and international artists.
The best way to learn how to make a movie is to make a movie.
~Iosua Tai Taeoalii
He continued on to complete two more feature films, “Hustle & Hustler” and “Twice the Day”, which earned him a Best Film award at a North Carolina film festival, all before the age of twenty-one.
“I was blown away,” says Taeoalii, “but I knew they [films] were stepping stones.”
To date, he’s stepped into four completed feature films with the most recent, “Dark Room” sold to Vanguard Cinema, a distribution company based in Santa Monica, soon to be available for dvd distribution and digital download.
In 1996, he founded Weird Chief Pictures(WCP), which originally focused on film projects and episodic television series productions. Currently, WCP functions as an urban galleria exhibiting his finest works and his inspiration, wife Adrienne Taeoalii’s, collection of her urban art.
In 2005, Adrienne quit her job after his first painting sold on ebay within minutes of posting. Weeks later, the increasing demand for iconic pop-art pieces which uses the latest techniques in photograph, paint, stencil and free-hand custom made pop-culture characters would become their most popular best selling work to date. “For six years straight, we’ve painted non-stop,” Adrienne says.
Together, their works make up an impressive online gallery of film, music, and paintings which reflect an urban renaissance and awaken fantasy into something closer to reality.
“My work is abstract but there’s an urban quality to it,” he says, “Instead of spending money to create art, I’m finding a way to sell it.” The Taeoalii’s have sold over 9,000 pieces of their own creative art worldwide. To work as full time artists and produce thousands of hand-made artwork within six years is ambitious enough, but to create art that sells, especially in this penny-pinching depressed economy, is jaw-dropping.
“Within two years, I’d like to be in Samoa. I’m super passionate about being Samoan more than I’m given credit for. . . Most people will see me and not recognize that I’m Polynesian. I want to add a Samoan theme to it. Part of the plan is to move to Samoa and get more inspired from my roots. I want to learn. I want to create more. I like putting more into my work. Every piece of work is a part of you.”
Weird Chief Pictures’ exciting future project includes production of “Toa, Legend of the Pacific”, screenplay written by Taeoalii, a film based on the Samoan legend of Malietoa.
Article Written By: Marina Latu
*photos courtesy of Weird Chief Pictures.