Living Close To the Land in Kauai
As a quiet warrior of a child, I secretly hoped I would be sent off to live with my godfather when my parents were being too strict. It was a secret pride I held knowing that I could escape to the jungle if need be. Memories of Kauai and my godfather / cousin Christopher Robin were like glowing childlike adventures from A. A. Milne’s book — except Pooh’s dear friend Piglet would be served for dinner.
I spent many summers of my childhood in Kauai visiting my cousin Christopher Robin. When I was around 10 years old, I remember hiking with him along the Napali coastline when he told me he would “be right back” and to “just keep going on this trail.” Enough time had passed for me to feel like a rebel but not enough to make me worried when he caught up with me with a goat over his shoulders. He had shot it with a bow and arrow, and we would smoke it that night. He smiled and tossed me some lemons he’d picked that tasted like oranges, and I happily ate them until my tongue was raw. I remember thinking that he was wild, and that the wild was a good thing.
Prior to my most recent trip I hadn’t been back to Kauai in 10 years. Christopher has a family now, and they live happily against the mountains and enjoy smoked wild boar when fate allows — which is often. I wondered if my glossy memories of a wild man in the jungle would still fit with the Christopher Robin of today, a man of 42 with four kids and bills to pay.
I’ve always wanted to make a short film about Christopher. I feel that the films I want to make most are the films that need to prove something to myself, like “Do what you love and the rest follows,” or “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” With this one, it was about the wild. Because I buy meat from the grocery store and the only proof I’ve ever killed something is a photo of me when I was five with a fish at the end of a line. I told Christopher’s seven-year-old daughter Elva that I’d never killed anything and she seemed surprised, and maybe a bit confused as to what I was all about. Later, I saw her hold the heart of a wild boar she’d just hours before called “Pixy” while feeding the caged animal guavas.
There was only one other filmmaker I could think of to bring into this world. I asked Thatcher Bean to co-direct the film because of his own curiosity for what Kauai holds, and for his unique eye for beauty in nature. We spent two weeks in a tent in the pasture behind Christopher’s house. What we captured there will be made into a short film to be released later this year. Stay tuned.