‘Flying Fox …’ editor returns to Samoa

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 26 May 2016, 12:00AM

The film editor of the 1989 movie “Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree”, Ken Zemke is in Samoa doing editing work for the Bahai church. 

This trip to Samoa is much treasured because he has returned to the land where he was first introduced to the Samoan culture and way of life and it is obvious that the passing years have not diminished his love of film editing.  

The ‘Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree’ was written by well known Samoan author, Albert Wendt and most of the movie was filmed in Samoa with only 5% of it filmed back in New Zealand. 

Mr. Zemke said  the whole cast of the movie were Samoans except for the Police Commissioner who was a “palagi”.

He said filming with a Samoan crew in 1989 was amazing. 

Mr Zemke was born in Buffalo New York State in 1937, grew up in San Diego California where he received his degree in television and broadcasting from San Diego State University in 1962. 

He then joined the Military Coast Guard and set his goal to be part of the media.

His first job was with CBS Television; the largest network in America. 

“I started in the mail room, delivering mail,” said Zemke. 

He said he hadn’t done any editing at university but when he moved up to making promo clips for upcoming programmes, that’s when he developed his love of editing. 

“I love editing. What a magic you can do in putting together films and that’s when I fell in love with films,” he added. 

Mr Zemke’s first TV series he edited was ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, before he got involved with other television programmes. 

Working at the largest network in the United States of America was everything that Zemke ever dreamed of but he felt he could not stick there forever. 

Zemke said he had a long life plans with his wife Mary Zemke who wanted to move to an English- speaking country to raise their children.

New Zealand was the place, they decided. 

The couple moved from Hollywood to New Zealand in 1981 with their three children. 

Mr Zemke continued his work in New Zealand as a Film Editor and he was able to edit documentaries and feature films. 

In 1986, Zemke was named the best editor in the New Zealand Film and TV Awards for editing a popular New Zealand feature film, “Came a Hot Friday”. 

Zemke said the worse part of his career was the transition to modern technology. 

“Editing a movie you have a crew to do this and that but with the computer editing system you can do everything at once.” 

He said despite the slow transition for him, he managed to get through. 

Zemke is now working full-time on the “Baha’i on Air” programmes which are aired in New Zealand as well as on Youtube.

By Pai Mulitalo Ale 26 May 2016, 12:00AM
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