TV crews' equipment theft a disgraceful act

By The Editorial Board 20 September 2022, 6:00AM

Theft of film production equipment. Two-week-old Police investigations. Close to 300 film and production crew affected. Suspects remain at large in paradise.

Sounds like the perfect script for a Hollywood thriller. But then it happened right under our noses two weeks ago, here in beautiful Samoa in fact. 

The front page article (Theft of Survivor show’s equipment investigated) in the Monday 19 September 2022, which had details on thieves targeting the Australian Survivor film and production crew, should have everyone seething.

Police Commissioner Auapa'au Logoitino Filipo confirmed the Police-led investigation when contacted by the Samoa Observer on Sunday.

He said the theft case was first reported to the Ministry of Police and Prisons two weeks ago.

"I can confirm that the police investigation is continuing," Auapa'au told this newspaper on Sunday. "We had assigned a team to investigate the incident and the last update I received was that we still haven't found any suspects. 

“But I will follow up with our team and will inform you if there's any developments to our investigations."

The theft of the film and electronic equipment was nothing short of disgraceful and a national embarrassment. Who in their right minds would steal film production equipment knowing fully well the broader ramifications it will have on the reputation of Samoa as a long-term tourism destination?

Thanks to this criminal act this is probably the last time the Australian Survivor reality TV series is filmed and produced in Samoa, resulting in villages potentially missing out on the opportunity to receive some form of income and Samoa Tourism Authority’s marketing strategy going belly-up.

Let’s crunch the numbers, in terms of the visibility of Samoa’s tourism assets, and what the loss of free publicity through the cancellation of the shooting of future televised series could mean for the country going forward. 

According to global content creator Paramount (ANZ), Australian Survivor Season 3 filmed in Samoa in 2016 had an average national audience of 1.02 million viewers in Australia, including 769,000 capital city viewers. And metro television audiences and online catch-up viewing as well as television encore totalled 878,000.

These are numbers beyond the wildest dreams of the STA and its marketing division – in terms of the country’s pristine environment getting global exposure through the television series – and the best thing is that the authority and the Samoa Government didn’t have to pay a single sene (cents) at that time.

Close to three years after the shooting of Australian Survivor Season 3, data from the STA for 2019 showed that Australia was Samoa’s top market in terms of arrivals with 4,842 visitors to our shores.

Do you think there is a link between those visitor numbers to Samoa in 2019 and the Australian Survivor Season 3 premiering in Australia across all networks in mid-2016?

We leave it to you to decide, but must mention that there are studies from around the world, which identified the “relationship between travel motivation and popular media (mainly films or TV programs).

So the country and citizens should feel let down that six years after the last visit of an Australian Survivor film and production crew, and on the cusp of completing the shoot, thieves pounced on the unsuspecting visitors. Samoa will be lucky, if the Australian production company is able to complete the shoot, following the theft of their equipment.

Living in our tight knit communities we believe there are people out there who either heard about the theft or know the identities of those involved. Their identities should not be concealed but rather be brought to the attention of the Police.

The fact that this case has not had any breakthrough over the past two weeks should weigh heavily on our minds and trouble our consciousness. We are a nation of law abiding citizens and not one of thieves embracing a life of thuggery.

Having just celebrated another round of the country’s 60th Independence anniversary celebrations, surely there is a good man or good woman out there, who will feel compelled to do the right thing and assist the Police in their investigation. This is a call to service: not only for the country, but for themselves and their aiga (family) as well as the village and the community. 

By The Editorial Board 20 September 2022, 6:00AM
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