Insight

Peter’s inspiring path from redundancy to award-winning filmmaker

Peter Tautua is a former labourer who, after being made redundant during the COVID-19 pandemic, pursued his passion for film by studying at SAE. During his studies at SAE, Peter created Dearest Madeline, an original song and music video, which was based on his mother’s experience of domestic violence. The video has gone on to win a Sony Film Festival Award and an SAE International Award.
Worried woman on phone

Back in 2019, Peter was working as a labourer at an airline, while fulfilling his passion for music by doing gigs around Brisbane. Like many in the aviation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, Peter was made redundant.

“I was jobless and had no direction with where I was going with my life,” Peter said. “I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an advert from SAE, and that was when I started to invest in myself and study what I was passionate about. I am so grateful for my time at SAE, the experience and learning were priceless.”

Dearest Madeline, which features the vocals of Aye Blocc, Valle, and Keniye Moale, is a soul R&B project that is close to Peter’s heart, given it was based on his mother’s struggle with domestic violence.

“It’s a pretty intense account of what my mother went through,” Peter explained. “The video also represents the demons my father had, his battle with alcohol, and finally getting the help he needed.”

“I spoke to my parents before I started the project, and they were both supportive of it,” Peter added. “Even though they are no longer together, my father, who has since rehabilitated, can see the lasting effect domestic violence has had on his family – he doesn’t want his granddaughters to go through the same experience.”

The main driving force for Peter and the completion of Dearest Madeline was his daughter. “I wanted to create something for her to be proud of,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of labouring during my life, and I just wanted her to be able to say her dad did that.”

The project was created as part of Peter’s Diploma of Film coursework at SAE Brisbane. The lecturers, he said, provided him with the support he needed to get the project off the ground.

“The staff at SAE helped me to put together a structure for the music video, because it was all over the place in the beginning. I was writing a script for what was essentially a short film, and at the same time I was composing the song, so there was a lot going on.”

Dearest Madeline has gone on to be recognised around the world, at the inaugural Sony Film Festival, in the music category, to more recently at the 18th annual SAE International Awards in Germany. The annual awards celebrate the best alumni and student work from SAE’s 48 campuses around the world.

Peter with his SAE International award

“It was awesome to be recognised and acknowledged for all the hard work I put it, as a lot of emotion went into it,” Peter admitted. “It just makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Today, Peter is a digital content producer for the Queensland Reds rugby union team. For up-and-coming students who wish to make a career in the creative industries, Peter shared some sound advice on how to follow in his footsteps.

“Don’t have any regrets, take risks and find out what you enjoy doing,” he said. “Everyone has a story to tell, just be your authentic self – if you don’t try, you’ll never know where you could end up!”

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