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Editor’s Letter Hawaii Five-0 Hits 100 Episodes 13 Disney Announces Hawaii-based Animated Film 15 Rocket Club Set for Takeoff

Spotlight on The Big Island 16 Wheel Dealer 19 Waikoloa Spins and Wins 20 Big Island Film Festival Celebrates 10 Years 22 Hawaii Transmedia Accelerator Showcase Draws Entertainment Industry Leaders 25 Diversity: The “Spice of Life” on Hawaii Island 29 Maui County Seeing Production Action 33 Kauai Film Update 2 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO


Under the Blood-Red Sun filming with a vintage car on the Roosevelt High School campus in Makiki near downtown Honolulu. PHOTO BY SHAWN HIATT

35 The Biggest Loser Films on Kauai 38 Music Video Shoots in the Islands

HIFF In Review 41 HIFF and Oahu Impress Oscar-Winning Producer Antoine de Cazotte 43 HIFF Crowns Award Winners 45 Local Filmmakers Celebrated at HIFF 47 HIFF Films Receive Nominations at Independent Spirit Awards 49 Aloha and Mahalo, Glen Larson 50 Spotlight on: Oahu Photographer Erik Ippel 53 Indie Beat: Under the Blood-Red Sun

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Lois Sanborn


The indie film Under the Blood-Red Sun, produced by Hawaii filmmaker Dana Hankins and directed by Tim Savage, shoots at a Nuuanu estate in Honolulu. Pictured are (L to R) Gus Downes, Matt Berner, Shawn Hiatt, and Franz Schmutzer. PHOTO BY DANIEL BAILEY

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Editor’s Letter


awaii experienced a relatively modest production year for feature films and television shows/series. This was especially true in the last quarter. But the decrease must be kept in perspective since the Aloha State had several continuously prosperous years prior to 2014. There were several productions of note this year, however. Oahu and Kauai play significant locations for Steven Spielberg’s third Jurassic Park sequel, Jurassic World, which opens nationwide June 12. Plot: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993), Isla


Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitors’ interest, which backfires horribly. Think genetically engineered dinosaur! On Oahu, JW filmed at Kualoa Ranch and Manoa Falls. Kauai spots included Lawai, Blue Hole, Manawaiopuna Falls in Hanapepe, and Olokele Valley. Also this year, Hawaii Five-0 entered that rarified Hawaii series stratosphere, celebrating its 100th episode in its fifth season. Peter Lenkov, the show’s executive producer and co-creator, declared the series “a certified hit.” (See story on page 9.) Wheel of Fortune made its fifth visit to Hawaii—its third to the Big Island’s

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Hilton Waikoloa Village. Harry Friedman, the series’ executive producer, said there’s “no location where the show has filmed that comes close to the natural beauty and spirit of Hawaii.” “We’ll be back, you can count on it,” Friedman said. (See page 16 for more.) As for rumors of 2015 production, there are faint whispers that location scouts “may visit Kauai” for yet another King Kong sequel. According to several Kauai production sources, however, so far nothing is definite. And on a sad note, this fall the Hawaii production community lost to cancer notable producer Glen Larson, who helped create Magnum, P.I. and One West Waikiki. Classify this into the “It’s About Time” file: In October, outgoing governor Neil Abercrombie released $100,000 to help state officials search for a new film studio location. The only state-run film studio is the two-decade-old 16,500-square-foot Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head on Oahu, currently home to CBS’s Ha-

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waii Five-0. The facility needs numerous repairs and can only handle one production at a time. Hawaii film commissioner Donne Dawson told a Honolulu publication that the first step for the state is knowing specifically what film and television productions need when they shoot in Hawaii. “There’s a strong need for additional infrastructure to support the growth and development of this industry in Hawaii,â€? she told the newspaper. “We know that. It’s abundantly clear. This is going to tell us what the market QHHGVLQPRUHGHÂżQLWLYHWHUPVDQGLWZLOO tell us the best place to build this facility.â€? There had been discussions and even some basic blueprints for several multi-million-dollar soundstages in Kapolei on Oahu. That was first announced in 2004 by SHM Partners. No one is saying whether Kapolei remains an option for a second Oahu studio. Kauai and Big Island film commissioners both believe that a state-run


studio in their counties would be the proverbial carrot for productions to at least do a scout. T. Ilihia Gionson, the Big Island’s film commissioner, said because of the island’s immense size, “we can accommodate a huge array of production requests.� Hawaii Five-0 filmed there in 2014 on Mauna Loa and in Kalapana Gardens on an old lava flow. According to state sources, any new studio—estimated cost between $30 million and $200 million—would be developed in partnership with a private enterprise. To illustrate the competition in trying to attract production, this fall California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that triples annual funding for the state’s film tax credit program. The law will boost funding to $330 million annually over five years,

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beginning in 2015. In comparison, the current level is $100 million per year. This legislation also will allow more projects to qualify for subsidies, including large-budget features and TV pilots, and phase out an unpopular lottery used to select applicants. Instead, projects will be selected based on how many crewmembers they employ. What a great requirement! Brown said one reason he signed the bill was to keep more work from leaving the state. And finally‌ Look for changes in the state film office’s annual locations permitting. The state is making “some adjustmentsâ€? to the new system, which were not ready for publication at press time. Hana hou! Tim Ryan Executive Editor

Your Hollywood Experience In Hawaii.

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Hawaii Five-0 Hits 100 Episodes

The Hawaii Five-0 team investigates a crime scene on Tantalus with Waikiki in the distance.

BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


n the first day of filming for season five of CBS’s hit series Hawaii Five-0, Peter Lenkov, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, sent a message to the entire cast and crew thanking them for their efforts—for working so hard in often difficult conditions, for their respect for one another, and for their aloha to the Hawaiian culture and people of Hawaii. He also mentioned that Five-0’s first episode of the fifth season not only represents a milestone for the primetime series, but also would be its 100th episode. Lenkov called the series a success and certifiable hit. Five-0 now joins three other Hawaiibased primetime TV series that reached the season five level: the original Hawaii Five-O, Magnum, P.I. , and LOST. That rare stratosphere amounts to a lot of very, very positive publicity for Oahu and

Hawaii. This season, the series also filmed on the Big Island, including on Mauna Loa, and last year filmed on Maui. More than 100 crew have benefited from regular paychecks, as have local businesses and vendors. In fact, several Oahu businesses reported a sales increase after being featured on Five-0 episodes. According to news reports, visitor numbers to the USS Missouri Memorial Association increased 25 percent. Waiola Shave Ice had a 20-per-

cent increase in shave ice sales and a 30-percent jump in T-shirt sales. Kona Brewing Company also saw a 60-percent increase in sales after their beers were featured as McGarrett’s favored alcoholic beverage in several episodes. Five-0’s viewership has remained consistent, from a low of 10.66 million viewers in season three to nearly 12 million in the past few seasons. Season five numbers are not yet available. Neither CBS nor Five-0 executives would comment on the show’s budget for each

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episode, nor each season. But sources have told Hawaii Film & Video Magazine that the budget is “about” $2.5 million an episode, “maybe a little more or a little less.” That means the 100 episodes alone represent $250 million. Several years ago the percentage of a production budget actually spent in Hawaii was calculated to be about 65 percent. That would mean the 100 Five-0 episodes equate to a $162.5-million spend in Hawaii. And the series is generating even more income for CBS and the series’ actors since this past summer TNT picked the show up for cable syndication at $2 million-plus per episode. Lenkov was so excited about reaching the 100th episode that he wanted to do something different. The showrunner reached out to CBS Television senior VP Amy Osler and then contacted one of his favorite musicians, Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik, hoping Lenkov speaks to cast and crew in the Five-0> “squad to get an unreleased song room” at the Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head.


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Hawaii Five-0 star Alex O’Loughlin slices the cake in celebration of the series’ 100th episode. To the immediate right of O’Loughlin is co-star Daniel Dae Kim and at left is co-star Grace Park. Far left: Peter Lenkov, Five-0’s co-creator and executive producer.

from his catalogue. But Ondrasik created a new song—titled “All for One”—which the singer said was inspired by the franchise. It was Ondrasik’s first time writing music for an episodic drama. The song debuted during the November 7 episode. HFV

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Disney Announces Hawaii-based Animated Film


alt Disney Animation recently announced their newest animated feature, Moana, to be directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog).

The film is described by Disney sources as a sweeping, CG-animated comedy-adventure about a spirited teenager on an impossible mission to fulfill her ancestors’ quest. The story: “In the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island. During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore.” Maui will be voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The role of Moana has not yet been cast. The storyline fits the definition of the Hawaiian word Moana, which means “ocean.” “John and I have partnered on so many films—from The Little Mermaid to Aladdin to The Princess and the Frog,” said Clements. “Creating Moana is one

of the great thrills of our career. It’s a big adventure set in this beautiful world of Oceania.” In a recent interview Musker said, “I grew up reading the novels of [Herman] Melville and [Joseph] Conrad. And the South Seas, the exotic world that a lot of their stories are set in, was extremely intriguing to me. Just looking at the art which comes out of that corner of the globe—the carvings, the statuary, the sculpture—I thought that it all begged for this bigger-than-life treatment that you can only get with animation. “So to expand on that idea, I then began reading up on the mythology of this area. Which is when I came across these incredible tales about Maui, who’s one of the great cultural heroes of the South Pacific.” That’s when Musker felt that a film could be found amid the promising potential. He and Clements pitched Moana to Walt Disney Animation Studios’ CEO

John Lasseter, who encouraged them to do some research. The pair traveled to the South Pacific two years ago, which Musker described as “two big research trips.” “Those trips have been revelatory and kind of life-changing in a way,” he said. “It made us take our very simple outline and rework the whole thing.” According to other Disney sources, Moana is a female-centric nature story along the lines of other recent successful Disney films like Frozen and Maleficent. Frozen had two lead female characters. According to industry figures, Frozen ended up grossing $400 million domestic and $1.274 billion worldwide, while Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent earned $240 million domestic and $757 million worldwide. “Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself,” Musker said. “She’s the kind of character we all root for, and we can’t wait to introduce her to audiences.” This is Disney’s first Polynesianthemed animated feature film since Lilo & Stitch (2002). Moana will be released in November 2016. HFV

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Rocket Club Set for Takeoff BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


he last time Hawaii Film & Video Magazine talked with producer/entrepreneur Dutch Hofstetter he was frenetically walking North Shore beaches or hustling back to his Soul Surfer production office at the Turtle Bay Resort. That was about four years ago. Since then he has relocated to Paris and helped produce three other independent films, Two Tickets to Paradise, Field of Lost Shoes, and Hoovey. In January, Hofstetter returns to Hawaii to join the Soul Surfer team of Brookwell-McNamara to produce another indie film, Rocket Club, written by screenwriter and longtime North Shore resident Bobby Davison. Davison will direct and play the lead role in the $3- to $4-million feature. Filming locations are as diverse in climate and terrain as one can imagine: Oahu and Maine. Pre-production on Oahu begins in January, followed by filming for the entire month of March on the North Shore. Rocket Club then relocates to Maine for a two-week shoot. Hofstetter and Davison describe the story as a boy’s love, admiration and regret for his father within lives strained by illness, early death, and adolescent bullying. Said Hofstetter of screenwriter/director Davison, “Bobby is an upstart from the North Shore, a sort of Hawaii Sylvester Stallone. He was around Soul Surfer and had done some work on LOST and Last Resort. He’s interested in filmmaking and acting.” After completing his script, Davison contacted studios and “wealthy individuals so I could at least start funding the film,” he said. He eventually reached out to

Executive producer Dutch Hofstetter (at center in sunglasses) behind director Sean McNamara (dark blue shirt) on set of Soul Surfer<.

Hofstetter, asking the producer to read his script. As Davison went through the tedious task of raising funds, he began texting Hofstetter for advice. “I needed someone to guide me through this because it was the same sort of thing he had been up against (with Soul Surfer), having to start from the ground up,” Davison said. “After I read Bobby’s script I realized it really was like a ‘Sylvester Stallone in Hawaii’ kind of story,” Hofstetter said. “The script was simple, not flowery. I was shocked that this was from a first-time writer.” Davison also reached out to an unlikely person for advice: actor Scott Caan, who plays “Danno” on the CBS series Hawaii Five-0. Davison had worked on Five-0 as a camera PA. “He was the warmest, most welcoming guy about this,” Davison said. “He invited me to his house where we talked about the story. Then he took the actual screenplay to read it. I was very surprised.” Another surprise came the next morning. “At 6:30am he called to say he had read it that night,” Davison said. “He gave me

all these unbelievable notes and suggestions. That was a huge confidence builder for me to really move Bobby Davison, Rocket forward.” Club screenwriter and Davison, orig- actor. inally from the Northeast, said many of the characters in Rocket Club are patterned after people he’s met in Hawaii. Yet despite the quality of the script, Hofstetter knew firsthand the difficulty of “chasing money” for an indie film. “I told Bobby, ‘good luck, enjoy your children and Hawaii,’” he said. After a couple of years passed, Davison let Hofstetter know that he had gotten some funding. “When a guy says, ‘I’ve funded my movie and I want you to produce it because I don’t trust anyone else,’ you have got to listen and reconsider,” Hofstetter said. “You don’t raise three to four million bucks overnight.” The Hawaii crew will be “100-percent local,” Hofstetter said. HFV Rocket Club will be released in either the fall of 2015 or early February 2016.

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The Big Island

Wheel Dealer BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


o how is that volcano doing?” Harry Friedman asks from his Sony Studios office in Culver City. “Any more houses gone?”

Friedman has a lot more issues to deal with than what’s happening in a remote section of the Big Island more than 2,000 miles away. Friedman is one of television’s most prolific producers, having produced more than 6,000 episodes of the two most enduring and successful syndicated programs of all time, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! What’s the secret to Friedman’s success? It’s his ability to maintain the tradition of the long-running shows, while tweaking 16 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO

each just enough to keep them current and on the cutting-edge. Wheel has been on TV for nearly 32 years. During that time the game show has broadcast in Hawaii five times, including three times at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, most recently in October 2014. “Of course I love Hawaii,” said Friedman. “As corny as it probably sounds, there is something about the aloha spirit that captivates us.” Friedman said there are no plans for Wheel to stop filming in Hawaii—likely it will remain at the Hilton Waikoloa—despite the logistical difficulty and expense, which is about $6 million. That $6 million pays for staff, crew, equipment and prize money. “If costs were not an issue we would

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Wheel of Fortune executive producer Harry Friedman (center in glasses) talks to the show’s star Pat Sajak on the set at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. (bottom right) The “wheel” being assembled.

probably go every year,” Friedman said. “But it’s probably the best government (state and county) and private business partnership that Wheel has ever enjoyed.” The Hawaii taping also is the “most logistically challenging for every conceivable reason.” Everything the production needs has to be shipped, at least everything that is customized for Wheel of Fortune, Friedman said. “Contrary to what some people think,

we do not have a travel puzzleboard or an additional wheel,” he said. “There is only one of each so we entrust our entire key assets to the good folks at Matson (freight shippers) and hope for the best.” With all the expense and logistic issues, why does Friedman still want the show to tape in Hawaii? “We get a place like no other,” he said. “There’s no place I can think of that could

say (their location) is kind of like Hawaii. There is no ‘kind of like Hawaii.’” Friedman fell in love with the Big Island in 1987 when he first stayed at Waikoloa shortly after it opened. After that, he said, “I had always had my eye on the property that someday I wanted to do a show there.” The first Waikoloa-taped Wheel was in 1996.

Waikoloa management had been agreeable to playing host to Wheel but wanted the producers to tape in one of the resort’s many ballrooms. “We said no, that’s not what we had in mind, to be inside,” Friedman said. “We wanted to show the outdoors, which had never been done before. And we couldn’t tape it outside during the day because of the sunlight. It wouldn’t have been possible

32 SECRETS FROM 32 SEASONS OF WHEEL 1 Wheel of Fortune has been trademarked as “America’s Game®.” 2 When Wheel of Fortune won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 19, 2011 in a tie with Jeopardy!, executive producer Harry Friedman became the first-ever producer to tie himself in an Emmy category. 3 Executive producer Harry Friedman holds two Guinness World Records for having the most Emmy nominations and wins of any game show producer—40 and 12, respectively. 4 Since its syndication debut in 1983, Wheel of Fortune has awarded more than $200 million in cash and prizes to its contestants. 5 On May 30, 2013, Autumn Erhard became the biggest winner on Wheel of Fortune by winning $1 million in the bonus round and taking home a total of more than $1.03 million in cash and prizes. 6 Since the introduction of the Million Dollar Bonus wedge in 2008, there have been 3 contestants who have each won $1 million. 7 Over 120 million Americans have never known a world without Wheel of Fortune. 8 More than 10,000 people try out each year and fewer than 600 lucky contestants are selected to appear on the show. 9 Since 1988, Wheel of Fortune has taped on location a total of 63 times, in 27 different cities. 10 Pat Sajak received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994 but there was a mistake on the tribute. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce placed a film camera on the star instead of a TV set. This has since been corrected. 11 Wheel of Fortune has been produced “locally” in 45 territories including Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam, Panama and Estonia. International broadcasters license the format rights and produce the show in their own language. 12 The puzzleboard contains 52 touch screen monitors, 12 across in the top and bottom rows and 14 across in the two middle rows. 13 The Wheel is equipped with over 200 computerized lighting instruments capable of up to 2 million different color choices. 14 There are 73 stainless steel pins on the Wheel that fly past three hard rubber “flippers,” giving it an unmistakable sound. 15 Wheel of Fortune was a sponsor of the 1996 Olympic Games. That year, Vanna White and Pat Sajak each carried the Olympic Torch on different legs of the domestic relay. 16 While the show was taping in Seattle, one man spent three

days painting a replica of The Wheel on Seattle’s Space Needle in water paint. Luckily it didn’t rain! 17 The first letter Vanna ever turned on the Wheel of Fortune puzzleboard was a “T.” 18 The price of a vowel hasn’t changed in 30 years. It’s still a bargain at $250. 19 Pat Sajak is from Chicago, Ill., and Vanna White is from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. 20 The Bonus Wheel contains 24 prize envelopes. 21 Wheel of Fortune announcer Jim Thornton has done voiceover work for Disney’s Monsters Inc., The Drew Carey Show, Celebrity Death Match, Rugrats and The Soup. 22 Vanna has worn more than 6,000 different outfits while at the puzzleboard. 23 Thirty years ago, there were only six puzzle categories. Now there are 46. 24 Wheel of Fortune’s original name was Shoppers Bazaar and included a wheel that was upright and featured carnival sound effects. 25 On any given tape day in the studio, more than 100 staff and crew are hard at work behind the scenes. On remote, there are over 200 local staff and crew in addition to 160 staff and crew from Los Angeles and other cities. 26 Wheel of Fortune tapes five to six shows in one day, with Pat and Vanna changing wardrobe between each taping. 27 Wheel of Fortune is taped at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif. on stage 11. Jeopardy! tapes right next door on stage 10. 28 The studio audience seats 160 people who watch two to three episodes being filmed during their visit. 29 A random selection determines whether a contestant will be in the red, yellow or blue position at the Wheel. 30 Off camera there is a TV monitor that indicates for Pat how many times a chosen letter appears in the puzzle. In the early days of the show, someone from the production sat off-camera and held up their fingers to signal to Pat. 31 Since there is only one Wheel and one puzzleboard, they are both dismantled and reassembled whenever the show travels to tape in a different location. 32 Pat has spun the Wheel more than 6,000 times. He gives the Wheel a final spin during each episode and sometimes lands on Bankrupt. Fans at home will never see that, however, since it is edited out in post-production. hawaiifilmandvideo.com • ISSUE FOUR 2014


WHEEL OF FORTUNE IN HAWAII REFERENCE GUIDE What: Wheel of Fortune was in Hawaii with co-hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White, as well as the entire Los Angeles-based crew. to see the puzzleboard.” The day before the first shows would be taped—the production does four a day— heavy rain nearly flooded the set. “We were out there the next morning with as many towels that we could commandeer, wiping up water on the stage,” Friedman said. “But we were fortunate; that was the only rain we had on that shoot, so we got past it.” Wheel’s first visit to Oahu was in 2001 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort in Waikiki. Friedman said the production would love to return there. “A lot of our crew spent almost a month on Oahu setting up,” he said. “We took up a lot of the beach area in front of the hotel, so I don’t think (Hilton) is able to accommodate us and give up their beach for that long a period of time.” Be it Waikiki or Waikoloa, Wheel’s ratings for the Hawaii shoots have always been some of the show’s highest of the year. Ratings for the first week of the Big Island tapings were the highest of the season. Wheel qualified for the Hawaii state tax credits this year and in 2008. “Donne Dawson and (then-Big Island film commissioner) John Mason worked with us very closely in making sure we did everything right (to qualify),” Friedman said. “It’s more than the percentage alone that’s important, but to have people like Donne work with us to make sure as much as possible that we do qualify legitimately for the credits.” Friedman said Wheel’s continued popularity has much to do with hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White. “They certainly wear well,” he said. “When you invite someone into your home for nearly 32 years, they’re certainly good guests.” Can Wheel survive without Sajak and White? “I don’t want to find out,” said Friedman. HFV 18 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO

2014 Shoot Dates: Sept. 13-14, 16-17 to tape four weeks of shows. Place: Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii Island. Crew: Over 200 local Hawaii staff, crew and production assistants; 195 staff and crew from Los Angeles and other cities. What Wheel Brought: 14 tractor-trailer rigs for set, lighting and rigging and approximately one million pounds of equipment; one 65-foot mobile production truck. Technical Stats: • 12 miles of power cables • 3 miles of camera fiber cables • 6 miles of fiber optics video cables • 5 miles of audio cables • 6 miles of video cables • 18 channels of video servers • 14 High Definition cameras • 10 High Definition videotape machines

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• 140 color monitors • 320 record video tapes Additional Info: • Wheel of Fortune employs more than 120 local security officers, ushers and police for the event. • 2,000 room nights were booked for Los Angeles-based staff and crew. • This trip marks the fifth time Wheel of Fortune has taped on location in Hawaii. It is the third taping at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii Island. The other two tapings were at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. • Along with all of the living plants and trees that were on set, the art department had 5,292 square feet of synthetic grass to cover the stage floor. • To protect the beautiful grounds, nearly 20,000 square feet of ground protection was installed so that the property could be restored to its former beauty after production wrapped. • The Wheel, puzzleboard and all of the equipment were loaded into 40 containers and trailers that took 7 days to travel by cargo ship to Honolulu. From there, they traveled on a barge to Kona.


The Big Island

Waikoloa Spins and Wins BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


heel of Fortune’s third visit to the Hilton Waikoloa Village this past fall was the perfect storm for the popular Big Island resort.

“This year the resort’s conference center was under renovation in August and September so we knew we wouldn’t have any group business and lots of rooms available,” said Leanne Pletcher, the Waikoloa’s director of public relations. “It really was the perfect scenario for the hotel because we could provide a lot of room nights and we could also offer room packages to the Wheel Watchers Club members and kamaaina who just wanted to come to see the taping.” Pletcher, who’s been at the Waikoloa Resort for 12 years, also worked with the Wheel production staff in 2008. The Wheel production crew is a small and very well organized army of about 300 who were based at the resort for more than a month. That translated into 2,000 to 3,000 room nights. “We tried to centralize the crew and executive staff in our Ocean Tower that’s nearest to where the stage is,” Pletcher said. “We didn’t really offer that area to guests because they might not be interested in Wheel of Fortune.” In 2008, when the resort’s then-general manager received a call from Wheel executives saying that they wanted to return to Waikoloa for the first time since 1996, the GM “immediately recognized the opportunity for the tremendous exposure for the

resort” and the Big Island, Pletcher said. The resort wasn’t nearly as concerned about disturbing its guests as you might expect. “More often than not the guests are excited about the show being there where they can watch,” Pletcher said. The planning this time around began a year before Wheel would begin filming. “I received a call (from a Wheel executive) in June 2013 saying they wanted to come back…” she said. The two parties had a contract in place by that September. “There was very little hesitation from the resort because we’ve always had such great experiences with them in 2008,” Pletcher said. “And we had a lot of support from the Big Island Visitors Bureau, Hawaii County and the Waikoloa Beach Resort. “Because of the show’s tremendous viewership, it would bring a lot of exposure to the entire island, not just the resort.” Despite Wheel’s successful record of filming at Waikoloa, resort executives still need to quantify the value it receives. That includes factoring in the lower room rates it offers the production, and meals, of which the production pays a portion. Crew meals were set up in the resort’s Palm Terrace restaurant. “But the crew also spent money while here, bringing over their families, eating in

our other restaurants, and enjoying our other activities,” Pletcher said. The 2014 production visit was simpler than 2008 because “we had done it before,” Pletcher said. “We were prepared,” she said. “And they knew all the players on the island from having shot here before, too.” Further smoothing out the production invasion is that many of the Hilton Waikoloa employees had been there for the 1996 Wheel show. “That staff knew the routine so it made it much less complicated the third time around,” Pletcher said. The most challenging aspect of housing the production was keeping the Waikoloa staff’s momentum going. “The production is here for so long and the constant high energy to keep everything working is tough,” Pletcher said. The production tapes for four weeks, five days a week, from 6am to midnight. “It’s exhausting for everyone.” Pletcher was the primary go-to person for the production and Waikoloa staff. So Pletcher moved into the hotel for the production’s duration, working 12- to 14-hour days while continuing her regular resort duties. “Wheel of Fortune is a first-class, professional production, which makes them such a pleasure to work with,” she said. “They make all of us feel like we’re part of their family.” Pletcher admits that she and her husband watch Wheel nightly at home. “I’m actually pretty good,” she said, laughing. “But when you’re in your own living room, it’s pretty easy.” HFV

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The Big Island

Big Island Film Festival Celebrates 10 Years BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


decade ago, Leo Sears, the founder and executive director of the then-new Big Island Film Festival based in Waikoloa, was all bright smiles but also visible nervousness with a line of perspiration across his brow.

Sears’ eyes darted back and forth as he watched the outdoor venue being set up, while simultaneously taking phone calls from two different mobile phones and also trying to answer this reporter’s questions. “I have never organized or run an event like this, ever,” he told Hawaii Film & Video Magazine back then, hours before the festival’s first screening. Volunteers scrambled back and forth between indoor and outdoor venues; technicians methodically set up projectors, speakers, lights and amplifiers. “I trusted that the techs were on top of their craft,” Sears said. And they were, as prepared and in control as was possible. 20 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO

But the weather did not cooperate. An hour before the first outdoor movie would begin, a gusty north wind—that means cold—started blowing, eventually reaching a steady 20 mph. The temperature dropped to the mid-60s—that is considered cold in Hawaii at sea level. Sears sprung into action, making sure that speaker stands and lighting were securely anchored and that the portable screen was made taut. The wind howled, sometimes blocking out the film’s dialogue and music. About 20

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people—dressed in long pants, sweaters and jackets—braved the weather to watch the now long forgotten film. “Nothing you can do about the weather,” an exhausted Sears said later that night. “The weather report was wrong; it just came out of nowhere.” That first festival lured less than 50 souls to a variety of films, seminars and events. But last year’s Big Island Film Festival—the ninth annual event—attracted more than 2,400 filmophiles, an all-time record. “Obviously this was what I was hoping for all along,” Sears said. “But when we had such a slow start that first year, you have doubts. But we have grown by leaps and bounds, even with a down economy. We’re here to stay.” The festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking that includes features and shorts from Hawaii and around the world, as well as filmmaker workshops, celebrity receptions and salutes, a charity fundraiser, and the awards brunch. Closing night is the “Best of the Fest,” an opportunity to show the Audience Choice feature and short films one more time, and to celebrate the music of Hawaii. A new celebration this year is the “tasting event” called “10 Chefs for 10 Years.” The venue has yet to be determined. BIFF also has added a feature film screenplay competition that will have three semi-finalists. The overall winner will have his or her script sent to Paradigm Agency in Los Angeles for representation consideration. Judges will include professional script readers based in Los Angeles, and the overall winner will be selected by notable screenwriter Rod Osborn (Meet Joe Black, The West Wing, Night Court). There are three different film screening venues: The Shops at Mauna Lani, Lehua Theatre, and Plantation Estates. The Grand Opening on Thursday, May 22, happens at the Family Films venue—The Shops at Mauna Lani center stage. Short

films begin at 7:30pm. Beach chairs are welcome. This event is free. The Family Films stage will also feature family-friendly screenings Friday through Sunday at 7:30pm. Daytime Films are shown indoors at the newly renovated and air-conditioned Lehua Theatre at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii. Daytime Films are presented Friday through Sunday in two-hour blocks of narrative features and/or shorts. Parking is free. Festival Films are presented at Plantation Estates (next to the tennis pavilion) at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii. There are nightly double features and shorts, a no-host bar, gourmet pupus and other refreshments, Friday through Sunday at 7:30pm. Plantation Estates is lawn seating, so bring your beach chairs or blankets. Some chairs available for visitors without beach chairs. You may bring your own snacks, but no outside liquor or ice chests. “Best of the Fest” takes place at Plantation Estates on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26. Willie K will perform in the late afternoon, followed by the Audience Choice feature and

we prefer to wrap the festival in the spirit of aloha.” The number of films to be shown this year has not yet been determined, but in years past they have ranged from 52 to as many as 64. The event schedule, the celebrity attendees, and more will be announced in March. HFV

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW short at 7:30pm. There are several reasons why BIFF has prospered over the past 10 years, Sears said. “We have had some quality films of which many have won awards with us or have won awards at other festivals,” he said. “So we know we have a good product, as far as the films are concerned.” Another reason for the festival’s success is that BIFF is “an event where the audience can actually mingle with the celebrities and filmmakers that we have. “We don’t have a red carpet because

WHAT: Big Island Film Festival WHEN: Memorial Day Weekend, Thursday, May 21 - Monday, May 25, 2015 SPONSORS: The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, The Shops at Mauna Lani, Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Hawaii INFO: Phone: 808-883-0394 Fax: 808-883-0254 Email: bigislandff@aol.com

hawaiifilmandvideo.com • ISSUE FOUR 2014



The Big Island

Hawaii Transmedia Accelerator Showcase Draws Entertainment Industry Leaders


roducers and writers from Hollywood blockbusters such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Tarzan and Superman Returns were drawn to the first GVS Showcase, held in partnership with GVS Transmedia Accelerator (GTA), Creative Lab and Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), recently at the new Honua Studios in Kona, Hawaii. Having completed the six-month intensive program, the five companies selected to be a part of the inaugural GVS Transmedia Accelerator class shared their newly developed businesses with entertainment industry leaders, potential investors and aspiring storytellers. In keeping with the intended focus of the Accelerator, the five Hawaii-based companies have developed their projects for commercial audiences across a variety of transmedia platforms. “With the dynamic changes facing our industry, unique and healthy models for content development are a necessity for future success. This new model has enabled our cohorts to work with talent from around the world in creating transmedia franchises,” said founder David


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L. Cunningham. “Today we are thrilled to showcase the GVS Transmedia Accelerator debut projects from beautiful Hawaii.” Representing the first company, Michael Lienau, of Ring of Fire Films, presented the 3D IMAX project Hawaii Islands of Fire 3D, a 45-minute large format film accompanied by an interactive app and educational materials. With historical dramatizations, spectacular scenery and unforgettable eruption footage, Hawaii Islands of Fire 3D reveals the aloha and mystery of Hawaii as never before. Following, Nalani Choy, entrepreneur and award-winning singer/songwriter, pitched her interactive website and app, Hawaii Virtual Vacations. Using the latest in 360-degree videography and augmented reality, this innovative and user-friendly portal will enhance the tourism industry by allowing visitors to virtually explore and tour Hawaii’s many activities, sights and accommodations. Bookings will also be possible within the app. The third project shown was Kite Kids: Legend of the Aloha Stone. Written by Joey Rocha and Tab Murphy, Kite Kids is a family/ adventure feature film franchise about a group of young kiteboarders on Maui who must win the national kiteboarding competition in order to save the family business. Dr. Andrew West (previously of Discovery Channel’s Hogs Gone Wild) then shared his vision for Hawaii Wild Side, a high paced outdoor adventure television series highlighting animal and human interaction within the bounds of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Dr. West, a marine biologist and environmental scientist, co-hosts the series with Jeff “Gunny” Guilloz, a retired Marine and hunting guide. The final project showcased was Jack London’s Ko’olau the Leper. Written by filmmaker John Fusco (Young Guns 1 & 2, Marco Polo) and based on the writings of legendary storyteller Jack London, this transmedia franchise includes an action-adventure feature film, a comic series and a music album. “As a longtime film producer, I’m privileged to join this group of industry visionaries in providing development resources and guidance to these showcase franchises,” said Ralph Winter, producer (X-Men, Fantastic Four) and Accelerator mentor. “I look forward to seeing how these projects impact a worldwide audience.” In addition to showcasing the five cohort

projects, the evening featured a creative expo of local industry companies, a screening of the Hawaii International Film Festival feature documentary Rise of the Wahine, and a collection of Made in Hawaii Shorts. Event attendees also had the opportunity to gain insight on the latest industry trends during six concurrent panel discussions and workshops featuring industry leaders. These included the aforementioned producer Ralph Winter; executive producer and former president of Columbia Tristar, Chris Lee (Jerry Maguire, Valkyrie); screenwriter Tab Murphy (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan); digital innovations entrepreneur and former vice president of innovation and technology at Starbucks, James Snook; producer Grant Curtis (Spider-Man Trilogy, Oz: The Great & Powerful); founders of iformata, Scott and Rebekah Allen-Devaux; Frank Tate (MTV, Super Franks); entrepreneur Mike Frank (Pepsi, Disney); entrepreneur Lance Priebe (founder, Club Penguin); producer Michael Palmieri (Six Days Seven Nights, Dora & Diego’s 4D Adventure); producer Edwin L. Marshall (To End All Wars, Walter’s Flying Bus); producer Steven Okin (To Write Love on Her Arms); and entertainment attorney Kevin Mills. Mayor Billy Kenoi was on hand and stated, “This is one of the most important projects that I have been a part of in my six years as mayor.” The showcase event was made possible through collaboration between GVS Transmedia Accelerator, the State of Hawaii Creative Industries/DBEDT, Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation, the County of Hawaii, HIFF, Small Business Administration, Hawaii Growth Initiative, Big Island Visitors Bureau, and Big Island Gigs. HFV

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The Big Island

The “Spice of Life” on Hawaii Island BY KEITH NEALY Guest Columnist


y formula for success on Hawaii Island is all about diversification. Not as in a financial portfolio, or celebrating the many cultures that live here, but in career skills.

Hawaii Island is a very interesting place to work in film and television because of a wonderful variety of spectacular locations. And it can be very challenging if you’re a specialist and do only one thing. Fortunately, I have been in this business since I was 13, spending the better part of the next 40 years in New York City learning many film and television crafts on my way up the ladder. Finally landing on Hawaii Island in 1999, Keith Nealy Productions (KNP) has worked on a wide variety of projects, from features, documentaries, commercials, corporate projects, Hawaiian cultural films and even opera. I am fortunate to work with a lot of high-end productions that come here to Hawaii and also get to travel the world— have passport, will travel—which helps with “rock fever.” To show you how diverse my work can get, in the past year I also directed About Face: An Opera Experience, in San

Francisco with two operas which included my original libretto of Mister Merrick about Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, and the American cult classic, Face on the Barroom Floor. I also designed and programmed innovative theatrical sets with multi-screen video projections. But Hawaii is also the land of the freelancer and I also contract out as a director, DP/ cinematographer or even as a location sound recordist. For years, there were only two soundmen on the island with professional equipment and the required experience to handle the rigors of broadcast TV or film, and two years ago my colleague finally went to San Francisco where he found more steady work. Unlike a more urban environment like New York City or Honolulu, I find that diversity is the spice of life here in paradise. I also eat more regularly. So, let me give you an idea of the range

of projects we’ve done in the past year and what’s available on Hawaii Island, whether you’re a potential client or a young filmmaker ready to hang out your shingle. As a full-service production company, Keith Nealy Productions was one of the first companies to bring the RED Digital Cinema camera system to Hawaii and has a complete 5K RED Epic-X with a host of professional accessories, lenses and rigs. We also have Nikon HDSLRs and even 4K GoPros to capture a wide range of high-resolution images. We have dollies, jibs, a Glidecam stabilizer, 56K lighting, chimera soft boxes, as well as hot lights and grip equipment. We even partner with a local three-ton grip truck for larger shoots. We have professional sound packages with Lectrosonic wireless, Sound Devices mixers, Sennheiser booms, etc., and we regularly work on shows for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, PBS, ABC and more, so we have to have professional gear and keep it in perfect condition. There is no rental house on Hawaii Island and helping off-island clients gear up and manage expectations can be a job in itself. With everyone dealing with tighter budgets these days, it is especially hard on Hawaii Island crew to have the right gear in well maintained condition and be competitive with mainland price expectations. I find that good, honest communication and well-defined agreements with clients can help most situations. Shooting on Hawaii Island is not like L.A. or New York or even Honolulu. You can’t just run to the rental house for a longer lens or a larger HMI light. Pre-production planning and managing expectations can be the difference between a frustrating experience and a shoot in paradise. This past year we’ve had the good fortune to work on a great diversity of film and television projects and have made a lot of friends by helping reduce their stress, by treating clients with aloha, and by being a local “tour guide” for foreign crews as

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we travel the island. I’ve created so many cultural productions that I can keep everyone entertained with the local history and lore. And it pays to know your way around the island, the best restaurants, etc., and having contacts everywhere to make things happen. Clients are usually surprised at the size of Hawaii Island and find out that their shooting schedule may be a bit ambitious when considering travel times and weather


considerations on the Hilo side. I’ve spent many a night with producers revamping the next day’s shooting schedule. We had an advertising agency from Phoenix contract us for a RED Epic shoot of a Hyundai television commercial, putting four different Hyundai cars in ten scenic locations on Hawaii Island and Maui in just two days, including all travel. We incorporated major dolly and track shots, Dana

ISSUE FOUR 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

dolly shots, jib shots, traveling shots with a stabilizer from a moving vehicle, and slo-motion beauty shots, and had a very happy client and a crew celebration for a job well-done. The Ironman Triathlon Championship brings a host of clients each year. We shot RED Epic slo-motion shots of NFL football stars for the “Get Chocolate Milk” campaign and triathletes using Garmin bike computers. I’ve worked on crews from England twice this year and the Brits are by far my favorite to work with. They are very professional, creative, and we work long hard hours but the shoots are very low stress and everyone seems to have a great sense of humor, making it a joy to be part of such a great team. One shoot was for the new BBC series How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World, where we focused on (pun intended) “lenses” from eyeglasses to telescopes. So, naturally we spent considerable time filming in and around the Keck Observatory on top of Mauna Kea with its environment of freezing temperatures and low oxygen content.

The other British crew I had a great time with was on The Making of North America, a PBS three-part series about the natural history of the geology, plants and animals of North America, presented by Kirk Johnson, the director of the Smithsonian Museum. We filmed spectacular geology formations deep inside an old (hopefully) 55-mile-long lava tube that traverses deep underground from Kilauea to the sea. I also shot and directed a segment of a Golfing Life-style show with star Wendy Pelligrino from Chicago. We shot on the links of the Kohala resorts and shot RED Epic slo-motion of golf pros on the Mauna Kea golf course classic par-3 signature third hole over the crashing waves to the

green at sunset and also on the hotel’s manicured grounds and lavish interiors. There were many other varied exciting projects, from producing and directing a six-camera shoot of the “Champions of the Mic” Reggae concert at the Aloha Tower featuring the original stars of reggae, to being an associate producer and second unit RED cameraman on a feature film about complex personal relationships of two young couples, all taking place on a yacht. My years of experience sailing and filming on the Makali’i Polynesian voyaging canoe has taught me unique skills for filming on Hawaiian waters and I am just beginning another major film for Na Kalai Wa’a on the 25-year history of the Makali’i—a canoe and ohana very near and dear to my heart. And another very satisfying area for me is my work on films about climate change, such as Jim Cameron’s Years of Living Dangerously for Showtime and Project Earth Orbital Power Plant for Discovery, as well as shooting and directing a film about Hawaiian conservation practices for Conservation International.

Before I came to Hawaii, I’d also wore another hat as a corporate communications consultant for decades working with AT&T, Exxon, American Express, Federal Express, and many others. I am now also a communications consultant to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group in the UK and recently created presentations shown at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, as the world grapples with abrupt climate change. And, as the world and Hawaii heads for an uncertain future, I have dedicated part of my time to using my expertise and production skills to help create awareness and shape the future. Recently I did a TED Talk on the “Impact of Climate Change on Hawaii” and was also co-creator of the Hawaii Climate Summit in Honolulu. Working on Hawaii Island isn’t easy and it has its many challenges, but the trade-off is I get to live in paradise with the most loving people in the world and I get to share Hawaii with so many film crews and work on so many creative productions. And I get to make a difference. How cool is that? HFV

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ISSUE THREE 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

Maui County Seeing Production Action BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


aui County, under new film commissioner Tracy Bennett, attracted several productions to the Valley Isle in 2014, as well as studios and networks interested in filming there in 2015-16.

Most recently, Sony Music and Nashville’s Tacklebox Films shot a Kenny Chesney music video for more than a week in November. The video, featuring Maui’s Gretchen Rhodes, was filmed at several locations, including La Peruse Bay. Chesney met Rhodes in the Virgin Islands while she was sitting on a stool playing music. “The thing about Gretchen is that she had this voice that you could hear in a room,” Chesney said. “When she’d sing, people would turn around to see who it was… and she could keep folks there all night, just listening to her songs. I know: my friends and I used to go down to this beach bar a lot and listen to her play.” Chesney recorded Life On A Rock in London, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Nashville before he traveled to Hawaii to add Rhodes’ vocals to the album. Also filmed on Maui was The Inquis-

itor, an independent action-adventure feature. The film shot for 10 days— October 21 through November 1—in locations such as the private Twin Falls area (Upper and Lower), at Makawao’s Wailele Farms, Lono Ridge, and the Old Maui High School. Filming was also done in Los Angeles. The story: A troubled millionaire with masochistic tendencies travels to the jungles of Peru in pursuit of a reclusive artist, but soon finds himself consumed by an evil spirit responsible for the decimation of the Incan empire. So Maui is doubling for the jungles of Peru. Directed by Harry Lockett IV with DP Sean Addo, the film stars Vernon Wells as the Inquisitor, Robbie Allen as Jon Davenport, and Maui’s Branscombe Richmond as the character Shiniki. Richmond is also listed as producer and stunt coordinator. Riley Dandy portrays

the protagonist’s love interest Elizabeth Carlisle. Blum Productions and Code 10 Productions are the studios. “The shoot was very successful,” film commissioner Bennett said. “We had amazing cooperation from homeowner Leona Wilson and the Twin Falls owners in allowing the crew access to their properties…” MTV producers scouted Maui for a week this fall looking for a hip, high-end residence to shoot their popular series Are You the One? According to the MTV website, the Hawaii filming is a go for six weeks beginning in early 2015, but the decision as to which island remains undecided. According to the website, “Are You the One will send a group of 20 perfectly matched singles to Hawaii to spend one month getting to know each other more by doing challenges and spending time together.” The show will have a mix of 10 men and 10 women who are matched for each other and give them the chance to win $1 million. Also in 2014, Victoria’s Secret did a five-day photo and video shoot with several models in Hana, Maui, that included supermodel Candice Swanepoel at one of Hana’s famed black sand beaches. Meanwhile, Maui-based Ehman Productions was quite busy, working on 13 pilots this year, 2 of which were picked up, and working on several episodes of existing programs. Other projects for Ehman Productions in 2014 included music videos, convention/industrial projects, photo shoots, sporting events and commercials. Some of their notable clients throughout the year were Subway, Nissan, Toyota and Oculus Rift, among many others. Ehman also worked on the feature film Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon with director Mike Myers, as well as several Discovery and Travel Channel productions. The company has at least four projects lined up for early 2015. In other Maui news, Sony Pictures executives and producers of the big-budget, long-awaited feature film Uncharted are expected to make a decision “soon” about shooting on Maui in July-August

hawaiifilmandvideo.com • ISSUE FOUR 2014


2015, sources said. Sony has had trouble getting the massively popular video game to the big screen. David O. Russell was once attached to direct, and there was even talk that Mark Wahlberg, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci would be part of the cast, but that never happened. Seth Gordon (King of Kong, Identity Thief) has signed on to direct the movie, but Sony still needs a leading man and a new script. The planned release date is June 2016. The Uncharted plot: A descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake, a treasure hunter named Nathan Drake, believes he has learned the whereabouts of El Dorado, the fabled South American golden city, from a cursed golden statue. The search becomes competitive when a rival hunter joins the fray. Sony has hired Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal, the driving force behind Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker. Boal, a fan of the video game, reportedly will help continue to see the

studioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision of Uncharted as a swashbuckling Indiana Jones-type adventure. Other possible productions in 2015 include: â&#x20AC;˘ A feature ďŹ lm titled Law of the Jungle is considering Maui ďŹ lming in early 2015. â&#x20AC;˘ The much delayed feature ďŹ lm Ethyrea: Code of the Brethren is â&#x20AC;&#x153;moving along nicelyâ&#x20AC;? producers have told ďŹ lm commissioner Bennett, though no ďŹ lming dates have been made public. This reportedly $100-million-plus production may be the most hyped possibly-Hawaii-bound production in Maui County history. Ethyrea locations reportedly will be Louisiana and Maui. Ethyrea, written by book author Danica Fontaine, is â&#x20AC;&#x153;home to a race of elemental warriors known for their unmatched mastery of sorcery and might. Besieged by an evil queen and her army of nightmares, The Brethren undertake a perilous quest to track down the pieces of remembrance.â&#x20AC;?


Ethyrea is also the name of the production company, based in San Raphael, California. There are 10 producers attached to WKHÂżOP7KHGLUHFWRULV9LF$UPVWURQJ Finally, a Maui production update: the Point Break remake of the 1991 cult favorite will be released July 31, 2015. 6WRU\$\RXQJXQGHUFRYHU)%,DJHQW LQÂżOWUDWHVDJDQJRIWKLHYHVZKRVKDUHD common interest in extreme sports. Point Break stars Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, and Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Identity) DVWKHÂżOPÂśVSURWDJRQLVW%RGKL Back in January 2014, the production ÂżOPHGVXUIHUVULGLQJVSHFWDFXODUWR IRRWZDYHVDW0DXLÂśV3HDKLVXUIVSRW 3DXO$WNLQVRI2DKXZRUNHGDVDVHFRQG unit camera operator. The original Point Breakâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s budget was about $24 million. Worldwide gross was DERXWPLOOLRQ,QVLGHUVSODFHWKH UHPDNHÂśVEXGJHWVRPHZKHUHEHWZHHQ $90 million and $110 million. 7KH0DXLSUHSDQGELJZDYHÂżOPLQJ reportedly cost more than $1 million. HFV

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ISSUE FOUR 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

Kauai Film Update A BY ART UMEZU Kauai Film Commissioner

loha from Kauai! As I mentioned in Hawaii Film & Video Magazine’s previous issue, the final quarter of 2014 had Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World filming on the Garden Isle.

The production’s total spending for the two-week Kauai shoot has not yet been tallied. However, with MTV’s Are You the One? reality show filming here for two months in the last quarter of 2013, the series spent about $4 million. Total 2014 production spend on Kauai for JW and Are You the One? will be in the $10- to $12-million-plus range, surpassing the combined total for the last three years, 2011-2013. Fiscal year 2015, which began July 1, has already generated nearly $2 million in production spending with 16 productions filming here. These include three reality shows (HGTV, NatGeo); five television commercials (Oceanic Time Warner, Eddie Bauer, Mauna Loa Candies, Hawaiian Airlines); two print ads; two educational films; two documentaries; and two travel-related Japanese TV shows (BS Japan, Nihon Television). The National Geographic Television reality show shot for more than three months from mid-August to early December. At press time, two additional reality shows (Travel Channel) were slated to film in December 2014, while Animal Planet had already secured a location to shoot in April 2015.

In November location manager Randy Spangler spent five days scouting Kauai’s dense tropic jungles and unspoiled terrain for an upcoming feature film. Seattle-based filmmaker Robert Burke of Jump Shot Films, who filmed the indie film Endeavor on Kauai in 2013, returned to shoot B-roll to finalize the release of the movie in late 2015. The Hawaii International Film Festival returned to Kauai in November to show 18 films—including Rise of the Wahine, which won the Audience Award at HIFF Honolulu—at two venues, the historic Waimea Theater and St. Regis Hotel in Princeville. Kudos to Sue Kanoho, executive director of Kauai Visitors Bureau, for her ardent support of HIFF, and to HIFF’s director, Robert Lambeth, who added eight more films from the original plan of 10 for Kauai. HFV

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ISSUE THREE 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

The Biggest Loser Films on Kauai

Filming at Waimea Canyon, Kauai.


he adventure, culture and natural beauty of Kauai shined on NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Glory Days when the remaining six contestants on the hit show pushed themselves to new limits in paradise in December.

The special Kauai episodes aired on Thursday, December 18, and on New Year’s Day, Thursday, January 1. The first Kauai episode showcased the iconic Waimea Canyon. That episode also featured an intense workout on one hawaiifilmandvideo.com • ISSUE FOUR 2014


Contestants on The Biggest Loser.

of Kauai’s beautiful white sand beaches, as well as a kayaking competition. The winner was rewarded with a private helicopter tour of the island. The weigh-in for the first episode took place at the picturesque Kauai Marriott Resort at Kalapaki Beach, a destination the contestants reached by paddling outrigger canoes. In the second Kauai episode, contestants made resolutions to ensure 2015 is their best year yet. Contestants were challenged out of their comfort zones by rappelling down a cascading waterfall with Da Life, or by rope swinging with Just Live! in a tropical forest. They also learned how to make healthy, island-inspired tacos, before partaking in a lacrosse-style obstacle course on a privately owned ranch. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), along with the Kauai Visitors Bureau, assisted in bringing the show to Kauai. “Collaborating with NBC’s superb 36 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO

Host of the show Alison Sweeney and Director Neil DeGroot at Waimea Canyon, Kauai.

production team to develop these challenging competitions and tell the contestants’ stories has been a great experience from beginning to end,” said John Monahan, HVCB’s president and CEO. “The contestants now know what an inspiring destination Hawaii is, and millions of viewers will too.” “Kauai was the perfect place for us to film because it provided adventure

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as well as beauty,” said Joel Relampagos, executive producer of The Biggest Loser. “Those are two things that our contestants experience in their journey with The Biggest Loser and Kauai is very symbolic of that.” HFV For more information on this season of The Biggest Loser, visit NBC.com’s official show site.


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Music Video Shoots in the Islands Filming at night on Kauai.



oomsday Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production company, traveled to Oahu and Kauai in June to film a music video for recording artist Childish Gambino, also known as actor/comedian Donald Glover of the NBC hit show, Community. It was directed by award-winning music video and commercial director, Hiro Murai. I was the producer for the project. I was born and raised on Maui and have been producing commercial content in Los Angeles for the past seven years. This was my first time shooting professionally in Hawaii. This music video for “Telegraph Ave” originated as a conversation between Hiro and Donald. They’ve been collaborating over the past year on a series of videos for the latter’s album, Because The Internet. The video concept is a tropical romance with a shocking mythological plot twist. The video opens with Donald and a love interest—played by R&B singer Jhene Aiko—waking up in the morning after spending a night together.


Actress Jhene Aiko (left) and recording artist and actor Donald Glover (center).

We follow the couple exploring a lush island while they’re falling deeper in love. When night arrives, the pair builds a beach fire and eventually walks back through a forest to return to their vehicle. But suddenly a car strikes Donald, then two gun-toting local islanders warn his lover of a danger. But Donald is not dead, and we witness him actually transforming into something. I was chosen for this project because of my Hawaii connection. I selected Oahu for the complicated ending. Then production traveled to Kauai to do the remainder of the video. Hiro wanted some rural roads and landscapes in the video so I selected Kauai for these visuals.

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Our first task on Oahu was to find a location for the crucial and complicated ending scene. Hiro and I circumnavigated the island for three days stopping at every park and beach along the way. One destination was Dillingham Ranch on Oahu’s North Shore, which is where we eventually shot. (I was tipped off to the location by searching some LOST fan sites on the Internet.) Then we traveled to Kauai for another scout. We worked with local line producer Angela Tillson. Hiro and I fell in love with everything on Kauai’s east side as we nerded out driving through areas made famous by Jurassic Park and other storied films. The only other big piece in our locations puzzle was Donald’s bedroom for the opening of the video. Using AirBNB, we found the absolutely perfect house. It took some convincing before the owner accepted our proposition, and we even added a performance where Donald just dances and raps the song on the owner’s balcony that overlooks Moloa’a. The nearby Moloa’a Sunrise Fruit Stand was also used for a pivotal scene. Then we returned to Oahu to meet the rest of our Los Angeles crew: 1st AD, DP, camera department, steadicam, and gaffer. We also brought Oahu native Elise Velasco, a frequent collaborator of ours in L.A. She

Actress Jhene Aiko prepares for filming.

was our costume designer and also oversaw the art department on the video. Our night shoot on Oahu was especially ambitious. Hawaii Five-0’s Jeff Cadiente was our stunt coordinator; Archie Ahuna (LOST) did special effects and rigging. Jessica Cole served as line producer. Then it was back to Kauai for filming in Moloa’a and later Maha’ulepu for night

A crewmember prepares a car for a steadicam.

shots. The final scene was a bonfire. When we finally wrapped that scene, a storm appeared, blowing rain and sand. It was our only experience with inclement weather. The production was especially special for me because I could work in my home state and bring my closest collaborators with me. I am deeply indebted to the entire Hawaii-based crew, who were top-notch.

I’m excited about returning to do more work in Hawaii. Where else can I get legitimate loco mocos on a catering truck and talk pidgin on a walkie? HFV Check out the final video of “Telegraph Ave” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3f-eDzkxcw. See more of my work at my website, www. jasonbaum.com.

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HIFF In Review

HIFF and Oahu Impress OscarWinning Producer Antoine de Cazotte BY WALEA CONSTANTINAU Honolulu Film Commissioner


or those who had the opportunity to meet the world-class filmmaker and Oscar-winning producer Antoine de Cazotte at the many events he participated in at the 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), they would never guess what his initial thought was about coming to the U.S. from France in the 1970s—“Lost in this big country!” he exclaimed.

The executive producer/UPM of The Artist, which received five Oscars including Best Picture in 2011, was the keynote speaker of the HIFF Creative Lab Producers Accelerator program sponsored by the City and County of Honolulu Film Office, as well as a celebrated New American Filmmaker by the Vilcek Foundation. The native of Paris said, “In the 1970s, coming from France, I thought ‘America takes such a large space of the planet and France is so small… I will be lost there.’ I went to college in California to earn a business administration degree at a time when there were no emails, no cell phones and flying cost a fortune, which meant you could not easily go back home. Immigrating today is less dramatic, it’s a different mindset, you are not completely disconnected.”

That adventurous spirit and desire for an unconventional lifestyle would lead him to becoming a filmmaker who works on projects around the world, including four shot in Antarctica (two documentaries and two features) and Oceans, the ambitious global project that took four years of filming to complete. At the Producers Accelerator presentation at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on November 5, de Cazotte gave a master class in tenacity when he talked about the challenges he encountered when mounting a shoot in an ultra-remote location. He underscored the importance of building a good team when crewing up for a project and developing a talent for knowing when to take action and when to exhibit patience when problem-solving. A serendipitous meeting with de Cazotte at the Cannes Film Festival would give me

the opportunity to work with HIFF to invite the notable producer to Honolulu. “I really had a great experience!” he said excitedly to “everyone when I got back home [to Los Angeles] who were also pleasantly surprised to hear all about it.” de Cazotte is the French Representative for the Producers Guild of America. “I told everyone at the PGA meeting the other night about the festival and my experience,” he said. “It was such a surprise when I was there—so much culture happening. Honolulu became the center of the world. I was moved by the way people were dedicated to HIFF, the incredible program—astounded really by what was presented… what a selection—wonderful! And how [the staff] were doing their job so well. Everyone I met was so welcoming and giving of their time and professional. It all felt really good.” When asked if it might be the Aloha Spirit, he said enthusiastically, “I had not experienced anything like it, so maybe!” In addition to speaking at numerous festival events, de Cazotte was able to meet local industry professionals and take a day to scout the island to get a sense of what Honolulu and Oahu have to offer as a shooting locale. His overall reaction: “Good people, some amazing places… and realized it’s not that far from Los Angeles. If I had an appropriate script, I would look there to shoot.” HFV

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ISSUE FOUR 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

HIFF Crowns Award Winners


he Halekulani Golden Orchid Award is the crown jewel for filmmakers at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), and 2014 was no different. The Golden Orchid is given to narrative and documentary films that best express artistic and technical excellence and promote cross-cultural understanding, said Robert Lambeth, HIFF executive director. Each nominated film furthers HIFF’s mandate to entertain, enlighten and empower. An international jury selects films that articulate this manifesto consistent with the cross-pollination of words, ideas and images that comprise the kinetic and visceral power of film. Now the awards: The Halekulani Golden Orchid for Best Narrative Feature was awarded to director Shim Sung-bo for his film Haemoo. Haemoo is the debut from director Sung-bo, who, judges said, shows enormous potential for raising even further the profile of Asian and Pacific Rim cinema on the world stage. They described the film as visually arresting, riveting and compelling, displaying both technical excellence and a strong emotional core. The film simultaneously addresses universal questions of human nature and morality, and more specific issues, like corruption, economic inequality and immigration, said jurors. “With its strong commercial appeal, Haemoo is in the position to raise consciousness about human trafficking, its causes and terrible consequences.” Haemoo is also South Korea’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The jury also honored the thriller feature film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night with honorable mentions for director Ana Lily Amirpour and lead actress Sheila Vand. The jurors said that the film confirms Amirpour as “a strong, incredibly original and imaginative new voice in American cinema. She has also given the world its first skateboarding hijab-clad female vampire, wonderfully embodied by actress Vand, whose performance is spellbinding.”

HIFF In Review

The Golden Orchid for Best Documentary Feature was awarded to We Are the Giant, directed by Greg Barker. The film explores recent protests around the world, each buoyed by predominantly young participants and social-media organizing, that have exposed repression and led to regime changes. “We Are the Giant grapples with perhaps the most difficult question of modernity and so humanely captures the delicate turning point between non-violent activism and armed conflict,” judges agreed. “The film’s power lies not only in sharing powerful stories from the Middle East, but also in showing us that even here in Hawaii, our participation in local activism is a profoundly important exercise to be engaged in,” said judge Wei Fang. This year’s NETPAC Award went to Kanu Behl for the narrative feature Titli. Said judges, “Kanu Behl’s drama of a young man’s plot to escape from his violently criminal family is not only an extraordinarily realistic, tensely told tale of Delhi’s underworld, but a nuanced, original, clear-sighted look into how human bonds are forged—and the human soul tested—in the dark crucible of money and fear.” Founded in 1990 by Cinemaya and UNESCO, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Asian film throughout the world. HFV

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Local Filmmakers Celebrated at HIFF

HIFF In Review


awaii International Film Festival (HIFF) once again showcased a large selection of locally made films highlighting the homegrown talent Hawaii has to offer. Sponsored by Flux Hawaii, “Made in Hawaii” is HIFF’s annual celebration of the best local films of the year: a collection of features, documentaries and short films that showcase the diverse cultural landscape of Hawaii. With the advent of digital filmmaking there has been an increase of indie production in Hawaii as new media makers emerge every year, tackling the challenging world of DIY distribution. The following films were highlighted: ‘Ike: Knowledge is Everywhere Director: Matthew Nagato The future of our children, health, and society will depend on how we meet the defining social challenge of our time: developing a quality, comprehensive education system. In this emotional, intimate sequel to Ola – Health is Everything, students, teachers, and advocates share stories of hope and triumph that kindle the fires of our determination to build a vibrant, healthier world. Iolani Palace: Restoration & Hawaii’s Past Today Director: The Friends of Iolani Palace, George Tahara In 2014, ‘Ulu‘ulu, with generous

support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, preserved and digitized 49 motion picture film reels from the Friends of Iolani Palace collection. These films, which have not been viewed in over 30 years, document the decade-long restoration of Iolani Palace from 1969-1979 after it had fallen into disrepair and used as government offices during the various governing eras of the Provisional Government, the Republic of Hawaii, and the Territory of Hawaii. Rise of the Wahine Director: Dean Kaneshiro This is the amazing story of the fire and perseverance that drove underdogs to birth Title IX and release untold opportunities to an entire generation. Centered around the University of Hawaii’s volleyball team, these women (and men) lit a profound desire for girls to have the

same opportunities as men—in education, sports, and jobs. Women’s roles were about to change from “housewife” to educated-producer. Title IX was the door to get them there. Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson Director: Ty Sanga Pinky Thompson thought bigger than himself and further than the single cause at hand. He fought hard against the stigma of an inferior Native Hawaiian. A multifaceted cultural identity was the key to their ultimate survival. He championed a healthcare system, created invaluable educational programs and strengthened the pride of Native Hawaiians. He envisioned an ideal Hawaii that no one else saw and fought for it from the battlefields of Normandy, down the steps of Congress, to his humble home in Niu Valley. HFV

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HIFF Films Receive Nominations at Independent Spirit Awards


HIFF In Review

everal films from the Hawaii International Film Festival’s 2013 and 2014 film programs have been honored with Independent Spirit Award nominations.

As the first event to honor independent film exclusively, the Film Independent Spirit Awards has become the premier awards event for the independent film community. It’s a celebration of the spirited pioneers who bring a unique vision to filmmaking. The Spirit Awards ceremony also brings together top talent from Hollywood and throughout independent film. Awards are presented for the year’s best achievements in independent film, with statues given for Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best Feature Made for Under $500,000—the John Cassavetes Award—and more. In keeping with its Los Angeles roots, the Spirit Awards takes place each year in and around Santa Monica, California. Currently in its 30th year, the award ceremony will be held February 21, 2015 and broadcast live on IFC. The Independent Spirit Awards is held a day before the Academy Awards telecast. The list of HIFF films that have received nominations for the upcoming

Independent Spirit Awards include: BEST DIRECTOR Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Director: David Zellner BEST FIRST FEATURE A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Director: Ana Lily Amirpour Producers: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah Obvious Child Director: Gillian Robespierre Producer: Elisabeth Holm

Man from Reno Writer/Director: Dave Boyle Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman Producer: Ko Mori BEST FEMALE LEAD Rinko Kikuchi Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Jenny Slate Obvious Child BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Lyle Vincent A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Desiree Akhavan Appropriate Behavior JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive producers are not awarded.) Blue Ruin Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier Producers: Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD (The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s.) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

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Aloha and Mahalo, Glen Larson BY TIM RYAN Executive Editor


f you said producer/singer/entrepreneur and frequent Hawaii visitor Glen A. Larson was larger than life, you just might be underestimating the extraordinary talent and drive he had.

Larson, a singer in the 1950s cleancut pop group The Four Preps—hits included “26 Miles Across the Sea” and “Big Man”—and creator of some of the best known primetime shows, including Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider, died in November of esophageal cancer at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. He was 77. Larson loved Hawaii and visited here often. He always visited friends, especially concert promoter Tom Moffatt. Larson was a frequent guest at Moffatt concerts, often arriving backstage with a bottle of wine or champagne. In 2012, Larson and Hawaii Five-0 producer Peter Lenkov sat down with Hawaii Film & Video Magazine to talk story about the television business in the Larson and the Lenkov eras. Larson joked about filming Magnum, P.I. at the old Hawaii Five-0 soundstage, where the productions had to turn off the air conditioning in the building because there was no soundproofing to stop the roar. “Hell, we were just happy to have a soundstage, any soundstage,” Larson said. Larson noted that in those Magnum days there also were no state tax incentives to film in Hawaii. Larson deflected a question about Magnum’s budget, saying, “That’s a question for Universal.” Later in Larson’s career, when he did the first Battlestar Galactica series, “the per-episode budget broke the $1-million bar,” he said. “The studio acted like it was heresy,” Larson said. “The studio wanted to string us up. Hell, Universal still claims Magnum, P.I. is in the red!” Larson loved being a producer.

Glen Larson’s star on the famed Hollywood Boulevard.

“It’s just fun; the most fun you can have,” he said. “I used to feel so honored just to drive through the studio gates. So I would stay ridiculous hours because I was afraid they might take away my parking spot. But I also wanted to get into the business for the money.” He joked, “Universal would never actually give it to you, but you could visit it. You couldn’t take it off the lot.” Larson also wrote and produced for other noteworthy series, including ABC’s It Takes a Thief, starring his fellow Hollywood High School alum Robert Wagner as a burglar now stealing for the U.S. government, and NBC’s McCloud, with Dennis Weaver as a sheriff from Taos, New Mexico, who moves to Manhattan to help the big-city cops there. With Lou Shaw, Larson conceived Quincy M.E., about a murder-solving Los Angeles medical examiner. A forerunner to such “forensic” dramas as CSI, the series ran for 148 episodes over eight seasons on NBC from 1976-83. CBS’s Magnum, P.I. featured Tom Selleck as a charismatic Ferrari-driving private instigator based on Oahu. That show also aired for eight seasons (198088) with 162 installments. Larson created that ratings hit with Donald Bellisario. NBC’s Knight Rider, starring David

Hasselhoff as a crime fighter aided by a Pontiac Trans-Am with artificial intelligence (K.I.T.T., voiced by William Daniels), lasted four seasons and 90 episodes from 1982-86. And ABC’s Fall Guy, with Lee Majors as a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter, prevailed for five seasons and 113 episodes spanning 1981-86. Quincy, Magnum, Knight Rider and Fall Guy accounted for 513 hours of television and 21 combined seasons from 1976-88. Other shows Larson created included Alias Smith & Jones, B.J. and the Bear, Switch, Manimal and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. During a 2009 interview with the Archive of American Television, Larson was asked how he could possibly keep up with such a workload. “I tried to stay with things until I thought they were on their feet and they learned to walk and talk,” he said. “If you believe in something, you must will it through, because everything gets in the way. Everyone tries to steer the ship off course.” Larson, an only child, was born in Long Beach, California. He became enthralled with the art of storytelling while listening to radio shows. After his music career with The Four Preps, Larson pursued a career in television and sold a story idea for a 1966 episode of The Fugitive. Larson then wrote an episode of It Takes a Thief, and within the short span of a season he went from story editor to producing the series. Larson described his television shows “as enjoyable with a pretty decent dose of humor. All struck a chord in the mainstream. What we weren’t going to do was win a shelf full of Emmys. We got plenty of nominations for things, but ours were not the kind of shows that were doing anything more than reaching a core audience. I would like to think we brought a lot of entertainment into the living room.” HFV

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Erik Ippel on location on Oahu

Spotlight on: Oahu Photographer Erik Ippel


very young Erik Ippel’s life changed when a friend gave him a Kodak film camera and he started taking surfing photos.

Ippel’s dad was in the United States Navy and the family moved around a lot, including Annapolis, Monterey, Virginia, and Honolulu, where his dad worked at Pearl Harbor for six years. Ippel learned how to surf at about nine years of age at White Plains beach near his home at Barber’s Point. “I would take shots of guys surfing and my dad would take the film to some guys on his ship to develop it,” Ippel said from his North Shore, Oahu, home. “I would sell the surfers (the photos) for $25.” Ippel admitted he wasn’t a very good student in the core high school subjects but received all A’s in the photo class. 50 HAWAII FILM & VIDEO

When he learned about the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara—an area that’s also home to some of California’s best surf—he said, “I knew I had to go there.” It was a fortuitous decision. During his time at Brooks and after graduation Ippel was mentored by one of the legends of surf photography, Dan Merkel, whom he later worked for. One of his projects for Merkel was to build a stock library of still images that were all on VHS tapes. “He paid me to go through all of his footage and circle the best shots from every single tape for a promotional reel of his best shots,” Ippel said. “I learned so much.” Ippel later worked with other highly respected water cinematographers, including Mike Prickett, Ron Condon and Larry Haines. In 2004 Ippel was nominated by Surfer magazine’s Surfer Poll Awards for best cinematography for his work in the

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Ippel preparing for a shoot.

movie Islands in the Stream. Ippel, who moved to Oahu about 14 years ago, is considered by his peers to be a master of action sports film and still photography. In recent years, out of pragmatic necessity, he began building his own camera water housings and fixed camera mounts. “I started making water housings for cameras I couldn’t afford to buy then, but

Ippel going underwater.

Ippel captures a spinner dolphin in flight.

that I could borrow while I built the custom housings,” said Ippel, who now owns a $30,000-plus Red Epic camera. “But I am a photographer first. I make water housings because they are what I need to do my water work.” Ippel says his Red camera housings are “tighter, smaller and very well thought out.” Ippel’s numerous clients include Sony, Billabong, Quicksilver, the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore, Surfer and Surfing magazines, the former Board Stories Oahu-based television show and magazine, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. HFV For more information, contact Ippel at 808-375-7468 or ippelfilms@ gmail.com.

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ISSUE FOUR 2014 • hawaiifilmandvideo.com

Filming in Central Oahu.

Indie Beat: Under the Blood-Red Sun LOW-BUDGET FILM GETS A BOOST FROM LOCAL CREW BY DANA HANKINS Producer, Under the Blood-Red Sun


hy do I produce low-budget movies… and “coerce” my friends into helping me?

After years of producing/supervising on many high-profile, big-budgeted features, I produced and premiered the low-budget, labor-of-love adaptation of Graham Salisbury’s youth novel Under the Blood-Red Sun in September at the Hawaii Theatre. While looking out over the thousand-plus invited guests, I was overwhelmed by the realization that not only were the majority of them intricately involved in the movie’s production, but that they were paid only a fraction of their standard wages or rental fees—and yet they showed up on set daily anyway. Without these people, I would have failed in this third and final attempt to

Under the Blood-Red Sun author Graham Salisbury, actors Aida James, Kimi Nakaji, and Jake Davis, director Tim Savage, and actors Tomikazu “Tomi” Nakaji and Taro “Papa” Nakaji.

bring this book to the screen. So why did they sign up to work daily on the movie’s production, knowing how perilous—inadequate planning, limited supplies, indecision, long hours—a low-budget production can be? They sign on to low-budget productions for community—the connection to the history, people, geography, cultural beliefs, the magical realism of the islands—because they want to see the lives we live in these islands represented in what we can produce ourselves, to tell our stories, and then share the result with

the world’s community. The opportunity to share this local perspective doesn’t happen much on the bread-and-butter films and television series—except for Hawaii Five-0. Those projects sustain us financially, allowing us to work on low-budget labors-of-love. Oftentimes, we alternate—one inbound project for financial and career advancement, and the other for sharing our stories, our connectedness, and our beliefs. Crewmembers join a project like Under the Blood-Red Sun for many reasons; sometimes it’s a story that speaks to them, or a story they want to share with their kids and grandkids. This story deals with prejudice and bullying and discrimination, which hopefully offers a lasting lesson for kids working out what kind of people they want to be when they grow up. The crews sign on to have pride of ownership, to mentor those less experienced who will be on set to fill out the crew positions that everyone else has

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turned down. A first-time crewmember isn’t daunted by the low wages, as he/she benefits from experienced crewmembers who pass along skills, knowledge and production set protocol to this next generation. They sign up because they want to work with the director, because they believe that the producer (in this case me) will provide them with the opportunity to leave a lasting impression in a project of great value. After years of moving millions around on spreadsheets and moving hundreds if not thousands of crew, cast, vendors and talent around—why make a low-budget movie? Why list Under the Blood-Red Sun so proudly on my CV, which includes Hollywood features like Stakeout, Bird on a Wire, Wargames, etc.? There’s one all-important answer: the story, the production, the island setting and the mentoring all have greater meaning and offer bigger rewards than financial gain. I get to make a story I love with collaborators I love working with and I get to do it in the islands. And if the best I can offer is peanuts, I


know exactly why they’re in it with me. Under the Blood-Red Sun enjoyed a terrific premiere week, with public screenings at the Pacific Aviation Museum, the Arizona Memorial Theatre, and the Honolulu Academy of Art. The book

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has been in circulation for 20 years, with an estimated readership of three million, including its use in middle-school curriculum. The film is available at www.underthebloodredsun.com. HFV

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