By Art Umezu
Kaua‘i Film Commissioner
LIHUE, Hawai‘i (Jan. 10, 2014) — Kaua‘i’s film industry is alive and well!
In 2013, Kaua’i hosted 36 productions totaling $4.4 million compared to $1.3 million in 2012 and $1.2 million in 2011 with 27 and 29 productions, respectively. Productions included: an independent film; four TV reality shows; dozens of TV travel shows; documentaries; commercials; and print ads.
The biggest production was MTV’s “Perfect 10” (working title), which included 10 episodes of its new dating and romance reality show. Producer Travel Light Entertainment brought a cast and crew of 120 and employed 40 local hires during its six weeks on Kaua‘i. Expenditures for this project was nearly $4 million. The premier titled “Are You the One?” is slated to air on Feb. 21.
Kaua’i was abuzz for a short while early last year when a Hollywood scout spent several months on island searching for potential locations for Jurassic Park 4. News recently surfaced, however, on official sites and blogs announcing that JP4 (now called “Jurassic World”) will be filmed in Louisiana and Hawai‘i this year with exterior scenes to be shot on Kaua‘i.
Two episodes each of HGTV’s (Home & Garden Television) reality shows “House Hunters” and “Hawai’i Life” were filmed on the Garden Isle in 2013. The shows are about mainland couples and families finding dream homes in Hawai‘i. Check out their Kauai shows later this month – “House Hunters”, Jan. 15 and “Hawaii Life”, Jan. 24. The other episodes aired last month.
A locally-produced reality show “Saving Lives” was created and filmed last year by the husband and wife team of Serge and Jennifer Marcil. The show is about Kaua‘i’s Junior Lifeguards and features a number of Kaua‘i’s talented youth.
In February and March, the cast and crew of an Indie movie titled “Endeavor” spent three weeks on Kaua‘i. The show was produced by Jump Shot Films of Seattle and is set to premier this summer.
TV commercials that captured the serenity and beauty of Hanalei and the North Shore include: Maui Jim (expenditures totaled $150,000); HMSA; Hyundai and First Hawaiian Bank. In July, Tommy Bahama did a fall fashion shoot for a print ad. TV crews from Germany, Japan and England also spotlighted Kaua‘i, while a crew from Australia filmed a live broadcast of NBC’s “Today Show Australia” from Kalapakī Beach and Princeville.
Kaua‘i continues to attract Japanese productions including travel shows and documentaries. Last March, TBS (Tokyo Broadcast System) filmed “Best Hotels”, an exclusive 90-minute TV travel show filmed on high definition and aired on BS channel (broadcast by satellite) to millions of viewers around the world. The show featured Ocean Resort Villas at Westin Princeville; St. Regis Hotel at Princeville; Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort and Koa Kea Hotel in Po‘ipū. In May, a beauty tip episode for “Good Morning Japan” was also filmed on Kaua‘i.
A film crew for NHK (Japan Public Television) spent three weeks on Kaua‘i in October and November and produced “Earth’s First” (Chikyu Ichi), a 60-minute documentary about Kaua‘i’s abundant rainfall. The show featured Mt. Waialeale; Alakai Swamp, and the impact of rain on taro growers and other farmers; and offered advice on how to manage and survive flood conditions. It aired nationwide in Japan in December.
Last February, a crew spent five days scouting Kaua‘i locations and resources for a Japanese movie titled “Rain” (working title), which is based on a short story by one of Japan’s most prolific writers Haruki Murakami. Recently, a press release about “Rain” now called “Hanalei Bay” announced that Hawai‘i producer Jason Lau (“Tempest” and “Beyond the Break”) was contracted to write the English script for the movie.
Kaua‘i also attracted many high-profile Japanese magazines including: “Dazzle”, a lifestyle, fashion and business publication for successful business women; “Scape”, which is geared for parents of college students; and “Agora”, Japan Airlines’ inflight magazine for its executive class passengers, all which covered movie locations on Kaua‘i. Agora had 12 full pages of movie locations on Kaua‘i including “The Descendants”; “Pirates of the Caribbean”; “Blue Hawai‘i” “Jurassic Park”;“Thornbirds”; “King Kong” and others. The newly updated “Resort Kaua‘i”, Japan’s largest travel guidebook, has six pages exclusively about movies filmed on Kaua‘i.
Other film-related news in 2013
After a seven year hiatus, Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) returned to Kaua‘i in October with 16 feature and independent films at three venues: historic Waimea Theater, Kukui Grove Cinema and St. Regis Hotel in Princeville.
One of the highlights was the screening of Hawai‘i-made movie, “The Haumana” which showed at Waimea and St. Regis Hotel to packed houses. Both screenings included a Q&A session with the writer, director and actor Keo Woolford.
“The Haumana” won the Audience Choice award as HIFF’s best narrative film. Robert Lambeth, deputy director of HIFF and Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau were key supporters in bringing HIFF back to Kaua‘i. Lambeth was recently named as the new executive director for HIFF, succeeding Chuck Boller who will become director of fundraising for HIFF.
“The Kaua‘i Movie Book” by Chris Cook was updated for the first time since it was published in 1996. The new edition has more than 30 pages of photos and information about the most recent movies filmed on Kaua‘i including: “Soul Surfer”; “Tropic Thunder”; “Avatar”; “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”; “Just Go With It” and “The Descendants”.
Hawai‘i’s film commissioners along with film commissioners from around the world attended the annual AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International) Locations Expo and Tradeshow held in Los Angeles in June. The event offers commissioners the opportunity to market their respective film destinations to hundreds of filmmakers and producers from Hollywood and other parts of the globe.
With the five percent increase approved by the State Legislature last year in refundable production credit across the board for all film productions in Hawai‘i, the neighbor islands now offer a 25 percent refundable credit on qualified film expenditures with a minimum of $200,000, while O‘ahu has a 20 percent tax credit. Hopefully, this will translate to more productions coming our way!