Hawaii Film Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

10 Things I Learned From Our First FilmHawaii Seminar

I learned a lot at the Hawaii Film Office's first FilmHawaii Seminar last Thursday on "Protecting Hawaii's Locations." With the help of moderator and state film commissioner Donne Dawson, expert panelists Jackson Bauer and Sandi Ichihara (my co-workers at the film office), Dan Quinn of Division of State Parks, Mawae Morton of Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division, and Irish Barber, a local production veteran who stepped up and joined the roundtable discussion after Jim Triplett had to back out for emergency "Lost" scouting, shed a lot of light on the do's and don'ts of shooting in Hawaii. Here are 10 things I learned at the seminar:

1. Film permit applications come in 2 types: annual permits for photographers and videographers who do high-volume year-round shooting (tour group photos, scenics/stock, weddings, model portfolios, etc.), and standard permits. Either of these types of permits may be requested for "pre-approved" filming activities at "open-accessible" sites like Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach on Oahu and Wailea Beaches on Maui.

2. Local location managers and production managers/coordinators often serve not only as location guides but as de facto cultural guides to visiting productions. For example, when Antoine Fuqua wanted to shoot part of "Tears of the Sun" at Iolani Palace (where filming is generally forbidden), local production vet Irish Barber (who also happens to be Native Hawaiian) told him the story of the palace and its deep importance in Native Hawaiian history. After hearing Irish's story, Fuqua backed down and instead dressed Ali'iolani Hale across the street (where, by the way, a time capsule buried by King Kamehameha V in 1872 was discovered last week) to look like an African embassy-like building. (Though that was not without controversy either.)

3. Most state locations are free to use, but fees are charged at the following locations: $100/day for airports, harbors, and highways under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Transportation, and for small boat harbors, launch ramps, and beaches under the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation; and $500/day for locations that fall under the Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands.

4. Kamehameha Schools, the largest private landowner in Hawaii, is seeking to expand the availability of its properties to film and TV productions through its Land Assets Division. Those for you interested in filming on Kamehameha Schools land should contact Mawae Morton at remorton*at*ksbe.edu.

5. About 600 state film permits are processed per year, and most of them involve multiple locations, each requiring individual attention and approval. (Note that this does not count county permits and shoots at private locations).

6. A common local tradition is to invite a kahu (Hawaiian priest) to perform a blessing on the first day of filming at a particular location to ask for permission for the use of the site and protection from injury during production.

7. Jet skis, which are allowed by special permission and subject to strict rules and specific locations, are generally a pain in the ass because they cause lots of noise and are otherwise a public nuisance.

8. Productions who ignore rules and regulations and disrespect the land suffer repercussions like fines and blacklisting.

9. Productions often "give back" to the communities in which they shoot. For example, the "Lost" crew recently offered to clean up the grafitti that recently turned up at Kapena Falls, a sensitive historic location.

10. The Hawaii Film Office and its sister state agencies often work closely with filmmakers to accomodate their particular production needs and circumstances. We're film-friendly here in Hawaii!

For those who want to learn more than just these 10 things, we've videotaped the whole seminar and are working on making it easily accessible to those who are intererested. Check back to see when and how you can watch/hear the whole seminar.

And stay tuned for our next FilmHawaii Seminar on "Act 221 & Film" tentatively scheduled for late January...

FilmHawaii Seminar: Protecting Hawaii's Locations
>> Culture Clash
Meet the Hawaii Film Office!
Meet the County Film Offices
Permits, Hawaiian Style
Importing Animals to Hawaii
Forbidden Shoot
Hawaii as San Fran, NYC, UK, Oz, etc.

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