Hawaii Film Blog

Monday, March 20, 2006

Respecting Host Cultures While Filming

Over the weekend, news came out that a Mescalero Apache family in New Mexico is suing the makers of Steven Spielberg's TNT miniseries, "Into the West," for $325,000 because a set stylist cut their 8-year-old daughter's hair without their permission. In their culture, it is not customary to cut a girl's hair until her Coming of Age ceremony.

New Mexico is experiencing a flurry of filmmaking activity thanks to some very generous tax incentives, and while the girl's father welcomes this activity, he asks that visiting filmmakers be more culturally sensitive when filming in the state.

Filmmakers who shoot in states like New Mexico and Hawaii, which have significant indigenous populations that still observe their own cultural practices and customs, must take extra care to respect these host cultures. In Hawaii, there are many environmental and cultural sensitivities that must be heeded, such as inviting a kahu (Hawaiian priest) to bless the set before filming, and not disturbing heiau, which are historic places of worship dotted throughout the state in rainforests, near beaches, off dirt paths, on a hill, etc. If you are a visiting filmmaker who wants to make sure you aren't offending any Hawaiian customs, please call the Hawaii Film Office for advice at 808-586-2570.

>> Spielberg Production Sued Over Haircut [AP, 3/17/06]

>> Hawaii Newbies, Read This
Hawaii vs. Hawaiian
Culture Clash
10 Things I Learned From Our First FilmHawaii Seminar
Lawyers Rake It In On Runaway Productions

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