TGI - Film to be made on Kauai gets funding

LIHUE — Establishing a film industry on Kauai takes more than hard work. It takes money.

Kauai Made Films successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 to begin production on a film made with 100 percent local talent and resources.

“Here’s a chance for us to create our own local production by Kauai people, meaning our youth, who are going to be our next generation of creatives,” said Randy Francisco, county film commissioner and creative industries small business coordinator. “Whether they’re storytellers, videographers or anyone in that industry.”

Backing for their project helps establish the foundation for a sustainable film industry on Kauai. Filming on the island could provide more local jobs and educate youth through valuable internship programs.

The Kauai-Made film, “Too Much Life,” is scripted as a modern high school drama about teenagers living in a world of social media, cyber-bullying and online relationships.

“The driving force behind the production of ‘Too Much Life’ is to share a story about our youth with the world,” said film director Edwin Sawyer, who co-founded the nonprofit Kauai Film Academy in 2000 to provide guidance to youth interested in graphic design, camera work, music recording and sound mixing.Production of the movie aims at encouraging students to explore these potential career pathways that continue with Kauai Community College’s recently launched associate’s degree program in creative media.

“It ties in with kids in the schools,” said Francisco, a former educator who helped establish the digital and creative media program in University of Hawaii community colleges. “In the ‘Hiki No’ PBS Awards, seven of the nine categories were won by Kauai students. On top of that, the Chiefess (Kamakahelei) Middle School program under Kevin Matsunaga won the national category. If that doesn’t inspire people like me, then I’m in the wrong job.”

“When you have it at that high of level, it’s also letting kids know there are other futures outside of what we have in the visitor industry, agriculture and retail,” Francisco added. “The skills they learn can be utilized across the spectrum.”

With county plans to establish the Kauai Creative Technology Center by 2019, students will be able to work on projects with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, attracting more large-scale productions and employing local crew members.

A talented local cast is already committed to star in “Too Much Life,” including Alana Blanchard, Kepa Kruse, Sonya Balmores, Nativa Law, Kirra Leonard and Makana Cabral. A portion of the Kickstarter funds will go to completing the local casting process.

“The kids are really involved,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who also works with the production team. “It’s not like a regular production. Not only are they in it, they’ll be doing the work, too.”

Students, parents, actors, businesses, filmmakers and officials from all over the island are coming together to make this independent film happen.

“This local production will create educational opportunities for our youth and strengthen creative industries on our island,” said Elliot Lucas, Kauai Made Films producer and co-founder of the Kauai Film Academy.

With the Kickstarter fundraising campaign’s success, the Kauai-made team plans to finish casting roles and purchasing much-needed equipment for the pre-production process.

“We’re blown away by the support,” Sawyer said. “Thank you to all the backers. We feel like they’re part of the team. Now there’s going to be a movie made on Kauai, and our kids are going to be trained in film-making.”

Their success may help “kick start” the island’s film industry and revitalize its creative technology sector.

Filming is scheduled to start in March 2018 for the movie’s projected release of October 2018.