Archive for the 'Local Mixed Plate' Category


Don’t Let the Honoka’a People’s Theatre Go Dark!

The grand dame of Honoka'a.

The grand dame of Honoka’a.

Here on Oahu we’re fortunate enough to have a number of different theaters to choose from when we want to go to the movies. As the years have gone on, cinema and the movie going experience has changed and theaters have had to struggle to keep up or face going out of business. The biggest success story is probably our very own Consolidated Theatres which boasts nearly 100 years of “Entertaining Hawaii.” However, many of the small and community based movie houses that were quite prevalent 40-50 years ago have nearly all disappeared (more here).

On the Big Island, one of these small town movie houses is still in existence and to this very day and still provides an awesome cinema experience and public service for its community. The grand dame of Honoka’a, The Honoka’a People’s Theatre, was built in in 1930 and since then has been creating a unique cinema experience for the community for 84 years. On-going renovations since the 90s have diversified the theatre’s use and it has also become a renowned venue for live performances. Here’s a bit more info on the Honoka’a People’s Theatre from their website:

The People’s Theatre is the largest theatre on Hawaii Island, with 525 seating capacity and a large 50 foot screen. The theatre has a DTS surround sound system, 35 mm and digital film projectors, a 50 ft stage, dance floor, 30 stage lights, 4 roving scanner lights, two side balconies, dressing rooms, basic live PA, and a grand piano. The lobby hosts a concession stand, dining area, and ticket booth. Available upstairs for performers during large events is a greenroom area with a kitchen and lounge area.

The People's Theatre back in the day.

The People’s Theatre back in the day.

Though the Honoka’a People’s Theatre has managed to stay open, they are currently facing the same issue that many small mom and pop and single screen community theaters across the country have faced in recent years: digital conversion. With film prints almost entirely phased out by the big studios (Disney, Fox, Sony, Warner Bros, Paramount) theaters have had to convert to digital projectors or face shutting down. While the People’s Theatre may not shut down, they’ll definitely lose a big chunk of their history if they are unable to continue to show movies.

Currently the Honoka’a People’s Theatre is hosting a number of fund raising events in an effort to raise the $60,000 they need to secure a DCI-compliant digital projector. Along with these events, they have also created a campaign on Kickstarter to help those that want to donate. As of this posting they are about $22,000 away from reaching their goal with five weeks left to go.

Inside the theatre with a view of the screen, stage, and some of the 525 seats the theatre holds.

The interior of the theatre as it appears today with a view of the screen, stage, and some of its 525 seats.

The Red Band Project was fortunate enough to visit the Honoka’a People’s Theatre earlier this summer, and though we weren’t able to take in a show, we did get feel for how “grand” the grand dame of Honoka’a is. As lovers of movies and the cinema experience, the Red Band Project has already backed the Kickstarter campaign and now we put it out there for you to donate. Though you may never set foot in the Honoka’a People’s Theatre, please consider donating (even a small amount) as unique cinema experiences such as this are hard to come by these days, especially in Hawaii.

For more information about the Honoka’a People’s Theatre, check out their website or Facebook page. For more on the history and personal recollections of the theatre, see the piece written for Hana Hou magazine. If you’d like to donate to their fundraising efforts, head over to their Kickstarter page and leave a few bucks for a good cause!

See their Kickstarter video below:


Final Edition: Thoughts on DEADLINE

No, we're not in dark room to meet Deep Throat, we're here to get the info on journalism!

No, we’re not in dark room to meet Deep Throat, we’re here to get the scoop on journalism!

Last week Interisland Terminal hosted DEADLINE: A Journalism Film Series at R&D. Over the course of three nights three films were shown followed by a panel discussion with members of the Hawaii media/journalism community. For each film, panelists composed essays that were inspired by the film that preceded their panel.

I will concede that journalism and news reporting are neither my area of expertise nor an area that holds a lot of interest to me. The most I want from the news is for it to inform me should I happen to pick up a paper or catch Keahi Tucker on TV. My real interest in the film series was seeing the movies themselves and the related discussion to follow. What I got wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was fascinating and interesting nonetheless.

On the two nights I was able to attend, the post screening discussions veered largely into questions about journalism in today’s world. While I’ll get into some of the takeaways I got from the discussions in a bit, two things I do want to highlight were the insight and knowledge that the panelists brought to the conversation and the awesome moderating by Ben Trevino.

Wednesday night's panel (left to right) featuring moderator Ben Trevino, James Cave, Elizabeth Kieszkowski, and Keopu Reelitz.

Wednesday night’s panel (left to right) featuring moderator Ben Trevino, James Cave, Elizabeth Kieszkowski, and Keopu Reelitz.

Friday night's panel of Ben Trevino, Jared Kuroiwa, Jackie Perreira, and Burt Lum.

Friday night’s panel of Ben Trevino, Jared Kuroiwa, Jackie Perreira, and Burt Lum.

Each discussion started off with panelists relating the genesis of their essay to their film. While each essay was different, it was intriguing to see what kind of themes and questions each author pulled from their respective film; and given all of their different backgrounds in the field of journalism each provided unique insights and thought provoking questions and commentary in discussions.

On the moderator side of things, Ben provided excellent summations and pointed questions that keep the discussions moving and on track. I’ve been to a few Q&A’s and have listed to a bunch more and you can tell bad moderation from good. In bad cases a moderator will let either the audience or speaker ramble on longer than necessary or won’t be able to keep the discussion focused if it goes off track. While the Deadline film series audience and panelists were very cordial; Ben was able to distill a lot of good points from ongoing discussions and was never afraid to move the discussion in a new direction if needed to.

DEADLINE film series . . . The paper! (a collection of essays from the panelists)

DEADLINE film series . . . The paper! (a collection of essays from the panelists)

Here listed are the panelists that attended, the news organizations they work for, and the title of their essays to give you an idea of the collected experience that was on hand for discussion:

Good Night, and Good Luck – Wednesday, January 8

  • Elizabeth Kieszkowski (Star Advertiser): Taking Sides: Which Voices Can You Trust?
  • James Cave (The Offsetter): The Case of the Ugly Truth
  • Keopu Reelitz (Mana Magazine): Hi, I’m a Journalist. Would You Like to See My Baggage?

A Fragile Trust – Thursday, January 9

All the President’s Men – Friday, January 10

  • Jared Kuroiwa (KHON): Can There be a Woodward and Bernstein in 2014?
  • Jackie Perreira (Ka Leo): Who Watches the Watchdogs?
  • Burt Lum (Hawaii Public Radio): The Future of the News Looks Like Data

Some of the interesting tidbits that I took away were:

  • On the question of how do we trust reporting when people (reporters) take sides and have biases? (in relation to Kieszkowski’s and Reelitz’s essays) As demonstrated Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck; trust can be built by building a factual case and with good solid reporting. Build a strong enough case, and the truth is hard to dispute.
  • Reporters and journalists can build credibility with their audience with solid reporting and building a good track record over time.
  • In the area of citizen journalism–the jury is still out the credibility and verification of the reporting. Though it was only touched on in the discussion, my thoughts on citizen journalism are this: citizen journalism is very good at providing ‘of the moment’ news and information where news breaks. Can it do more? Probably. It will however, never replace the need for professional journalism. Professional journalists can not be everywhere at once–news breaks anywhere and at any time. Citizen journalists are everywhere (figuratively) and have the potential to break stories (ie, provide news and information) first.
  • Ultimately it is up to the audience whether or not they decide to trust the the news and media sources that they do. Today, especially with accessibility of the Internet, it is ultimately the audience that 1)chooses to accept and trust the news they get from the sources that they get it from and 2) challenge or verify any news on their own by their own means.
  • Brought up on the final night by Burt Lum–it’s not about trust in journalism, it’s what you do with the information that you consume.

I think that sums things up quite nicely.

With the conclusion of the DEADLINE film series, the Interisland Terminal peeps will be closing the door on their escapades in the R&D space they’ve called home for the past two years. While always meant to be temporary, having a venue to showcase the different projects and endeavors they like to do will definitely be missed. Not to worry though, the creative minds behind R&D will still be around, just a bit more mobile for the time being. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get another film series from them. One can only hope.

More coverage on DEADLINE: A Journalism Film Series:

NonStop Honolulu gives a report on the first night of the film series by Tracy Chan.

HPR’s Bytemarks Cafe hosted Ben and James where they talked about the film series on air.

Gene Park’s essay A Cautionary Tale of Postmodern Journalism via The Offsetter.

Burt Lum’s essay The Internet of Things and the Future of Journalism via The Offsetter.


DEADLINE: A Journalism Film Series

The three films playing the in the DEADLINE films series.

The three films playing the in the DEADLINE films series starting tomorrow at R&D.

With the success of their science fiction film series Discontinuities in late August, Interisland Terminal and The Offsetter close out R&D (for real this time?) with one final event—and lucky for us it’s another film series! DEADLINE: A Journalism Film Series will focus on news, reporting, the changing landscape of media in Hawaii, and much more. The film series will include three films shown over the course of three nights, include essays from local journalists, and panel discussions following each film.

DEADLINE: A Journalism Film Series

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) – Wed January 8, 7pm


Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. Directed by George Clooney the film stars David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow with supporting roles from Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., Ray Wise, Frank Langella, and Jeff Daniels (pre-Newsroom).

A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times (2013)
Thu January 9, 7pm


A documentary on Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time. He created a massive scandal that rocked the New York Times and the entire world of journalism a number of his stories that included plagiarized or fabricated information.

All the President’s Men (1976) – Fri January 10, 7pm


The classic journalism story of reporters Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) who uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation.

When I asked event organizers James Cave and Benjamin Trevino about how the focus on journalism for the film series came about, here’s what they had to say:

Having worked as arts and culture editor at the Honolulu Weekly, I noticed that there was a lack of critical dialogue in terms of local art reviews. And for a long time I’ve wanted host a panel discussion with local artists, art writers, and newspaper and magazine editors to find out why this is the case here. I spent a lot of time at R/D and eventually ended up working at the coffee shop there, and when Ben’s sci-fi fest came up, and was successful, we realized we could do the same approach—films, essays, panel discussions—and apply it to journalism. But we would have to take the idea of the art criticism panel (because that was too niche) and expand it to include the state of all local news media as it is today.

Last year, with the demise of the Honolulu Weekly and launch of Huffington Post Hawaii (old media dying and new media expanding), we figured we could screen some films and invite local media professionals to write their concerns and come talk about the changes happening in the way people deliver and consume news both locally and nationally.

-James Cave, The Offsetter

On coming up with the issues & themes for the film series at a gathering at R&D last month:

We got together to watch Page1: Inside the New York Times, a really expansive documentary about all kinds of contemporary news issues (unfortunately not a part of the film series) and there were a number of great themes: the business of journalism and whose interests should support news reporting, the interplay between professional and citizen journalists, the value of transparency but also the costs it imposes on news organizations. All of those ideas flourished into wonderful essays that are being released as a part of the series.

-Benjamin Trevino, Interisland Terminal

On what they hope people take away from the film series:

[The film series] is open to everybody, not just media people, because we want to provide a discussion platform for journalists, editors, publishers, and readers to come and try and figure out what we all want out of a local news industry and where we might try to go in the years ahead.

-James Cave, The Offsetter

Journalism is essential to citizenship. News / Social media are our eyes and ears on the things that are important to us. I hope that people walk away from the DEADLINE screenings and discussions with their own ideas on how to improve news reporting to work for them. I hope people walk away skeptical of everything they read, but not cynical about journalism. And I hope they feel empowered to demand more from our local media, who I truly believe are seeking an invested audience as much as we readers are seeking quality investigation.

-Benjamin Trevino, Interisland Terminal

Tickets for any of the films in the series are on sale at Eventbrite for $8 (+processing fee). However, you can purchase a discounted All Access Press Pass for $15 (+processing fee) which allows you to see all the films AND gets you the printed essay collection from the series.

If you’re any type of a cinephile or news junkie, you’ll definitely want to check out DEADLINE and experience some great films and good discussion with like minded people.


Maui Native Wins Big at SXSW

Destin Daniel Cretton (center) with the cast & crew from his award winning feature Short Term 12.

Destin Daniel Cretton (center) with the cast & crew from his award winning feature Short Term 12.

With just a handful of short films and one full length feature to his credit, Maui native Destin Daniel Cretton’s second feature film Short Term 12 made a huge splash last week at the SXSW Film Festival by picking up the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award in the Narrative Feature Competition category.

Short Term 12 is based off of Cretton’s own experience working in a group home for troubled teenagers–an experience that has stuck with him ever since, “It was by far, one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had – at first. I was really afraid of doing something wrong and messing up these kids more than they already were. But after a month or so, I fell in love with it.” It was so impactful that Cretton first made a short film bearing the same name that debuted at Sundance in 2009 and won the Jury Prize in that category. His first full length feature I Am Not a Hipster premiered at last year’s Sundance and also played at last year’s HIFF.

Brie Larson as Grace, the protagonist of Short Term 12.

Brie Larson as Grace, the protagonist of Short Term 12.

Synopsis from SXSW:

“Short Term 12” is told through the eyes of Grace (Brie Larson), a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge – and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr). But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throw her into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. While the subject matter is complex, this lovingly realized film finds truth – and humor – in unexpected places.

HIFF Programming Director Anderson Le, who was on the ground at SXSW and saw Short Term 12, had very high praise, “I saw Short Term 12 at SXSW and it was hands down, the best film there. It totally deserved the grand prize for best narrative feature AND the audience award.” Le hopes to get the film for HIFF’s fall showcase and have Cretton participate in HIFF’s newly formed Creative Lab series.


Though there is no distribution plan for Short Term 12 yet, after receiving a large amount of critical acclaim at SXSW, there is currently a bidding war for the distribution rights to Short Term 12. Hopefully that means we’ll be able to see Cretton’s film sometime later this year at a theater near you.


Go See Kinetic Films at Consolidated Pearlridge This Week


Outside of HIFF, it feels like there are hardly any opportunities for local filmmakers to showcase some of the great work that they create at home here in Hawaii (or for local moviegoers to see locally made films). That is why local production company Kinetic Films and local theater chain Consolidated Theatres have partnered together to bring three local films to the big screen this coming week.

Paradise Broken, 6B, and Hang Loose are all homegrown productions from Kinetic Productions that tell local stories and showcase local talent both in front of and behind the camera. Here are the synopsis for each, along with our take and ratings for each film from previous Hawaii International Film Festival screenings.

Paradise Broken – 4/5 stars


Synopsis (via

This award winning gritty drama delves into the darker side of paradise and features cult legend Dante Basco and Hollywood actor Khalil Kain. As the sun sets and the sightseers retire for the evening, two drug addicts must work the back alleys of Waikiki to make their modest dreams come true. But after the couple has a big blow out, the regretful Ray searches for a pregnant Misha while she faces off against her abusive father and a kingpin pimp of Waikiki. Although Ray and Misha try to rise above the powers that bring them down, their split may have been the only chance they had to survive.

Our Thoughts from HIFF 2011:

It was the fact that these characters could be people I know. They were walking along sidewalks and streets I myself have walked on. How could this not be real? . . . I’ve always been of the mind that good movies will entertain you, but a great movie will engage and challenge what you think. I don’t want to sound naive, but Paradise Broken definitely made me think about the things we don’t see and that probably do happen so close to home–because of that, this is a film you definitely won’t want to miss.

6B – 3.5/5 stars


Synopsis (via

Experience four unique short films about Hawaii in this anthology revolving around the room, 6B. Each of the four stories examines a darker side of island life: a man struggling with drug addiction has a revelation about his identity; an ex-con must enter an underground poker game to reunite with his daughter; a young woman befriends her neighbor, a former hit man; and a Japanese American family of 3 generations deals with an impending tsunami. 6B features an all-Hawaii cast, crew, and production.

Our Thoughts:

The most diverse out of the three features, 6B will give you a little bit of everything as it is an anthology of four shot films directed by four local filmmakers: Nathan Kurosawa, Ryan Kawamoto, Roy Kimura, and Jay Hanamura. All are dramas, but each piece of the anthology has its own unique style and flair to local storytelling. Also, since 6B is four films in one, you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize you know whether it be a local actor/celebrity, family member, or even a friend.

Hang Loose – 3/5 stars


Synopsis (via

Hang Loose this Spring Break with this coming of age comedy featuring local fave Augie T, YouTube sensation KevJumba and 21 AND OVER’s Justin Chon. Kevin is an average, conservative Asian-American male. Fresh out of high school, he flies to Hawai’ to attend the wedding of his big sister. The day before the wedding, he meets his future brother in law (Dante Basco, HOOK, THE DEBUT) and they head out for a bachelor party with his frat boy groomsmen. A misunderstanding with a notorious drug dealer leads to one crazy night and a series of misadventures that will change Kevin’s life forever.

Our Thoughts from HIFF 2012:

Kevin Wu and Dante Basco were perfectly fine in their roles here, with Basco even stealing scenes a few times . . . I myself hung loose and just went with it and had a few laughs in the process.

Definitely the most accessible of the three presentations, go with Hang Loose if you’re looking for something lighter and fun before venturing into more serious fare with 6B and Paradise Broken.

The Where and When . . .

The Basco brothers, Ryan Kawamoto, and James Sereno at last night's premiere at Ward.

The Basco brothers, Ryan Kawamoto, and James Sereno at last night’s premiere at Ward.

All three films will be shown at Consolidated Threatres’ Pearlridge West 16 starting today for at least a one week engagement (longer if us locals go out and pack the house). Tickets can be purchased at the Consolidated Pearlridge West 16 box office or online at Tonight (March 15) from 5:00-8:45pm, Hang Loose stars Dante Basco and Justin Chon will be on hand for an autograph session at the theaters. If you want to hear more about the special showcase from the creators themselves, both James Sereno and Ryan Kawamoto of Kinetic were on KITV yesterday morning to talk about the films and the work that Kinetic does:

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Paradise Broken (No Rating, 1h 46m), 6B (No Rating, 1h 53m), and (No Rating, 1h 33m) are now playing at Consolidated Pearlridge West 16.


Film and Music at R&D

Welcome to R&D.

Kaka‘ako has seen a resurgence as of late. There are tons of redevelopment plans in the works, but even more noticeable is the emergence of a network of artists and artistic expression in the neighborhood. Driving along Pohukaina Street and even along parts of Ala Moana Blvd you can see the cool handy work of Pow Wow Hawai‘i as their public murals grace the walls of businesses and construction sites throughout the area.

It’s in this urban environment that Interisland Terminal opened R&D, a collaborative/creative cafe furthering their mission of presenting international contemporary art, design, and film while also advancing the role of the arts in innovation. R&D serves up coffee and free wifi, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t a Starbucks. Tables and chairs are all modular and can be setup or rearranged to accommodate a variety of different groups and collaborative work. And if you need some inspiration or something to get your creative juices flowing, art and design books line the walls for perusal (and purchase).

Music Docs Fest @ R&D

As part of their year round programming, Interisland Terminal showcases certain films or puts on film series at R&D; which is what brought me there this past Tuesday. This week they are currently presenting Music Docs Fest, a documentary series of four stories that dive into the artists and music that has defined their lives and ours.

The four films in the series are:

  • Charles Bradley, Soul of America (Tue Sept 25)
    The incredible rise to fame of 63-year-old aspiring soul singer Charles Bradley, whose debut album took him from a hard life in the Brooklyn Housing Projects to Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 50 albums of 2011.
  • Big Easy Express (Wed Sept 26)
    Folk rock and bluegrass musicians Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes travel together by train from San Francisco to New Orleans in the spring of 2011.
  • Blank City (Thu Sept 27)
    During the punk rock stage in the late ’70s, downtown New York experienced a wave of “Do it yourself” independent filmmaking.
  • Shut Up and Play the Hits: The Final Days of LCD Soundsystem (Fri, Sept 28)
    On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. Documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.

Charles Bradley, Soul of America

Can you feel it? The emotion in the man’s performance is infectious.

I had the opportunity to check out the opening night film of the Fest, Charles Bradley, Soul of America. What drew me to the film was the sound of Bradley’s voice and the seemingly effortless way he puts emotion into his singing as well as his amazing rise in popularity as a musical artist. The film does not paint an easy picture for Bradley as he left home at an early age and moved around a great deal. Through all his struggles he discovered that he had a talent for singing and went by the alter ego “Black Velvet” covering James Brown songs. It was under this auspiciousness that Bradley was discovered by Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records which would eventually go on become Bradley’s producer and record label.

The most intriguing thing I took away from the film was that Bradley’s career seemed to have taken off when he changed from impersonating James Brown and began singing his own, more personal songs. His songs give him a uniqueness and personalization that I think was missing from his alter ego. The talent seemed to always be there, but the feeling and soul that he puts into his own music is something I think that the audience responds to. I know I certainly picked up on it.

Screening @ R&D

R&D setup for film screenings.

As a venue for films, R&D is a nice intimate space. As I mentioned earlier, seating is modular so the space was configured for film presentation with the screen towards the front of the cafe, blocking the windows and light from the street. The screen is big enough so that everyone in the room should have a pretty good view of the screen and the sound projection is audible and clear no matter where you’re sitting. Speaking of sitting, single seats were arranged on the lower floor with tables and chairs setup on the upper floor. As for seating capacity, it looked like the space could comfortably accommodate an audience of 25, though I’m sure it could handle double that (depending on what the maximum occupancy is).

The one quibble I did have was with the chairs/seats. They are rectangularly shaped, made of wood, and when not in use are stacked up against the wall and used as shelf space. Sitting on them for an extended period of time may not be the most comfortable experience since there is no back to your seat or padding. However, if you’re engrossed in what you’re watching, you probably won’t even notice.

On the whole it was a great experience and I look forward to future film exhibitions at Interisland Terminal’s R&D.

The Music Docs Fest continues tonight at R&D with the 7pm screening of Blank City and concludes tomorrow night with Shut Up and Play the Hits. R&D is located at 691 Auahi Street, right around the corner from Hank’s Haute Dogs.


Hawaii Previous is Not Uninteresting

Screened at The Green House on Friday, December 16, 2011.

This past Friday the Red Band Project was invited to see the final cut of Hawaii Previous, a short film produced by screen2play which was their entry in last month’s Showdown in Chinatown film competition. A local version of The 48 Hour Film Project, teams basically have a set or limited amount of time to put together a film with specific guidelines in place (required use of a prop/s, specific genre/theme, etc). At it’s core, the Showdown in Chinatown pushes the skill and creativity of local filmmakers in a friendly competition.

Movie posters for the film lined the walls of The Green House.

What or who exactly is screen2play? screen2play is masterminded by Dan Zelikman, whose resumé is long and distinguished, but ultimately has a passion for film at heart. Through the wonders of social media I’d been following Dan on Twitter for a while and eventually stumbled onto his social media screenwriting efforts over at screen2play. To give you some more background, here’s an excerpt from his initial post:

I thought it might be fun to collect ideas for a screenplay using social media. Everything from the characters, their backgrounds, the story, conflicts, resolutions, etc.

As a community we can write it – and I’ll do my best to keep it in a direction that tells an interesting story.

You never know, maybe we’ll put something together that’s worth filming.

I guess that’s the project.

Though their Showdown in Chinatown entry was limited to seven minutes, the screen2play team put together a final cut of Hawaii Previous that was ten minutes long. Knowing that their film had been a finalist in the Showdown event, we decided to drop by and check out their work. Besides, who doesn’t love seeing a director’s cut now and again?

A big sign announcing the film and people involved greeted everyone upon entry.

The screening was held at The Green House, a new “learning lab, shared workspace, innovation hub” in Kaka‘ako. Co-owned by John Garcia, who also shot and edited the film, he hopes that Hawaii Previous will be the first of many showcases by local creatives at The Green House.

Everyone mingling in The Green House before the screenings of Hawaii Previous.

To kick things off that night, Dan introduced himself and all the players involved with the film and also laid out what was in store for everyone. Throughout the introductions, questions asked after the film, and a few personal conversations with Dan himself; you could definitely sense the exuberance that he had for the project. From funny things that happened on set to the nail-biting loss of all their footage after they had wrapped, everything was spoken with a great sense of pride and ownership.

Evan and Dan introducing the film before the screening.

Probably what I admire most was Dan’s ‘just go out and do it’ mentality. From what he told us, it didn’t sound as if he had a lot of experience with filmmaking. However, the project was something that he wanted to do and he had the drive to do it, so . . . he went out and did it. In many ways I can identify with his ‘just do it’ mentality. Sometimes you just have to go out and do something instead of talking, discussing, or planning it too much. Yeah, things may not always work without the right planning, but I think sometimes inaction can be just as bad. Anyway, I digress . . .

Hawaii Previous . . . the film

A scene from Hawaii Previous.

Before we go any further I’d be remiss to mention that the screenwriter for the project was Evan Nagle. While most people think that the director is the one that comes up with the story for a film, a lot of the time this is not always the case. Films usually start off being written and developed by screenwriters, and Dan was quick to give credit and praise to Evan for his smart screenplay.

So what exactly is Hawaii Previous about? Here’s background on the project and a synopsis from the Hawaii Previous – Film Debut & Screening event page:

The initial idea for Hawaii Previous stemmed from the The Showdown in Chinatown challenge of making a film about a Hawaiian Tale, which also needed to have the Pacific Ocean in the film. When we heard the criteria, we figured the other teams were going to go in the direction of shooting a beautiful Hawaii filled with gorgeous blue oceans, palm trees and explosive sunsets.

We decided to go a different route.

Hawaii Previous is set 2,000 years in the future where Hawaii is stuck smack in the middle of the oceanless continent Amasia (after the Pacific plate subducted, America and Asia became one continent).

Joon and Mestiza are two members from a tribe that live in Hawaii Previous and search for edible food remnants everyday. That is, until they find something in their digging that is of a greater interest.

Initially it was a little difficult to get into the film, mainly due to the audio as I couldn’t quite make out what our two protagonists were saying. When I was finally able to make out what they were saying, I hit another stumbling block . . . I sort of didn’t understand the things they were saying. They weren’t speaking another language, but they weren’t speaking normally either. Then finally everything clicked, and not just with me, but with everyone in the audience it seemed as well . . . the characters were speaking in a way where they knew they were in a film and were breaking the fourth wall by referencing things such as their lines and an upcoming scene. The characters also referenced their past in a unique way by citing those things as “previous” (ex: the nonexistent ocean as ‘water previous’ or ‘ocean previous’; the land they were standing on as ‘Hawaii previous’, etc).

Joon and Mestiza searching for food in a scene from Hawaii Previous.

While I won’t venture into spoilers, I will say that I did enjoy the film and wish I could have watched it a second time–to catch what I missed in the first few minutes of the film and to watch it knowing what I know now about the film. The premise of the story is interesting as we follow the two protagonists Joon and Mestiza as they search for sustenance in the wasteland of Hawaii Previous. As made apparent as the film goes on, the world they live in harsh and devoid of color, both literally and figuratively. As I mentioned earlier, though they speak in English, the syntax that Joon and Mestiza use is unique to this time period. Is this a result of the catastrophe that befell Earth? No reason is given and figuring it out isn’t the point. Following them on their journey for food is.

In the end it’s this combination of weird syntax, acknowledgement of the existence of the camera, and the situation that our protagonists find themselves in that makes the film engrossing and at times humorously entertaining. I give Dan, Evan, John and the rest of the crew tons of praise for putting together a really great film.

One pressing question I had about the film on Friday was, so how did the film do in the Showdown in Chinatown competition? Despite their best efforts, another team took home first place. However, as I mentioned, the film is great and is definitely something for them to be proud of. Hell, I’m proud to have gone and seen it. And I hope that people have the opportunity to see it.

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