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Shooting in Hawaii


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I lived and worked in Hawai'i for 20+ years...

frankly, nothing special

don't leave gear in parked/unattended vehicles, as theft has been a very longstanding issue.

proper clothing, shoes, and sunscreen

beware of salt water spray...

Advance contact by your production with the state Hawai'i Film office, www.hawaiifilmoffice.com and the City/County Maui film offices www.filmmaui.com is important, especially as permits, etc. may be necessary.(hate to have your gear confiscated, it can ruin your whole trip!)

a local production coordinator/location manager is a valuable asset to any and every visiting production, as they can, and do, guide your production through all the politics, hoops, and red tape. They typically save productions more than they cost!

having a local crew-member, a PA, or driver, is verrrrry wise!

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Welcome to paradise, Maui can be a very pleasurable place depending on where / when you visit. In fact the weather, wind, and moisture conditions can be so drastically different from location to location that there is no generic advice that would apply. Many beaches are very mild and not much more of a challenge than any other typical mainland park. ...or you could have gusting winds, sideways rain, blazing sun, and double rainbows. Will post later when I have more time and maybe more info.

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To the OP, I don't know what type of doc you are doing and where, but some thing I find generally helpful while working in Hawaii...


CLOTHING: The best sun protection is long sleeves, pants, and hats.  Obviously the temps here can get high, but generally milder than other locales closer to the equator - must be our ocean breezes, but lightweight tropical wear might be your friend.  Typical rain jackets are too hot to wear here, maybe some of the more technical lightweight stuffable  breathable shells would work, but are very noisy if that matters at all.  I personally go Rambo style, strip down and put on a potato sack - sometimes you just going to get wet, and get into the mindset that it don't matter none.  Or just have some of the disposable panchos on hand the type you buy from Longs.  I find that many shoots in Hawaii are highlighting the outdoors and beaches, so working a week straight or more exposed to the sun is not uncommon.  Sunscreen just might not be enough, but if your skin is used to it, you might be able to get away with light clothing.  I always have slippers on me, and more often than not wear them to work.  When going in/out of houses, there is often a no shoes rule or when working on sand, of course one goes barefoot.  Always have hiking shoes with you, though.


WATERWORK: In extreme cases, have everything in Pelicans or dry bags.  I actually have worked on productions with wet drop of all gear where boat couldn't make it to shore due to high surf, for remote shoots.  Because there is a lot of inter-island flights and freighting involved, having pelicans to work out of and ship just makes sense.  I have 1 1650 case specifically with water gear, which contains towel, shoes, water shoes, large dry bag, 2 small dry satchels (green Columbia), waterproof walkie case, multiple waterproof pacemaker cases, fins (Viper surf fins), googles (recommend open water swimming goggles like the Seal masks or like), canned air, desiccant...  My camera hop transmitters are a pair of Lectro WM going to SRb's.  I chose the WM because of their ruggedness, and the fact that if suddenly I'm doing surfing, stand up paddling, kayak / canoeing, fishing, or any other water based activity, I can just disconnect the WM from my bag, pop a couple of mics on them, bump up power to 250mW, and now we have sound to cameras still and I don't have to worry about getting my gear wet with quality good enough for TV.


WEATHER: almost every island has a dry side (leeward) and wet side (windward).  We have trade winds that predominantly blow from the east.  That means that all the ocean moistness collects and gets dumped on the windward side of each island.  You can expect rain almost every day on most windward spots, although it sometimes doesn't last long.  The leeward sides tend to be dry and the larger the island is, the more pronounced this effect is.  That is why the Big Island has areas that look like desserts.


LOCAL PECULIARITIES: SPAM musubi, loco moco, saimin, dried aku, boiled peanuts - there is a cuisine that has developed here from post-WWII, multi-ethnic mixtures of different cuisines and influences.  Some of it is good, some not good for you, but all delicious in its own way - give it a try.  Finding "real" Hawaiian food is not always so easy, depending on where your at, but much of that is really quite delicious too.  Hawaiian is really an ethnicity.  I live in Hawaii, but I'm not Hawaiian, nor am I from Hawaii.  There is a cultural identity and a dwindling cultural resource that is "Hawai'ian" and it is not simply exactly the same as American, Australian, Canadian, or any other -an -ian -ium or -iun.  I'll just touch lightly on that, but be aware that there is a culture here that goes back before western "discovery" and it was not a backwards society of natives wearing coconut brazziers, grass skirts, and dancing hula to western music, it was a highly scientific and advanced culture, one that has unfortunately been displaced by another.  People do not use north, west, south, and east here to give directions or describe location.  Mauka (mountain), Makai (ocean) is the primary axis... and other terms, such as windward, leeward, or township, or other landmark used as the secondary axis.  Maps to us are lat / long, but for island living, you could almost think in terms of a radial system.  Waikoloa Beach is makai side of Queen K highway, go Kawai Hai when coming form the airport.  It is quite easy to come here as a visitor and just behave exactly like you would at home.  It is probably a more rewarding experience to come as a student, with open mind and open ears, and listen to the language and music of the islands, which still can be heard, even through the filter of resort industry and development economy.


Do you happen to be working in Hana?  If so, you'll be working either Skye and / or Shawn, both really good guys, and both very different.  Depending on where exactly your working, you might have to be completely self sufficient, so don't expect a quick convenient stop at a store to pick up something you forgot.

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Hi Tom!


This helps a lot! Fortunately(or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), it is a pretty simple shoot. Nothing on the water. It's a doc about a wedding planner. It sounds like it's mostly indoor stuff, with an event at a fancy place overlooking the ocean. No beach or anything. Nerves went at ease when I was told this.


However, I definitely appreciate all the advice, and I will definitely prepare accordingly, especially clothing wise because you never know. I am definitely stoked to listen and learn about the culture of the island.

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