State film office excited for opportunity to build a new studio

Governor Neil Abercrombie recently granted a nice chunk of change to the Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism for the purpose of researching ways to build a new film studio facility.

As part of DBET, the Hawaii Film Office is excited for the opportunity, saying this is a step in the right direction for Hawaii’s economy.

To the tune of $100,000, it’s going to help officials figure out what the local film industry needs right now, and also search for the best location to build a brand new studio.

Hawaii has a lot to offer filmmakers — great weather, great lighting and serene tropical settings. But according to local film industry officials, the state is not taking advantage of what we’ve got.

“We want to be able to have more facilities to allow for more location filming,” said State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson. “When we are limited to one facility that can only house one production at a time, it does not afford opportunity to keep the pipeline full.”

When filmmakers choose Hawaii, the opportunities are endless.

“It benefits not only those working in the film industry, but also those working in the hospitality industry,” said Acting Hawaii Island Film Commissioner Ilihia Gionson. “Small business owners get a boost, and having them here really benefits the local community.”

The majority of film production is done on Oahu, but that could change.

“We have an immense amount of diversity across the island state,” Dawson said, “so we want to be able to showcase that diversity.”

Officials are looking at spaces on Oahu, as well as neighboring islands to build a bigger and better film studio, with room for soundstages, offices, facilities for post-production work … but do we have enough space for that?

“Absolutely,” Gionson said. “I believe Hawaii Island has a lot to offer. But wherever it ends up, it’ll lift the entire industry up.”

Now this is only step one in the planning process — there’s still an issue of funding once a location for a new film studio is locked down. Officials admit there’s still a lot of work to be done to turn Hawaii’s film industry into a force to be reckoned with, but they’re determined to make it happen.

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