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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hawai'i film projects gain momentum

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Here's just a sampling of local indie projects happening now.

Jon Sakata and Bryan Yamasaki mixed it up in a scene from "Blood of the Samurai" filmed at the Zanzabar nightclub in Waikiki.

Advertiser library photo • Aug. 3, 2003

• Award-winning natural-history cinematographers Paul and Gracie Atkins are wrapping up work on what is believed to be the first high-definition documentary about Hawai'i's natural environment. "Violent Hawaii" includes aerial and underwater footage of Hawai'i's dynamic and unpredictable environment, including Kiluaea volcano, submerged Lo'ihi volcano and Mauna Loa.

The documentary will air as part of the PBS "Nature" series on Jan. 9.

• The University of Hawai'i's Academy for Creative Media releases its collection of student-produced short films, shown at this year's Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, to local intermediate and high schools next month. The collection includes Kaliko Palmiera's award-winning documentary "Steve Ma'i'i" and a bonus film, Ronson Akina's "The Piggery."

• Producers of "Blood of the Samurai: The Series" have edited the six-episode series (originally shown on OC16) down to one quick-moving, high-action 80-minute feature. "The series was more of a melodrama," said writer and producer Anderson Le. "The film version is more of a straight-forward, plot-driven action film."

The series, which Le wrote and produced with Ian Hirokawa, was based on Aaron Yamasato's original film, "Blood of the Samurai," which was screened at festivals around the world and sold locally and in Asia. Yamasato's latest TV project (with producer Paul Booth) is "Ninja EX," which airs Thursdays on OC16.

• UH graduate Jules Nathan is getting set to shoot his second feature film, "Drama Games," Dec. 3-18 in Honolulu. The 90-minute film follows a student actor, Kauinoe, on the night of his final college performance as he faces the growing realization that his accomplishments and accolades may not add up to real success. Nathan, who has worked as a production assistant on "American Idol," "North Shore," "Cowboy U" and other Hawai'i-based productions, says the story is a conglomerate of experiences he and his friends have been through.

• Oscar-winning producers Chris Tashima and Tim Toyama ("Visas and Virtue," "Day of Independence") are casting young Asian-American male actors for a new project, "Memorial Day." The film, about Hawai'i's famed 100th/442nd soldiers, is the third in Tashima and Toyama's trilogy of World War II films. Interested actors may submit head shots and resumes to Stacey Hayashi, 3375 Koapaka St., Suite D150, Honolulu, HI 96819 (no personal deliveries or e-mail submissions). Deadline is Dec. 1.

Tashima and Toyama's Los Angeles-based Cedar Grove Productions recently picked up Hayashi, a Hawai'i-based media producer, as an executive producer on the film.

• "Visas and Virtue" and "Day of Independence" will be a double bill at the University of Hawai'i's Hemenway Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3. The screening is free to veterans and their families; $10 donation accepted from other attendees.