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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 14, 2007

'Indiana Jones' having big impact on the Big Island

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

"Indiana Jones" executive producer Kathleen Kennedy, flanked by location manager Mike Fantasia, left, and producer Frank Marshall, joked with the media during yesterday's press conference held in Hilo. Filming of the fourth episode started shooting on the Big Island this week.

TIM WRIGHT | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Harrison Ford

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HILO, Hawai'i Stunt-laden filming for the latest installment of the Indiana Jones movies is running smoothly under thick jungle canopy on the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island, but star Harrison Ford is reportedly suffering from some aches and pains.

There are 25 to 30 stunt performers working on the Big Island portion of the production, but executive producer Kathleen Kennedy said yesterday the 65-year-old Ford still handles his own leaps and falls during filming.

"He's doing them, he just has a few more ice packs and a few more massages," Kennedy said.

A crew of about 400, including about 125 Hawai'i hires, is on the Big Island shooting scenes for three weeks for the fourth in the Indiana Jones series. The filming for the still-unnamed movie is being done on private property and out of view of the public.

The cast and crew are expected to pack up and leave for the next location between July 21 and July 24, but before they do, they will have spent about $15 million on the Big Island, not including $2 million or $3 million in shipping costs, said location manager Mike Fantasia.

Kennedy declined to say what the overall budget is for the production, but said the cost will be "pretty much in line with a lot of big movies. Nothing particularly unusual."

Big Island Film Commissioner John L. Mason said film industry observers estimate there is a multiplier effect ranging from 1.5 to 3 as spending from film productions such as this moves through the local economy, meaning the Indiana Jones production is directly and indirectly generating economic activity worth $22 million to $45 million.

Mason called the project "a monster," the largest film project on the island in many years.

"The only thing that comes close is 'Waterworld,' and that was done 14 years ago," he said. He said he expects the filming will draw attention to the Big Island as a potential film production site.

"If the film people have a good experience here, I'm sure that will translate into additional film business," he said.

Executives at a news conference at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel yesterday said about 20 percent of the images moviegoers will see in the new Indiana Jones film will have been shot on the Big Island. The production also has filmed in New Mexico and Connecticut before arriving in Hawai'i, and about half of the scenes will be shot in Los Angeles studios.

The picture is being directed by Steven Spielberg, with George Lucas and Kennedy as executive producers. It is scheduled for release on May 22, 2008.

Producer Frank Marshall said Hawai'i's tax breaks for film production were a significant enticement to filming here, but executives also said they found two locations on the Big Island that offered settings that couldn't be matched anywhere else.

The Hawai'i landscape will be doubling for a South American rainforest in the Indiana Jones storyline, and Kennedy said the difficulty in finding old-growth jungle today "is a sad commentary on the world."

"There's not a lot of old-growth jungle left in the world, period, so we're very limited in finding that kind of really lush look to the jungle," she said.

Location manager Fantasia said the production has been lucky to be filming while the television series "Lost" isn't, "so we have a lot of their crew and a lot of their equipment. As soon as we finish, it's all getting back on a barge and heading back over to them."

Kennedy said that local expertise is also a factor in choosing filming locations.

"Hawai'i in general is becoming consistently a good place to shoot when the creative elements require this kind of a look, and the fact that there's a crew base now that's being developed, and there's a real depth to that crew base, that's often a very important determining factor" because it means fewer people have to be imported, she said.

"Otherwise, your only other option is to literally bring everybody, and that, too, can get wildly expensive on movies of this size," she said.

The reception in Hilo has also been warm, but not too warm, Kennedy said. At times, the excited public response to celebrities in public can be uncomfortable, but at dinner with George Lucas Thursday night, "people were absolutely great."

"They were very polite, and loved the fact that they got to see him. George took some picture and things like that, but I thought that they really respected the fact that he was trying to have a nice dinner and trying to enjoy the town a little bit," she said. Lucas was scheduled to leave Hawai'i yesterday.

Kennedy suggested there probably won't be shooting in Hilo or other urban areas because "this is Indiana Jones. He doesn't wander around the streets very much."

Ford did not attend the news conference, but he is working on the Big Island along with Cate Blanchett, John Hurt and Shia LaBeouf, the executives said.

"I gotta say, he looks amazing, he looks fantastic in the outfit," Kennedy said of Ford. "When we first did the test, that was the first thing Harrison wanted to see was whether or not he still fit in the pants, and he did. And he still fit in the hat."

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.