Hawaii Film

Hawaii's film industry dates back even before its statehood

Lights, Camera, Aloha

Unquestionably, Hawaii has some of the most amazing natural scenery in the world. Filmmakers can shoot a wide assortment of movie scenes in various locations on the islands. The locations can be the setting for a feature film or show set in a South American rainforest, a cattle ranch in Texas, or even somewhere in outerspace.

The abundance of unique and diverse filming locations in Hawaii are quite impressive, even more so because of the various climatic zones found on the islands. The weather on the islands is sunny and warm throughout the year, with the exception of the rainy season. So, filmmakers are almost guaranteed the perfect conditions for filming. Each of Hawaii's six islands has landscapes where movies can be made.

Besides the amazing backdrop of the islands, Hawaii has other enticing offerings that inspire filmmakers to come to the islands. First of all, Hawaii is the only one of the United States that owns and operates its own film studio. Hawaii's own film studio has an inventory of top-notch filming equipment and an increasing number of facilities. The film studio also employs a pool of experienced crew members with undeniable talent. Because the Aloha State has exclusive rights to its own studio, Hawaii can offer filmmakers competitive tax incentives, which can save a lot on film production. Hawaii's film production studio offers a one-stop process for acquiring state film permits, and the islands' government and people are welcoming of film crews and movie makers.

History of Film in Hawaii

The legacy of film making in Hawaii began even before the group of islands were inducted into the United States. The first film said to have been filmed on Hawaii was when a crew shot footage during an 18-hour layover in Honolulu in 1898. The films that came afterwards were simple silent movies that documented travel to the islands and depicted the lives of the native islanders. Although Hawaii was hard to access back then, there were a surprising number of silent films made on the islands during this time period, including Hawaiian Love and The Shark God in 1913. When sound finally did become incorporated in Hawaiian movies, it was actually more harmful than helpful to the islands' film industry because of how difficult it was to bring the extra equipment.

Film making on the islands came to a stop during World War II., which ironically helped to spawn Hawaii's popularity for the war movie genre, seen today with the release of the $135 million(USD) Pearl Harbor. The busiest time for film production on the islands was during the 1950s. During this decade a number of B-movies were made on the islands including She Gods of the Shark Reef in 1958.

Current Film Production on Hawaii

Hawaii's film industry has continued to grow. Since the early days of silent film, many big-name movies have been made on the islands. The Hawaii Film Office estimated that $125 million(USD) were spent on producing films on the island in recent years. Here are some of the most well-known movie titles and television shows filmed on the Hawaiian islands:

  • The Amazing Race 3 (2002)(Final episode 12/18/02)
  • The Bachelor (November 5, 2002 episode)
  • Lilo & Stitch (2002)
  • Jurassic Park 1, 2 and 3 (1993, 1997, and 2001, respectively)
  • Mighty Joe Young (1998)
  • Outbreak (1995)
  • Hook (1991)
  • King Kong(1977)
  • Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001)
  • Gidget Goes Hawaiian(1961)

Movie Festivals and Tours

While visiting the Islands of Aloha, vacationers can learn more about the extensive history of film on Hawaii by attending any of the islands' many film festivals and tours. Started in 1981, one of the most popular film events on the islands is the Hawaii International Film Festival. This event is scheduled in November and lasts for two weeks. The main objective of the HIFF is to give people an in-depth understanding of the culture of Hawaii's native people as it has been conveyed through the medium of film.

The Maui Film Festival is also one of Hawaii's popular celebrations of film. This festival is ongoing, and can be found at the Maui Arts Cultural Center. Vacationers can enjoy art-quality films at the festival every Wednesday, and sometimes Friday, evenings at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Along with the films, there is live music, dining, and poetry.


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