LIHUE — Andrew Weed only recently moved to Kauai, and had never blown a bamboo flute in his life.
He was handed the instrument Friday evening, and at the urging of Kumu Sabra Kauka, sounded the bamboo instrument to resemble the sound of the pu announcing the start of the blessing for the Kauai Film Academy studio and its film project, “Too Much Life,” at the Kukui Grove Center location near the exhibition area.
“I only moved here, and I thought I was too old for any of the parts,” Weed said. “But Eliott Lucas, who along with Edwin Sawyer, the author of ‘Too Much Life,’ lead the project; they encouraged me to come read some parts, and I ended up as Vice Principal Garret.”
The Kauai Film Academy was created in 2010 as a film club that provides professional filmmaking training and creative filmmaking opportunities for the youth of Kauai, stated a congratulatory proclamation from the Kauai County Council that was offered by Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Councilman Derek Kawakami.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Sue Kanoho of the Kauai Visitors Bureau; Randy Francisco, the Kauai Film commissioner; Mark Perriello, president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce; George Costa, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development; and Nancy Kanna, the acting director for the Kauai Economic Development Board.
“I’m so happy,” said Kiana Rodriguez, who was helping with the refreshments. “I always wanted to do something in filmmaking, but I was afraid of going to Los Angeles. I graduated from Kauai High School and spent two years in Oregon, changing my majors while trying to find out what I wanted to do. My dad finally said to come home. That’s when I was hired to help with the casting. I’m so happy because this is what I wanted to do. When the film starts, I’ll probably be the script manager.”
Through Kauai Film Academy programs, students are able to develop their stories and provided technical job-specific classroom training and on-set professional experience utilizing industry-standard equipment, and are able to produce student- driven films from development to distribution.
For some of Kauai’s youth, the Kauai Film Academy is a building block on their journey to become professionals in the movie industry.
“I was trying for Young Harper,” said Alea Sprenger, a student. “But I’m too old. Young Harper is supposed to look Asian, and I don’t look Asian at all. I’ll keep trying, though.”
“Too Much Life” is a modern high school drama set on Kauai and centers around a story about teenagers living in an online world, and the impact and influence social media and the internet has on their lives. The film features a cast and crew comprised of Kauai’s youth and was funded through donations from more than 295 “backers” who pledged more than $102,000 through the Kauai Film Academy’s Kickstarter Campaign, making this one of the Top 30 of more than 6,000 film campaigns, Lucas said.
“This is taking dreams to reality,” Francisco said. “Following the Kickstarter Campaign, these two gentlemen collapsed from the effort. It was crazy, all these colorful, crazy people working together. But I believe — you don’t have to go to Hollywood, we have it right here on Kauai.”