KILAUEA — John Wehrheim’s high-definition film, “The Edge of Paradise,” is coming to the recently opened Porter Pavilion at Anaina Hou Community Park.
The film chronicles the inner-workings of the North Shore’s hippie and surfer enclave Taylor Camp from 1969 to 1977 before it was destroyed by the state. It features new interviews, surf footage and historical photos.
“A lot of characters came out of the woodwork after we originally made this film,” Wehrheim said.
The camp was started by actress Elizabeth Taylor’s brother, Howard. There were less than 30,000 people living on Kauai, Wehrheim said.
One of those characters, well-known North Shore resident Bobo Bollin, is featured in the film. She tells the story of how she’d sometimes sleep in the middle of the road after a night of drinking when she couldn’t make it home and didn’t have to think about anyone running her over, he said.
“Think about the end of the road now, what it’s become and what huge changes the people out there have gone through, and I think a lot of people will be curious about what Kauai used to be and they’re going to through this film,” Wehrheim said.
It’s hard to imagine that there was nobody out there. It was a different world, he said.
“It was hippies and surfers, he had no rules, no organization. It was pretty much a free for all. He just turned these seven acres on the beach in what’s now Haena State Park and let them do whatever they wanted to do,” Wehrheim said.
The result of that was a community of beautiful tree house architecture that inspired Wehrheim when he saw it.
Like any other community, there were problems and without any written rules, but they were able to stay organized. The community had a water system, churches, zoning and building rules, a sheriff, a public works department, a general store and a school bus stop.
“All without anything that could be recognized as any type of formal structure. So for me to come upon this and to see how beautiful this was and to see how great the light was and then to find out really what it was that I was photographing, I was really taken by it,” Wehrheim said.
The film features a number of local people.
Wehrheim became acquainted with Taylor Camp in 1971 when he was living in Howard Taylor’s guest house. Campers often visited Taylor’s home to borrow tools and would be sent to retrieve them from the camp. As a photojournalist, Wehrheim said he was drawn to the beauty of the camp’s architecture and the beautiful lighting; he knew it needed to be documented.
Taylor Camp was originally released in 2011 and shot in standard definition.
“By 2015 the cost of converting to Hi Def had become affordable, so we decided to do a remake,” Wehrheim wrote. “We had been inundated with new material — historic photos and footage as well as compelling stories from Taylor Campers who were not involved in the original production, people we had searched for but couldn’t find until the project’s publicity compelled these characters to find us. So, we filmed some new interviews, added historic footage and stills, and revised the music.
They completed the remake in March, and it premiered June 2 at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona.
Wehrheim said the final edit cut six minutes from the original film, making it a tighter and faster paced story — “a story that captures what, for many campers, were ‘The best days of our lives,’ when they were living in treehouses on a beach in ‘paradise.’ So, we changed the title to The Edge of Paradise and told a story that illustrates Proust’s adage that, ‘The only true Paradise is a Paradise lost,’” Wehrheim wrote.
Tickets, $10, are available for Saturday showing. A second showing was added Aug. 11.
For tickets: 828-2118 or anainahou.org
Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891, firstname.lastname@example.org