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Keeping Kaua’i on the silver screen

Location experts are key players behind the scenes of ‘Jurassic Park



TGI New Media Manager

With the help of local and

Hawaiian-born coordinators, Kaua’i is retaining its reputation as a “Jurassic

island” with the completion of location filming for the third movie in

Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic Park” series.

Director Joe Johnston, his cast

and crew spent last week filming on the South Fork of the Wailua River, in a

pasture south of Kilauea that appeared in the first film and on Princeville

Corp. land overlooking Hanalei Valley.

The storyline of the film is top

secret, though expected to be along the lines of the two earlier “Jurassic

Park” films, and again set on a Central American island.

A week earlier,

the film company used Dillingham Field on the north shore of O’ahu as a runway


The filmmakers are now back in southern California, where a good

portion of the movie will be shot at Universal’s studio in Universal City. The

ever-improving magic of digital film effects should play a big role, too,

during post-production work.

The film is scheduled for release in the

summer of 2001.

The Kaua’i footage will be used as a backdrop for the third

film in the “Jurassic” series. For now, it’s named “Jurassic Park III” (with

the III resembling the claw marks of a raptor in logos appearing on film crew


The second film in the series was released in 1997 as “The Lost

World: Jurassic Park” and featured a number of Kaua’i locations.


original “Jurassic Park” brought director Stephen Spielberg to Kaua’i in 1992.

Released in 1993, the movie went on to be an all-time top box office attraction


Plans for the recent Kaua’i location filming go back about six

months, when Kaua’i film commissioner Judy Drosd and Hawai’i-born location

manager Laura Sode-Matteson scouted the island for just the right locations for

Johnston, who is taking over the director’s chair from Spielberg this time


Sode-Matteson grew up in Kailua in windward O’ahu and went to

Hollywood in the late 1970s. Her more recent credits include serving as

location manager for “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” and for “Batman Forever” and

“Batman and Robin.”

Earlier credits include location manager for the

Disney adventure film “The Rocketeer” in 1991, and a watershed acting role as

Jack Lord’s on-screen secretary in the final years of the 1970s TV series

“Hawaii 5-0.”

While earning a masters degree in social work at the

University of Hawai’i -Manoa, Sode-Matteson made friends with the “Hawaii 5-0”

crew. After the show folded, she moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and found work at

Orion Pictures, a film and TV company. She worked her way up from receptionist

to an assistant in production planning, then production coordinator and

location manager.

Sode-Matteson said a location manager ensures that

locations match what the director and production designer are looking for. The

job entails advance scouting for a movie after the director picks what he

wants, securing location permits, working with local police and fire

departments and putting locations back into shape once filming is


When asked why director Johnston came back to Kaua’i for

location filming, Sode-Matteson said, “They had such success in the past films,

and Kaua’i is so beautiful.”

She said locations used this time included a

mix of sites used in the earlier “Jurassic Park” films, plus “other ones that

could work for this.”

“Kaua’i is so film friendly,” she commented.

“They really wanted us to come back here,” she added, referring to the

wishes of Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, the executive producer and close

associate of the famous director.

Sode-Matteson complimented Drosd for her

assistance on the film.

“Judy is fantastic. She’s a very big asset to your

county. She works very hard and knows this island,” Sode-Matteson said. “She’s

very knowlegeable about the film business.”

Sode-Matteson said Kaua’i

filming wrapped last Saturday night, with all the principal actors here for

location filming.

Despite the many advances in digital film effects, the

real thing is still needed when it comes to beautiful scenery and backdrops

because “you still have to shoot a location to give it a base,” she


Living proof that youth from Hawai’i can make it in demanding fields

like filmmaking, Sode-Matteson described her own path to success and urged

local students to follow their dreams.

“When I was younger, I knew that

there was more out there,” she said, “but I didn’t know exactly what. In

school, they give you your basic things. I had no idea about the film industry.

It’s so different than anything I imagined.”

New-media manager Chris

Cook can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 222) and

Photo courtesy Kaua’i Film Commission

Jurassic Park III location manager

Laura Sode-Matteson (left) and Kaua’i Film Commissioner Judy Drosd stand along

the Wailua River. The Wailua Marina served as a staging area for filming

upriver on the South Fork of the Wailua River.


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