Musician, digital wizard Heckmann opening full-service film production support studio

“Unleashing the full potential of creativity” may become a bit easier thanks to one man’s vision and the aloha spirit, says the owner of a Kapa’a company whose audio and video production studios are probably the most extensive and high-tech found on Kaua’i.

By creating a network of local companies and businesspeople, Peter Heckmann, owner and senior producer of Heckmann Multimedia Productions (HMP), has built what he believes to be the only company on the island that can provide production facilities, equipment rentals, production support, Web design and support, marketing and education for all aspects of the entertainment industry.

Heckmann and principal partner Enock Friere, of the California-based multimedia consulting firm YDIRO Ventures, created a Web site for the soon-to-released film “To End All Wars,” filmed mostly in a valley mauka of Koloa in 2000 and starring Kiefer Sutherland. It took three years to find a distributor for a release of the World War II film in the United States. Heckmann’s site features still photos from practically every day of production, documenting the filming process, plus a wide variety of other filming information. Some have called the site the most complete ever built to support a motion picture production.

“(The Web site for) ‘To End All Wars’ was my entry to the film industry,” Heckmann said. “(At first), I knew it was here, but I was not involved.”

Soon after production wrapped on that film, Heckmann began renting out computers to Disney’s production crews working on the animated feature film “Dinosaur.” The bank of computers was set up in a conference room of the Aloha Beach Resort.

Heckmann set up a recording studio in his Kapa’a home, and this year is in the process of building a studio in the C. Ahko professional building in Kapa’a town. The facility is scheduled to open in January.

“We have one thing going for us…when it comes to professional services (for the film industry), the island lacks,” he said.

Partnerships with local and Mainland businesses will make it more feasible for productions to come to the island, Heckmann said. While Kaua’i has professional local production and equipment rental companies, tour companies that can double as location scouts and driving and catering services, that’s just one part of the picture, he said. What Kaua’i lacked, until now, was somewhere to do pre- and post-production, he said.

Heckmann has a list of equipment that would make anyone’s head buzz with possibility. He has 16- and 24-track digital and analog sound mixing consoles, multitrack recorders and keyboards; musical instruments both traditional and electronic; and a shelf full of Macintosh G4s loaded with AVID film and media composers, ProTools and other image editing software for post-production film work.

Heckmann first came to Kaua’i in 1993 on he and his wife Kerin’s honeymoon. She is now a retail manager at Macy’s. They relocated from New York City in 1997. The Heckmanns live in Kapa’a with their 7 1/2-year-old son Alexander and 17-month-old daughter Isabella. With his young children, Heckmann said he loves to watch the new Disney animated movies and other animations like Felix the Cat and shows on the kids’ channel Nickelodeon. A self-described “Tolkien nut,” he’s excited about the current release of “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” a movie based on the book of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Heckmann has a Ph.D. in classical music, but listens to all styles, including dance beats, remixes and electronica, “to find out what the young kids are listening to, to see where the mind set is going.”

Heckmann is originally from Frankfurt, Germany and was a musician and worked in sound design and audio production from 1977-85. He worked with disco producer Frank Farian and Boney M, as sound designer for Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, Doni Hagan (drummer for Marvin Gaye), Helen Schneider on Broadway, and Daryl Buchanan (guitarist for Junior Walker and the Allstars).

His three Ph.D. degrees are in computers and modern music from the off-campus program of the Freie Hochschule Berlin; classical double bass from the Music Conservatory in Prague; and interior design and architecture from the University of Detmold (Germany).

Traveling to the Soviet Union, China, Bali, and all over Europe as a studio musician, Heckmann said that he chose Kaua’i because it is a place similar in spirit to where he grew up, a close community where people takes care of each other.

But, coming here from a network integrations position at IBM Global Services in “the big city” (Manhattan), he quickly learned that his “high makamaka” way of doing everything “now and not tomorrow” wouldn’t work here.

“The island either embraces you or spits you out,” he said smiling. Learning about Hawai’i’s culture is one thing everyone can do, and Heckmann keeps learning. His HMP production company is now producing a six-DVD set entitled “My Hawai’i: Dreams of Paradise,” which includes interviews with kupuna and icons on all major Hawaiian islands. The set is scheduled for release by next spring, and will include images of culturally significant locations.

The world has become a global community, and we face a lot of challenges, Heckmann said. “Tourism is the island’s major economic support, but there are other ways we can grow, the entertainment industry is one way,” he said. Many artists come to Kaua’i to visit, and if HMP can facilitate their creativity while on vacation, all the better, he explained.

The film industry’s Hawai’i resource bible, the “Hawaii Production Index,” is sent to thousands of industry professionals in the United States and internationally. It includes many Kaua’i resources, but no all-in-one companies like HMP, he said.

He plans to work closely with the Kaua’i Film Office and new film commissioner Tiffani Lizama. Her background in customer service, though not necessarily film, is one reason the film office will succeed, he said.

“She has one thing to sell: the island,” he said.

The film industry loves Kaua’i, but a lot of the work goes to O’ahu, which does have a production studio, Lizama noted. The biggest roadblock to filmmakers who want to work on Kaua’i is cost, she said. HMP is going to be one of those companies taking that away, because a lot of pre- and post- production work will be able to be done here, she said.

“I’m excited about the potential for his company, I think it’s what Kaua’i needs,” Lizama said. “He’s going to bring a high level of technology to Kaua’i in the film industry.”

Heckmann Multimedia Productions was founded in 2001, and its staff shares more than 40 years of collective experience as audio engineers, film producers, broadcasting engineers and independent video producers.

HMP may be reached at 822-3822. Go to www.hmphawaii.com on the Web for equipment listings, photographs and more information about HMP.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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