Film seminar hits a high note with students

PUHI — An hour was not long enough for the students.

Following short presentations by the principals involved in BamMan Films’ “Kauai: The Separate Kingdom,” students had many questions at a film-production seminar held at the Kaua’i Community College Performing Arts Center.

Students from schools who took advantage of the seminar hosted by BamMan Films and Kukui’ula Development Co. included Island, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle, Kahili Adventist, Kapa’a High, Kaua’i High, Waimea High, and KCC.

Despite the rain that fell outside, the spirits of the 112 student representatives and chaperones remained high and, following the special screening of the movie, were surprised when Dick Holtzman, president of Kukui’ula Development, called representatives of each of the participating schools on stage so he could present them with checks of support for their respective programs.

Additionally, the students were thrilled when, in answer to Kaua’i Film Commissioner Art Umezu’s question, Holtzman announced that each of the students would receive a poster and a DVD copy of the movie that featured local personalities like Hannah Sirois, Marvin Otsuji, Titus Kinimaka, Jody Kono Kjeldsen, Andy Evans, Tina Brun and Laird Hamilton.

Following the enthusiastic participation of the many students, Umezu wanted to know if he could take a copy of the film to a Locations Expo event he will be attending shortly.

He indicated that he could use the film to promote the natural beauty of Kaua’i, not just in terms of its physical features, but also of its people.

Kinimaka and Hamilton were two of the film’s principals who were on hand Friday, along with Dave Kalama, Jane Kachmer, the film’s producer, and award-winning cinematographer Sonny Miller.

Students recognized many of the names due to their involvement in athletics, more specifically, surfing and big-wave riding, and the film’s principals used this recognition to gear their individual presentations to the students based on how their involvement in athletics got them interested and involved in producing the film as a task from Kukui’ula.

“There is no one way (to get into film),” Kalama told the students and chaperones.

“You might start out in front of the lens, but once you start working, you find out that it takes a lot more than a slash off the lip.”

Kalama explained that, as a wave rider, he needed to learn how to work with the camera operators, on technical aspects such as choice of lenses, how far the crew needs to be away from the action, and more.

He urged the students to be “passionate” about what they’re doing.

“Do it for the right reasons,” he said. “Love what you do, because there are so many paths you can take.”

Hamilton reiterated that point, noting that “it’s easy to work hard if you love what you do.”

But, film making is all about team, Hamilton said. “Not everybody gets to be in front of the camera.”

But, if the guy who is supposed to bring lunch doesn’t do his part, everyone suffers, he said. “His job is just as important as the guy in front of the camera.”

The “team” members did not hesitate in crediting Kachmer as being the glue who pulled everything together in the making of the film.

As a producer, Kachmer coordinated members of the teams, and made sure all of the things were in place before setting out.

Kinimaka added, “The funnest part is creating, from getting a concept in your mind, and turning it into a movie. With sound comes action.”

Kinimaka’s role in the production of “Kauai: The Separate Kingdom” revolved around the audio track, and in answering questions he revealed how the island-style of working enabled them to get some of the soundtracks and still stay within budget.

“Careers in athletics is limited,” Miller told the group. “But, being behind the camera can last a long time.”

Miller explained that, unlike Hamilton, Kinimaka or Kalama, he was a skateboarder, and being exposed to similar media coverage on the Mainland led him to discover a path into cinematography.

As the lead man behind the camera, Miller told the group members that the project started in the first week of November, and the final product was delivered only days before the KCC seminar.

“You cannot make magic,” Miller explained of his position behind the camera. “You just need to be ready when it happens.”

When working with natural aspects of the island that was featured in their final product, Miller said, “There are no guarantees. Nature is one of the hardest things to work with. You get no second chance.”

“Kauai: The Separate Kingdom” involved all the principals, and is a compilation of six days of shooting and over 50 hours of filming, said a press release from officials with Sheila Donnelly & Associates.

Kachmer noted that the six days of shooting was followed by weeks of editing before being able to deliver the final product.

While answering questions from the audience, Hamilton explained that it takes a certain formula to be a good athlete.

There are a lot of things in being a good athlete that a person can take into other professions, Hamilton said, noting that some of these include being able to recover from a mistake.

Kalama reiterated his earlier statement, noting that it was through athletics that he became involved in film making, and “It’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.”

Holtzman was thrilled with the overall response from the students and teachers. “It’s our way of giving back to the kids,” he said.

He indicated that, even after his own children have passed through school, he is interested in knowing what the students need.

Umezu was also thrilled with the participation of the student film makers, urging Holtzman to keep this event on a high priority because it benefits the students first.

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