LIHUE — The “Hunger Games” franchise is on fire.
The bestselling trilogy written by Suzanne Collins is now a series of blockbuster films. The first two movies earned $1.5 billion in total box office earnings, while the third part, “Mockingjay, Part 1,” earned $123 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend in late November. And while people associate names like actress Jennifer Lawrence with the movie, here’s another one: Adrian Jebef.
Jebef, a 1996 Kauai High School graduate, worked as the movie’s digital imaging technician.
It isn’t the first mega-hit on his resume, either. His Internet Movie Database profile boasts films like “Spider-Man 2.”
“I always wanted to go to the movies,” said Jebef. “As a child I gravitated toward the storytelling. … I was really attracted to the drama and stories of it.”
At Kauai High School, Jebef became involved in theater and graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2000. When he met people from Hollywood, he became serious about pursuing film as a career.
“l started working on no-to-low budget projects and did that in New York for about a year,” said Jebef. “It’s a slow road; you start off making no money, but it’s like anything else, eventually you get there.”
As Jebef continued to climb the ladder of success, he earned the title “digital imaging technician,” and worked on many large budget movies and TV shows, including “Spider-Man 2,” “Numb3rs” and “Bones.” However, it was in 2013 that Jebef got the chance to work on the blockbuster movie “Mockingjay, Part 1.”
“I was hired through the main cinematographer of ‘Mockingjay,’” said Jebef. “I’m responsible for how we shoot the film. … We create on-set color in real time, we make it darker, we make it moody. ‘Mockingjay’ is a dark movie and that’s what we were going for, to create that dramatic feeling.”
One person proud of Jebef’s career trajectory is his father, Adolf Befurt, who lives in Wailua.
“He was No. 1 in my life,” Befurt said. “For a country bumpkin, he came a long way and did well … beyond my expectations.”
While Jebef is thrilled he’s fulfilling his film dreams, he’s quick to point out that it comes at cost.
“It’s a very chaotic experience, as glamorous as it seems on the outside,” he said. “The unfortunate thing about movies is that they take you away from home for a long period of time. … The hardest part is trying to keep your focus. It’s a very wearing experience, especially when you’re on set like I am. The nicest thing about this is that you get to be family with the crew members you’re working with.”
Jebef will also be the digital imaging technician in “Mockingjay, Part 2,” the sequel to the expanding movie franchise.
Jebef, who lives in California now, remembers his island home fondly.
“Kauai was awesome. Kauai is definitely a peaceful place, in terms of growing up; it’s the best thing you can do as a child,” said Jebef. “I look forward to going back. I do miss it.”
Jebef also offered advice for those who seek to follow their dreams.
“The best advice is to have a very clear point of view on what you’re trying to accomplish in the future, to speak out and to seek out any mentors who can help you get there,” he said.