Kauai Film Academy opens new training facility

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Edwin Sawyer, standing, gives out some direction during a table read of “Too Much Life” in the Kauai Film Academy’s new training and production facility at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Skyler Wandasan, Katelyn Lopes and Kaiea Trask rehearse a scene from “Too Much Life” in the new Kauai Film Academy training location and production studio at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Edwin Sawyer, left, and Elliot Lucas go over the script to “Too Much Life” during a read-through in their new training location at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Cast and crew of the Kauai Film Academy greet passers by on the mall through the window of their new location at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The film “Too Much Life” includes these Kauaians in the cast and crew. From left are Karina Reinhard, Andrew Weed, Katelyn Lopes, Karla Saperstein, Kaiea Trask, Kirra Leonard, Katy Hoesa, Skyler Wandasan, Arianna White, Kailea Danielson, Roxie Bass and Andrew Rice, at the Kauai Film Academy new production space at Kukui Grove Center.

LIHUE — Bright fuchsias and shades of blue are dancing out of the once-empty space next to the Kauai Society of Artists’ gallery at Kukui Grove Center.

They’re drawing people to glance in the space’s windows where, inside, students with the Kauai Film Academy are perfecting their craft — and playing air hockey.

“The best part about it is that it’s actually here,” said Kirra Leonard, who has been with the academy for three years. “It’s the perfect movie studio and hangout.”

Thursday was day two in the new Kauai Film Academy training facility and production headquarters for the upcoming feature film “Too Much Life.”

The crew plans to invite the public to a grand opening on Jan. 18, and at the event the full list of official cast members of “Too Much Life” will be announced, after weeks of auditions and callbacks.

Some characters have already been cast, according to producer and director Edwin Sawyer. One of those is Karla Saperstein, who was a newcomer to the movie industry when she auditioned for “Too Much Life.”

“It’s always been a fantasy to act a little,” she said. “I was intrigued, so I auditioned. Sawyer has been very patient with me.”

Roxie Bass and Katelyn Lopes have both been cast into roles they feel are very close to their personalities, and both are already settling into character.

Lopes said her character, Jamie, has a disposition nearly identical to her own, “happy and confident.”

“I’m CeeCee,” Bass said. “I’m excited because I feel like I’m her anyway, I just have to act a bit.”

Sawyer said CeeCee was a role that was easy to cast because it was obvious Bass is very much like CeeCee.

“She’s bubbly and fun, she’s perfect for CeeCee. It’s a perfect fit,” he said.

Katy Hoesa, cast as Molly in the film, said she’s experiencing the opposite end of the spectrum, as her character’s traits are very different from her own.

“She’s fashionable. She’s all into fashion and I’m not really that way in real life,” Hoesa said.

Hoesa plans to find her inner fashionista while spending time in the new Kauai Film Academy studio.

Allowing students to connect with their characters is just one of many reasons Sawyer and fellow producer/director Elliott Lucas were looking for a new space.

In addition being a training space for acting and technical work, a place for planning and filming, and a groovy hangout, the space also has ample storage for props, costumes and the rest of the equipment that comes with film production.

“It’s matured,” Leonard said. “We used to shoot at Chiefess (Kamakahelei Middle School). Now we have a studio.”

The space was completely revamped. Now pink chairs, gray couches and simple tables rest on a wooden floor. A stage sits at the front of the room, with directors’ chairs, lights and a table full of equipment.

An editing bay and blank wall for storyboarding “Too Much Life” sit ready and waiting for the pre- and post-production work for the film, set for next winter.

Air hockey and hot chocolate lurk on the edges for creative downtime and inspiration, and posters on the wall display scenes of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Daisy Ridley as Rey from the “Star Wars” franchise.

“It’s a place to brainstorm and also do YouTube and film,” said Kaiea Trask, who has also been cast in the film.

Skyler Wandasan said it’s the colors that make the space special for her, and many of those colors come from a selection of lights from the set of “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

And the coffee shop is just around the corner.

“It’s a good headquarters,” Lucas said. “It’s central and the mall is a perfect place — it’s safe for the kids, plus we have storage.”


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