Scout & About: The Islands - Hawaii
The state of Hawaii and its four counties are served by the Hawaii Film Office as well as by local film commissions. And thanks to active volcanoes and craters, lush flora and world-class beaches, the state has doubled for alien planets, South African rainforests, Asian jungles, Texas ranchland, West African villages — and Earth as it was millions of years ago.Hawaii has been captivating filmmakers since 1898, when the Edison Co. first shot footage of Honolulu Harbor just seven years after the motion picture camera was invented. Today, the state has a generous tax rebate program that can be credited with driving the growth of production that the state is experiencing, including a record $400 million in direct expenditures in 2010. Qualified filmmakers may claim a 15%-to-20% rebate on their total production expenditures while in Hawaii, including all labor (resident and non-resident) in both the above-the-line and below-the-line categories, as well as talent (with no cap on the talent’s salary) and goods and services.
Maui’s growth as a tourist destination has been matched by its allure as a filming location, thanks to the island’s beauty — and to the availability of a 20% refundable tax credit based on a qualified production’s expenses while filming in county.Qualified productions include feature films, TV shows, commercials and digital media products if their budgets are over $200,000, costs are incurred in-state and are subject to Hawaii’s general excise tax. Any single project can file for tax credits up to $8 million. Clint Eastwood’s 2010 feature “Hereafter” shot its famous tsunami sequence in Maui. Recently the island has hosted Lifetime’s remake of “The Blue Lagoon,” TNT’s new reality series “Drop Zone,” E!’s “Mrs. Eastwood” and Syfy’s “Haunted Collector.” “We’ll soon be hosting Cartoon Network’s ‘Loiter Squad’ and have a very busy slate for the balance of 2012,” says film commissioner Harry Donenfeld.
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The Big Island boasts 11 of the 13 world climate zones, so location diversity is a major advantage here,” reports film commissioner John Mason.Like its neighbor islands, it also boasts a state tax rebate program of 20% of qualified spending, and over the past few years this largest island of the Hawaiian chain has hosted several high-profile studio features and TV shows, including the latest “Indiana Jones” installment, “The Tempest,” “Predators” and “Wheel of Fortune.” The Big Island boasts 11 of the 13 world climate zones, so location diversity is a major advantage here,” reports film commissioner John Mason. But according to Mason, the bread and butter of production is, “more travel, reality, nature, science and catalogue shoots.” Networks and studios taking advantage of the island’s locations have included Disney, ABC, Sony, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, Fox, Lifetime, PBS, BBC, VH1, Cooking Channel and Paramount.
“There’s a certain allure that draws filmmakers to the garden isle,” says film commissioner Art Umezu. “As producer Jerry Bruckheimer tweeted as he landed on spectacular Na Pali coast on the first shoot day of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,’ ‘there are some amazing locations.’ “Recent productions include Syfy TV movie “Piranhaconda,” shot entirely on Kauai; Sony’s Adam Sandler comedy “Just Go With It”; helmer Sean McNamara’s “Soul Surfer”; the opening scene of Universal’s animated film “Hop” and Alexander Payne’s George Clooney-starrer “The Descendants.” In addition, several TV productions, including reality shows and docus, as well as TV commercials and print ads are slated to shoot this summer,” per Umezu.
With a 20% refundable tax credit, seasoned crews, jaw-dropping locations and a film-friendly attitude, the city of Honolulu and its home island of Oahu (Hawaii’s most populous) are the production hub of Hawaii.They can arguable be called the filming center of the tropics. Oahu has hosted hundreds of film, television, commercial and new media projects with a variety of budgets and creative demands, including such recent features as “The Descendants,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Battleship,” “Journey 2; The Mysterious Island,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Soul Surfer” and for television, “Hawaii Five-0,” the “Last Resort” and “Lost.”
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