Archive for the ‘Hawaii film and TV jobs’ Category

Free Concert Saturday at Waimea Valley

October 3rd, 2014
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Program Alert: The new October episode of Career Changers TV is now airing daily on Channel 12/high def 1012, and features master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui. His special "Chicken Skin" tours for this month will take ghosts -- er, guests -- to places he can't publicly reveal in the media due to legal liability issues, he says. For the details of where and when those excursions into the dark side will be conducted, you'll have to contact him via the Mysteries of Hawaii website!

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday? Waimea Valley is hosting a FREE concert on their beautiful lawn. Below are details from their press release:

Waimea Valley is excited to host the HTA Aha Mele Concert this Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 11am – 4pm. Come enjoy the sounds of Waimea Valley’s Ohana Three, Fresh Ea, Kaiholu, and Kapena along with a hula performance from Ke Kai O Kahiki while relaxing in the shade of the hundred plus year old monkeypod trees on our Main Lawn. The Kalaimoku Group has organized this concert as a part of the HTA Aha Mele Monthly Concert Series sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) “The Ahamele: Monthly Hawaiian Music Series brings people together to celebrate Hawaiian culture through music,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. Waimea Valley’s Na Mea Ono Snack Bar will be onsite with Ono snacks from the grill, and ice cold drinks. Vendors onsite will include jewelers such as April Island Designs, Kaleimaeole, Kiki Sunrise Shells and Solomone Jewelry. Hawaiian Fresh Farms will have fish and chips, fish tacos, shrimp baskets and more along with their Country store serving up goat cheese cheesecake, local honey’s and kombucha on tap. Stollers, blankets, beach chairs, and umbrellas or welcome, no coolers permitted.

Wish I could go, but I'll be attending the UH weekend workshop being given by filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (writer/director of SHORT TERM 12 and I AM NOT A HIPSTER). Destin's topic will be "From Shorts to Features" which can be a practical means of getting attention for proposed movie projects, as opposed to the conventional route of writing a screenplay and hoping it somehow gets greenlighted through the "just say no" maze of Hollywood gatekeepers, who are loathe to take chances on original material.

Destin's career got a huge boost from winning a Nicholl Fellowship, which I can tell you is incredibly difficult. The annual screenwriting competition is run by the Academy Foundation -- yep, the Oscar folks -- and draws upwards of 6,000 to 7,000 entries each year. Since many of the former fellowship winners have gone on to write hit movies, the finalists are often contacted by the top agencies and management firms in Hollywood. I've been a quarter-finalist three times (top 5 percent out of about 6,000 scripts) but never made it further than that. So now I'm considering going the same route Destin took -- produce a short film that can be expanded into a feature if it clicks with people in the movie biz.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, visit the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now over 600,000 views worldwide and climbing! If you have a product or service you want to advertise to locals, we're now booking slots for our special holiday shows. Just drop me an email to find out how we can produce high quality video segments for you at a very reasonable price!

Tetris Movie in Works?

September 30th, 2014
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UPDATED OCT. 3: The public relations contact for Tetris got back to me after I email Henk Rogers, and has confirmed the details in the linked article are true. So the Tetris movie is for real!

I was going to post a program alert about the new Career Changers TV episode that will premiere Thurs., Oct. 2 at 7:30 PM on Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a "OC16") but I just saw a movie biz news item that says the Tetris game is being turned into a live action feature film. According to this article, "The film is being developed by Threshold Entertainment, best known to gaming crossover fans as the studio behind the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. That film, which grossed $70 million, was one of the first to take a video game license to the silver screen..."

Followers of my show may recall we featured Henk Rogers in a couple of segments that told how he got the worldwide rights to Tetris, and about his interest in things like Burning Man. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2. Fascinating guy! I just sent him an email to ask if the Tetris movie deal is for real, and if he had a hand in negotiating the film rights. It's supposed to be a big sci-fi epic. While I'm happy for Henk, it's another sign that Hollywood seems to be out of original ideas for films that might actually appeal to adults with functioning brains.

Speaking of which, my Industry Insider Top 10 finalist script wasn't chosen as the winner... so no all expenses paid trip to L.A. for me to meet with A List screenwriter Sheldon Turner, who provided the premise for the contest, and the industry execs affiliated with that competition. Sigh. I was bummed, but felt my screenplay was one of the better things I've written. So I submitted it to the Black List, which was started by an agent who informally asked other agents and movie execs what their favorite scripts were that year. It became a big thing to have a script on the BL. Many of those BL scripts got produced and became hits with critics and the box office. For writers who weren't on the A List or still waiting for their breakthrough sale, getting on the BL could be a tremendous boost to their careers.

The creator of the BL, Franklin Leonard, began a commercial version to rate unproduced scripts from screenwriters like myself, who might be seeking representation or hoping for an outright sale to professionals who have access to the posted screenplays. The paid BL readers who evaluate the scripts for $50 a pop, rate each submission on a scale of 1-10 in different categories that agents/producers care about. Anything over an "8" is deemed worth considering and represents the top 5 percent. Thousands of scripts have been rated over the past couple of years since it began. In effect, BL acts as a filter for busy movie execs who rely on professional readers (and certain contests) to separate the crap from the diamonds in the rough.

Anyhow, the script I wrote for the Industry Insider contest scored an ''8"... which puts me on the hot list for recommended screenplays in Hollywood. It's called BLOOD MOON, and is based on the "inugami" curse -- kind of like a Japanese version of the werewolf legend -- which I first read about in the late Glen Grant's "Obake" collection of local ghost stories.

As fate would have it, I got to know Glen's protege -- Lopaka Kapanui -- who continues to uphold his mentor's legacy by retelling stories he first heard while working as an assistant to him. Lopaka finally got the rights to use the "Chicken Skin" name for his own ghost tours, and has some special events he'll be doing for the month of October. You can here more about that, plus his recent marriage to Tanya, by going to the CCTV YouTube Channel where we've posted segments from the new episode. Strange how it all comes round, huh?

Deadlines and Routines

August 6th, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new August episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on channel 12/high def 1012, and will feature the Pacific Aviation Museum -- plus a profile of Burl Burlingame, the former newspaper writer, who is also a book author, musician and now works as curator at the museum. There's also a preview of their upcoming Biggest Little Airshow on Aug. 16 and 17 at Ford Island! For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

In my last blog post, I mentioned I'm a finalist in a national screenwriting competition that required the top 10 entries to complete a new script in about two months. Screenplays for feature movies average around 100 to 120 pages with each page representing about one minute of screen time. So cranking out 10-15 pages per week is pretty doable for most writers. The challenge though is writing good pages that will survive the inevitable edits, cuts, and rewriting that comes with producing a workable script. If you're writing a novel, you can wax poetic, spend time inside your characters' heads, describe locations in detail right down to the blades of grass or hue of the sky. Not so in screenplays, which have to move fast since Hollywood readers often make up their minds on whether they will read the script after just one or two pages. By page 10, many have already decided if it's a "pass" or "consider."

So I was churning out pages the first month, and thought they were pretty good. Except my story coach would pick apart scenes and prod me to develop the characters more in each of our weekly phone sessions, which is what makes this contest a unique experience for aspiring screenwriters. Script consultants like the one I'm working with charge as much as $75 per hour for their feedback (my sessions are free, courtesy of the contest); notes can range from a couple hundred bucks to a thousand or more. There are so many wannabe screenwriters/directors/filmmakers that a cottage industry has developed in L.A. to tap into that market, which generates 30,000 to 40,000 new scripts that are registered with the Writers Guild each year. Of those, less than five percent will even have a remote chance of being seriously looked at by industry players.

And this contest is one way to get to the top of the wannabes heap... if I win, that is. The problem is I was making up much of my new screenplay as I was going along, while dealing with the demands of producing my TV show and other video projects -- all on deadlines too. Then, after taking in what the story coach criticized or suggested, I'd go back and make changes that improved the script but put me behind schedule. My normal routines were thrown out of whack -- which can be a good thing. Sometimes we get stuck in ruts and do only as much as we're used to doing out of habit. We forget how much we're actually capable of accomplishing, unless we're pressed by outside forces.

With just one week left to turn in the first draft, I was at page 55 -- mid-point -- and had to write another 50 pages in seven days. To begin with, I'm not a fast writer by nature. Some of my prior scripts have taken years to complete or even start because I'd be carrying around ideas for a long time before the story kicked in. Also, I tend to procrastinate unless I'm faced with a deadline... which might be related to my early writing career as a news reporter back in New Jersey. Somewhere along the way, I got into a mindset that my normal routine was to do "x" amount of work per day to be finished on "y" to meet deadline "z" -- it's how I chunk out tasks and allot time to multiple projects I'm usually juggling.

But even for me, the prospect of crafting 50 plus script pages -- actually twice that since I know I'll delete half of what I write -- was daunting. Yet exciting too. Some days I woke at 4 AM to start work. My mind would keep writing even when I stopped to eat or watch TV before going to bed. I wasn't sure what direction the story was going in toward the end, and when I was stuck, my subconscious sometimes provided answers through the characters I had created. Somehow, I got the draft done and submitted it with a couple of hours to spare.

However, that was just the first deadline. A week later, I got back detailed notes from another reader/story analyst as part of the contest steps, and now have until Aug. 16 to turn in the final draft that will be possibly read by an A-list screenwriter and top management company in L.A. The notes were spot on and pinpointed story problems that were largely a result of making stuff up on the fly in the mad dash to the finish line for the first draft.

It's amazing how much we can do when we force ourselves to buckle down and deliver the best work we can do on a shorter timetable. Some people thrive on that kind of pressure. Others can't handle the stress of performing on demand. What's funny is when my wife and I are watching reality shows like Project Runway or Top Chef, there are always one or two competitors who seem so fragile and unable to cope with the time constraints, you wonder why they even wanted to be on the show in the first place! It's like that old saying, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen -- but if you enjoy competing, seek out opportunities that will bring out the best in yourself.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, check out the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now at over half a million views worldwide, and climbing!

Waimea Valley Concert and More

July 18th, 2014
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Just a quick post to let folks know that Waimea Valley's scheduled concert for Sat., July 19 from 1 - 5 pm is still on, rain or shine! Sounds like the tropical storm heading our way will not begin to affect Oahu until tomorrow night, so conditions should be okay on the North Shore. Also, they put up tent canopies on the lawn to provide shade on sunny days, so if there are pop-up showers you'll stay dry.

My wife and I went to the June concert that opened this year's summer series, and it was just wonderful -- great line-up (Jerry Santos, Brother Noland, Led Kaapana), beautiful setting, warm vibes from the mostly-local audience. Even the performers got chicken skin and commented on how it touched them to perform in the valley. They also took note of how good the sound system was. That's another thing I loved about the concert: they talk story in between songs, tying the music into their personal stories of growing up in Hawaii,  the changes they've seen in the islands, and their relationships with other local musicians. You can't get that from listening to a CD or iPod.

There are still tickets available for the Saturday concert, which will feature ukulele virtuosos Eddie Kamae, Imua Garza, Kalei Gamiao and Brittni Paiva. For details, visit www.WaimeaValley.net. For the price, you cannot beat this deal -- well, you could go to a freebie concert in Waikiki, but I doubt you'll get very good seats or have the same kind of atmosphere you will find in Waimea. It's truly a special experience and worth a trip to the North Shore.

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One reason I haven't been blogging of late is I'm on deadline for a screenwriting project. It's tough to break into Hollywood, but there are reputable contests that have launched careers for aspiring writers and directors. Maybe you've seen the new Spielberg sci-fi series, EXTANT, which stars Halle Berry. That script was discovered through an online contest. Another movie in the works, THE DISCIPLE PROGRAM  starring Mark Wahlberg, was written by a guy who won the same contest as the EXTANT creator. Well, I'm one of 10 finalists chosen from about a thousand entries in the latest round of that very same contest (details here), which has a unique twist...

In most screenwriting contests, you submit original scripts in their entirety. But the Industry Insider competition takes a premise from an A-list screenwriter and entrants submit the first 15 pages based on that writer's idea. In my case, the logline/story idea was provided by Sheldon Turner, who wrote one of the X-Men movies and UP IN THE AIR, starring George Clooney (Sheldon's script adaptation was nominated for an Oscar). After I was selected as a finalist, they paired me with a story/script "coach" in L.A., who I consult with each week to go over new pages. The process and feedback has really helped me grow as a writer, while improving the script I've been working on. The first draft is due next Friday, so I've been working overtime to meet that deadline. The winner will be flown out to Hollywood for meetings with Sheldon Turner and a top management firm that reps many successful screenwriters.

It's an exciting opportunity for me as a writer. However, trying to juggle that challenge with my other job producing Career Changers TV and side video projects, has been a reminder of an old adage: Be careful what you wish for!

Now I just have to deliver the goods.

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For daily viewing times and info about the July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also see segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!

 

Happenstance in Chinatown

May 24th, 2014
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A writer friend I've collaborated with on a couple of screenplays posted on Facebook that a word you rarely see these days is "ubiquitous." Which seemed ironic to me, since social media forums such as FB can turn a forwarded video, photo, comment or cause into something that millions of people will see on computers, smart phones, then later on national TV shows, even local morning news spots about today's "Viral Video" or "Trends & Talkers" segments. It's everywhere you look -- ubiquitous, in other words.

And since I'm in the media biz, writing scripts for TV/movie projects, plus producing a local OC16 television show that often features newsworthy people, my life is filled with moments of convergence... a surreal blend of real life merging with online interactions, nationally-broadcast TV shows, and live local news programming. One day I'm interviewing a subject for Career Changers or blogging about it in the Star-Advertiser, the next day or on the evening KHON News, I'm watching that same person talk about their biz or responding to complaints (like the new vertical wind tunnel at The Groove Hawaii, which is on this month's show). Then I hit play on my DVR, and see another familiar face appearing on a Food Network or History Channel show after we had them on Career Changers awhile back. A week or two later, I run into the same person(s) while out and about looking for my next story, completing the Circle of Media Life.

That just happened to me again this past week. I bought discounted Groupon tickets for the Honolulu Exposed Red Light Tour because I had never heard of it before, and it sounded interesting: take a walk through the seedy side of history in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. Having researched stuff like opium dens, brothels, small pox outbreaks and other unsavory elements of Hawaii's past for scripts I was working on, this sounded like something right up my alley. Also, I wondered why no one else had offered this type of tour -- there were ghost tours, walking tours that focus on architecture, straight G-rated history, but nothing that included places like Club Hubba Hubba or the infamous Glades (btw, local filmmaker Connie Florez is producing a documentary about that... click here for details).

Now bear with me, because this trip down the rabbit hole interweaves a few seemingly-unrelated threads that all come together in the end. Last Saturday, my wife and I arrive at the Hawaii Theater where the Red Light tour starts at 9:30 AM. But we're early and having driven from Kailua after a couple of cups of coffee, need to find a restroom. Back in January 2012, my show was the first to air Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock's plans for a badly-need public restroom, which her Chinatown biz organization had raised money for. However, the experimental toilet program didn't receive enough funding to continue, ergo no place for us -- or other locals, visitors and of course, the ubiquitous homeless people -- to relieve ourselves. The closest coffee shops weren't open at that time, so my wife wound up walking down to the police station.

While waiting for Isabel to return, I nervously observed a rail-thin, wasted-looking woman growling and yelling madly at whoever walked past her across the street from me. She was scary, to put it mildly. On the way to the theater meeting spot, my wife and I had to stroll past smelly, filthy homeless men and women on just about every street and occupying every open space around the Hawaii Theater area. I'm not making any judgments -- just telling you what we experienced. What the solution is, I don't even know where to start. Wait, check that. I do know where to begin: by talking about creative approaches that involve partnerships between private interests and public services. I'll eventually get to that.

Anyway, our walkabout in search of a simple toilet answered one of my questions. Q: Why didn't anyone do a Red Light tour before? A: Who the heck wants to come down to stinky, dirty Chinatown in the morning, when you can't even find a public restroom or place to sit peacefully without mentally-ill people accosting you and getting right in your face! Still, having lived in New York City years ago, I've seen worse. Later, the tour guides said hotel concierges won't send visitors to the Chinatown area because of the homeless problem, so that's a major obstacle for their new venture to overcome.

First tour coincidence: the couple who run the Honolulu Exposed tour (click here for their Facebook link) arrive while Isabel is still on her bathroom run, and tell me they just moved here about four months ago and used to work for the Seattle Underground tour. I'm stunned because I had just pitched a TV series idea to the writer friend I mentioned up top, about how the Seattle Underground came into being after a huge fire destroyed much of downtown Seattle, which was originally built at sea level and prone to flooding. This was in the late 1800s. So city leaders figured it was a good time to rebuild the area higher. But cash-strapped biz owners who couldn't afford to go along with the plan, continued running their businesses while the new streets and sidewalks were constructed several feet above their storefronts. Eventually, to stop pedestrians from accidentally falling off the newly-elevated sidewalks, the city built right over the old buildings, creating an underground city where the dregs of society settled. Criminals, prostitutes, scammers, the homeless, all congregated down there. Meanwhile, the Yukon gold rush resulted in many fortune seekers coming to Seattle to deposit their newfound wealth -- making them ripe pickings for crooks. I learned all that from watching a Travel Channel show called "Hotel Secrets and Legends."

As it happens, when I told Clinton and Carter (she's an actress, although the name combo sounds like a Dem presidential ticket from the past) about my TV series idea, they looked at each other and said Clinton was working on a screenplay about little-known stories related to the Seattle Underground. However, he hasn't had much experience writing for TV or movies... and I have won a few awards, was repped by a semi-famous Hollywood manager, had scripts optioned, etc.

In fact, last week  I got word I'm a Top 10 Finalist in the Industry Insider contest, which spawned two prior winners who have gone on to major success: that new sci-fi series "Extant" starring Halle Berry in the ubiquitous CBS commercial spots; and a movie in the works called "The Disciple Program," starring Mark Wahlberg, landed on the vaunted Black List for unproduced scripts in 2012 after winning the Insider contest. So I'm in pretty good company just to make the finalist cut, and I'm thinking this Seattle Underground connection timing could be fortuitous if I happen to win and get some Hollywood heat. The tour hasn't even started, and already things look promising.

Just then, Isabel returns and says, "Look who's here!"

To be continued...