Archive for the ‘Hawaii film and TV jobs’ Category

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...

 

 

RoboCop Redux

February 19th, 2014
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Although I haven't seen the new RoboCop reboot/remake/re-imagining or whatever you want to call the latest incarnation -- or reincarnation, if you will -- I do have a personal connection to the original man-as-machine sci-fi action flick that came out in 1987. Since I frequently mention my failed screenwriting career as the impetus for becoming a local TV show producer, some of you may recall from past blog posts that a co-writer of the first RoboCop took a liking to an early script of mine and tried to get it produced through his contacts in the movie business. This was about 20 years ago, and after months of rewrites, nothing happened with the project.

Well, that's not entirely true -- stuff did happen. I learned a lot about how Hollywood works, and the reality of what it's like to be a screenwriter or producer from the phone calls and Fed Exed script notes I got over the next few months. Back then, writers weren't using email and Skype to communicate. There also wasn't a web-based cottage industry of script scouting services, screenwriting consultants, and dozens of contests that claim they can provide aspiring writers with access to top industry contacts if they win. Back when I banged out my first scripts on an electric typewriter, it was mostly about making personal connections in the business and finding a mentor who could help you get your foot in the door. To a certain degree, that's still true -- writing a great script is crucial, but you have to get it in the right hands. And that takes persistence, creativity or luck.

In my case, it was all three. I had written a dark comedy based on my 1988 stint in rehab for alcoholism, followed by a bizarre punk rock musical comedy about an aging loser who becomes the poster boy for the ultimate lifestyle makeover company... which is really a front for a global entertainment conglomerate that has designs on remaking entire cities and brainwashing residents into buying all their mass media products -- music, movies, TV, merchandise -- from the cradle to the grave. Yeah, like Disney or Comcast. This was around 1994 before merger mania and the internet giants started turning that fanciful notion into reality. Yet I didn't think the co-creator of RoboCop would be seriously interested in my script when I signed up for a University of Hawaii screenwriting workshop given by Michael Miner.

At best, I hoped he would give me professional feedback, which was part of the deal for participants. When each writer got up and pitched their script, he would listen, offer a comment or two on the scripts he had read, and work in some personal anecdotes about his experiences in Hollywood. I have a fear of public speaking and have blanked out in front of groups before, so unlike some of the others who got up and enthusiastically acted out parts of their script, I nervously tried to read a synopsis of the plot. After I finished, a young UH coed with short red hair held her hand up and asked in a bored tone, "Is it supposed to be funny?" Ugh.

But Miner quickly interjected, and told them it was very funny despite my terrible pitch, and tried to retell a scene from it. The other writers just sat there stone-faced. He shrugged and said you had to read it on the page to get it. Later, during a break, he walked over to the little classroom desk I was sitting at and said he liked my screenplay a lot, then added: "We should talk." That turned into a lunch meeting, and a subsequent offer to help me develop (i.e., rewrite) my script and shop it around. One reason he sparked to it was that before he wrote RoboCop, he was a cameraman and had worked on music videos -- my protagonist was a failed punk rocker, who winds up working a dead end job in a Hoboken record store before those became extinct too. He did take the finished rewrite to the president of MTV Films, who passed (they were making movies about singing cockroaches that were geared to their key demographic of 12 to 15-year-old boys) and another movie production company that had ties to the music biz. They passed too.

It was disappointing that the project never got off the ground. However, during that time period I continued writing new stuff that also got attention through big screenwriting contests and other personal referrals... and I've had at least half a dozen scripts get close to being sold or optioned for development, only to fall by the wayside as well. During the past 27 years since the original RoboCop came out, Miner has made a nice living writing a number of projects that weren't produced or got rewritten, but he's never had another movie that has gotten the same critical or popular acclaim of that iconic film. He still writes, has made smaller documentary films, and is an accomplished photographer with gallery showings of his work (some of his beautiful black and white landscapes were taken on the Big Island, in fact). We exchange Christmas cards, and I follow him on Facebook. For the record, he's posted favorable comments about the new take on RoboCop as a reflection of the times we live in now, not the world that existed in 1987.

In hindsight, it's easy to see why he took an interest in my script about recycling and repackaging old TV shows, music and movies for future generations of brain-dead consumers. At its heart, the original RoboCop was a smart satire about privatizing government services such as law enforcement, and mine was a satire about the lack of originality in the entertainment business. The irony is we never foresaw the entertainment powers-that-be taking a classic like his movie and giving it the makeover treatment. For better or worse, I suppose it's better than fading away and being forgotten.

If you've seen the new RoboCop, would love to know you're thoughts on it! Comments are open for now...

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Valentines Day is over, but you can still catch our segments about Watanabe Floral in the current Career Changers TV episode! Click here for daily viewing times and the link to our CCTV YouTube Channel. BTW, in the same show there's a segment about what's new at Waimea Valley... FYI, they have begun offering guided hikes by the Hawaiian Hiking Company and off-road expeditions through North Shore EcoTours. Both are great ways to experience the valley in exciting, new ways!

Menehunes Hoax, Miscellaneous News

August 26th, 2013
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Thanks to the internet and YouTube, this blog and video segments from my Career Changers TV show has led to contacts from all over the globe. TV producers from the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Food Network have either emailed me or been in touch with people who appeared on CCTV to do their own pieces for national audiences. Sometimes they use my stuff as research or backstory, which is cool. But last week I got a good laugh when I opened this email:

Hello, Rich - I am a researcher with a television production company located in Hampton, Virginia called m2 Pictures. We produce a documentary-style series for the Destination American Channel called “Monsters and Mysteries in America.” Within each episode of this series, we explore accounts of monstrous and mysterious happenings throughout the United States.

In our research, we recently came across reported encounters with the Menehune, and were interested in featuring those stories in one of our upcoming episodes. In each episode we invite locals, experts, and those who have personal encounters to participate in on-camera interviews to help us tell the most complete and accurate story of each paranormal phenomenon. I recently came across an article you wrote for the Star Advertiser discussing the potential discovery of a Menehune Village by photographer Ann Thompson. I was wondering if you might be interested in speaking with me about your knowledge of the Menehune?

She was referring to my Star-Advertiser blog that was posted on April 1 (this one). Somehow, the date didn't tip her off that it was a prank (and a plug for my unproduced family/adventure script based on the Menehune myths and legends). After I replied to her, she wrote back that she felt a "bit foolish," but took it all in good spirits. What's more, she was going to follow up on some of my other suggested contacts who may wind up on that TV show to talk about their paranormal encounters.

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Speaking of local connections that have appeared on nationally-broadcast shows, I ran into Camille Komine of Camille's on Wheels food truck fame, at the annual Kailua Racquet Club Doubles Tournament last month. If you follow her on Twitter, you might have noticed she hasn't been Tweeting much about where she'll be next. That's because the club hired her to do their food service for  KRC members and tournament sponsors' dinners, which was a big hit. She's also been doing more private catering. In fact, she said Heidi Klum requested her to do all the cooking for Heidi's entourage when she was here in April (and got attention for saving her son from drowning). That was no April Fool's joke.

Camille has been featured on a couple of Food Network and Cooking Channel shows. The one she really enjoys talking about is Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, otherwise known as Triple D. According to her, Guy's research staff does a very thorough job of vetting possible candidates for the program, and she was certain that the piece we did on her for Career Changers TV helped convince them she would be good on camera. Here's that video link from our growing YouTube archives.

I asked if the Kailua Racquet Club experience has given her the itch to open her own full-fledged restaurant. She smiled and said there are no immediate plans, but I got the feeling that if the right location comes along at the right time, we may see her trade in her wheels for something with four walls and a door.

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Also, keep your eyes open for a favorite of local foodies making their own move from farmers markets and pop-up kitchens to a new home once occupied by Pacific Gateway Center's Lemongrass Cafe on North King Street near Chinatown. Due to budget cutbacks, PGC is moving their offices to their Kalihi kitchen incubator location, and renting out the N. King Street space to bring in more revenue. An announcement should be coming in the next week or two about the new restaurant that I think is going to excite many folks.

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You can still catch the August episode of Career Changers TV daily on OC16 until Sat., Sept. 7. Click here for viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel. Got more great stories for September, including some scoops you won't see anywhere else. BTW, I'm lining up sponsors for the big Halloween show and Christmas episode, so send me an email if you're interested in advertising!

Tasteful Nudity

July 18th, 2013
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Did that get your attention? Good, because I have something serious to say, although I did want to comment on the HBO series, Game of Thrones -- which my wife and I are loving, now that we've finally caught up with it through Netflix. There are great visuals, intricate plots, violent (yet imaginative) battle scenes, and yes, a fair amount of gratuitous nudity and sex in certain episodes. It's sort of like an R-rated version of Lord of the Rings for adults. At its heart though, is the dwarf character, who starts out as a wastrel and uses his wits as a way of compensating for his "half a man" stature. Watching him adapt and grow, metaphorically, into a cunning leader by using his skills of lying, deal-making and common sense observations, is inspiring. He's the ultimate underdog, who relishes the Game. But his most important quality is empathy.

We root for Tyrion Lannister, aka "The Imp," because he identifies with those who are mocked, beaten down or abused. He doesn't get on his high horse or moralize about the fairness of life or offer empty platitudes about helping others. He just shows it by small gestures, pardon the pun. However, those little things he does are magnified by the pettiness of his bigger, stronger siblings and their might-makes-right approach to ruling. Every wannabe politician and government official should study The Imp's character arc.

Oh, where was I? Ah, yes... the real point of this post was to direct you to a documentary that is available on Netflix via instant streaming: Chasing Ice. For anyone who is a skeptic of global warming concerns or thinks Al Gore was exaggerating the threats posed by climate change when An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, all I can say is watch this movie. Now. Not only does it show proof that glaciers are melting -- it's happening much faster than anyone could have predicted. Sometimes, reality is scarier than any big budget disaster flick.

And that brings me to the latest Godzilla remake. The local TV "news" media has been all atwitter about the millions of dollars spent and hundreds of extras being employed while cameras roll in Waikiki, as part of future scenes of death and destruction coming to a theater near you (and will probably bomb like the last Godzilla remake). Wow, isn't that great! We get to see Hawaii demolished in another overblown Hollywood exercise in crap-tastic recycling of familiar monsters and cliche action "heroes" who don't seem to care much about threats to the human race until giant mutant creatures or hostile aliens show up.

So here's my gripe: Destruction is easy. Making movies about fake disasters is fun and exciting for those who get to be part of the experience. But making people care about real catastrophes that are occurring right now is hard. We'd rather look away from evidence of actual threats to the planet and escape into apocalyptic fantasies than do something to address clear and present dangers to humanity. Imagine if we -- or these giant entertainment companies -- would just put a fraction of the time and money they spent on the fake destruction of Waikiki, into something constructive... like helping some of the homeless get off the street, or fixing our aging infrastructure, or --

I forgot. You'd have to be living in a fantasy world to think we should expect our leaders to engage the public and rally them toward doing something useful. Instead, we get politicians who show up on Waikiki film sets for photo ops and a chance to hobnob with Hollywood royalty. I can see that little dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, smirking at our folly while knowing "Winter is coming" -- except in our case, winter is global warming, and rising sea levels.

If you want examples of real heroes, I nominate the filmmakers of Chasing Ice and An Inconvenient Truth. It requires true courage to tell people they have to wake up and take action before it's too late. End of rant.

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On a cheerier note, the world will not end tomorrow, so you still have time to see the July episode of Career Changers TV on OC16! Click here for daily viewing times, or visit the CCTV YouTube Channel to watch segments from past and current shows.