Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Pardon My French...

June 29th, 2015

PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., July 2 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a OC16). We've got a fun segment on master illusionist John Hirokawa and the Magic of Polynesia show, plus a cool story about the new North Shore Bike Park at Turtle Bay, which includes family-friendly bike trails, as well as a pump track for advanced riders! Here's a sneak peek.

Our show host, Theresa Tilley, does a terrific job with our segment introductions, promotional spots and on-camera interviews. Recently, a prominent attorney who hired me to do a website video for him commented on her work in a piece we produced about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to help children of immigrants obtain temporary legal status to live in the U.S. He thought she was excellent. No surprise to me, since she displayed the same level of professionalism in the 808HALT human trafficking videos I directed.

She also has a full-time job in sales, representing a huge product supplier for hotels and resorts. Theresa is active with a variety of organizations too, and pops up in lots of photos at fashionable social events with her long-time significant other, Guillaume Maman. "G" as I call him, because my French is terrible, happens to be the General Manager of Loco Boutique. We profiled him in this piece awhile back. Well, G is not just a dashing figure with a charming accent who looks great in formal wear. He's been appointed Honorary Consul in Hawaii by the Consulate General of France -- a pretty big deal from what I understand.

Below is the press release about his new position. Congratulations, Guillaume -- and mahalo to Theresa for sharing this news!

The Consulate General of France in San Francisco has appointed Guillaume Maman as Honorary Consul in Hawaii, effective May 06, 2015. Mr. Maman has been a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii for 28 years and is originally from Paris, France. While in France, he served in the French Airborne Forces and received the medal of National Defense.

Guillaume Maman earned a French Baccalauréat in math, physics and chemistry, studied Economics at the University of Montpellier and a Master’s degree in Finance at La Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 1996, he has been heading a Hawaii based swimwear retail and manufacturing company, Loco Boutique, with locations in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Japan. He has also been the chairman of the Matsunaga Charitable Foundation since 2006 and a board member of the Alliance Française of Hawaii since 2007. Prior to his current position, Mr. Maman held many executive positions with high profile companies such as Louis Vuitton and Waterford Wedgwood.

As Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii, Mr. Maman perpetuates the mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in Paris. He directly collaborates with the Consulate General of France in San Francisco to provide assistance in administrative affairs and protection of French nationals settled or traveling within the state of Hawaii. He also represents the French Republic at official and cultural events in Hawaii and facilitates in deepening the relations between France and the United States.

Guillaume Maman succeeds Patricia Lee following her 18 years of service to the French government as Honorary Consul for Hawaii. “It is an honor to continue the tremendous service that Patricia Lee has provided to France and Hawaii. I feel blessed to have been raised in France and built an executive career in Hawaii, this has provided me with a deep understanding of the cultural differences and similarities between these two places I call home. I hope to serve as a bridge between France and Hawaii.” remarked Mr. Maman.

The Honorary Consul of France office is located at 1436 Young Street, Suite 303, Honolulu, HI 96814. Hours of operation- Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4pm to 6pm or by appointment Monday thru Friday.

TV, Film Startups Help

March 18th, 2015

As producer of the Career Changers TV show, I've been following the startup movement the past four years, which has mainly been driven by high tech applications for computers and mobile devices. First, there were incubators to help nascent companies develop their business plan. Then accelerators sprouted up around the country that offered seed money, office space and mentoring, in exchange for equity in startups they hand-picked (usually a 5 to 10 percent stake). Events such as Startup Weekend brought together like-minded entrepreneurs who would pitch their ideas to actual venture capitalists, angel investors and business consultants.

While filming segments on Blue Startups and Henk Rogers of Tetris empire fame, I saw similarities to what writers and filmmakers must go through to sell their TV or movie projects to producers. Many of the same principles apply, like the attention-getting premise or "elevator pitch" that succinctly sets up the concept and the synopsis that spells out what makes this project different or better than similar ideas. But in the TV and movie biz, the script was pretty much the entire franchise plan for the writer. Tech startups live or die based on "proof of concept" and demonstrations of their new product, service or app.

However, with the explosion of multimedia options -- or "transmedia" -- writers and filmmakers suddenly had plenty of other means to get their projects noticed in Hollywood: short films shot on high def video cameras, movie trailer style pitches for unproduced projects, YouTube, webisodes that can transition to mainstream TV, crowdfunding sites, etc. So it was only a matter of time before there were accelerators specifically created to nurture entertainment franchises. We now have one in Kona called Global Virtual Studio Transmedia, which had its first accelerator cohort last year. I learned about it after the application deadline had passed, but was invited to pitch a project for their GVS Boardroom panel event on Feb. 27.

I've been writing scripts for a long time, and had some minor success. Yet I haven't been able to get over the hump. I've often felt the missing ingredient was that to sell my scripts, you had to "see" it because they were written for the big screen and incorporated spectacular visual images -- such as locations in Hawaii related to the legends of the Menehune. Anyhow, I decided to submit a proposal for a franchise based on my feature screenplay, "Stinky Feet and the Secret of Menehune Gulch."

Since I had gotten good responses to prior email pitches I wrote for that script, I adapted my e-queries for the GVS submission and fleshed it out with images of Kauai's lush valleys, dramatic cliffs, underground lava tubes, and what might pass for a Menehune village. The GVS accelerator offers $50K over a six month period to each of the six teams they will select for the next cohort in the fall, which is a very nice incentive for fledgling screenwriters and filmmakers. In exchange for providing funding, facilities in their Kona studio, plus mentors with lots of experience and Hollywood connections, the project creator gives 10 percent equity in the franchise to GVS... which is a strong incentive for GVS to make it work too.

Backing this accelerator, is the State Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, which also has a major stake in seeing winners emerge from the program. Two of the top DBED&T officials -- Georja Skinner and Karl Fooks -- are taking a hands on approach, as I found out when I was selected as one of the eight presenters. Although our pitches were NOT being judged as part of the application process for the next cohort, we were told the feedback should be used to hone our franchise concepts to address questions that would be brought up by the specially-assembled panel. Besides Georja and Karl, there was a former Disney and Pepsico exec, a former marketing exec for Sony Pictures, and people with major movie experience sitting in the audience of about 50 people.

To say I was nervous is a bit of an understatement. I hate speaking in front of groups, and have never been comfortable pitching my TV or movie projects to industry people. But I felt confident in my Menehune concept, and I thought the Power Point I put together right before the event was good.

There was just one problem. When the presenters were gathered to do our run-through, we had to use their system to show whatever media we had. Instead of a laptop with the Presenter's View mode for my Power Point slides (which includes "Notes" at bottom you can use as a cheat sheet) all I had was a keyboard and a big monitor screen slightly behind me on my right side. They gave me a clicker to advance the slides... which had a slight delay. I had printed out my "Notes" text to consult, i.e. read from, if I got nervous and forgot the scripted lines. On top of that, we were limited to exactly five minutes for our spiels, and there was a GVS staffer to my left holding a digital clock.

So I'm trying to remember my lines, checking my printed-out notes, glancing back at the slide on the screen to my right -- crap, that's not the right slide! -- looking back at the clock ticking down to my left, clicking the clicker back a slide, then another... and I realize I'm not even halfway through before my time is up. This is why I hate public speaking. I could feel the pity from the other presenters. All of them did their run-throughs in one shot with not much problem. Me, I was asked to stay behind and do it again. Ugh. How embarrassing.

The second run-through was slightly better after I switched to using the keyboard to advance my slides. It was still running long though, so I knew I had to ditch the scripted "Notes" text and refer directly to the outline or visual images on my Power Point slides when we did it in front of a live audience -- and cameras. Which is another thing that gives me stage fright.

Minutes before show time, I considered bailing. Rather than stand in front of a crowded room and make a sputtering fool of myself, I could just say I felt sick and wouldn't be doing my presentation. The other seven projects were very impressive, and those people had better credentials than me -- or so I told myself. "Stinky Feet"? What was I thinking! Yet part of me knew years of rejections, failures, and even ridicule as a kid, had prepared me for this moment. I started off a little shaky, relying too much on reading my notes. Then when I had to refer back to my outlined thoughts on the screen behind me, I loosened up and got through it okay.

The panel then spent 12 minutes asking questions and commenting on my pitch. The former Disney exec immediately said he had never heard about Menehune, and was so fascinated by the myths that he felt it could be a TV series. The former Sony Pictures guy said he loved the concept. After I explained why the lead kid character is nicknamed "Stinky Feet" by a local bully, I confessed that it got left out because I was terrible at pitching. "I disagree," the Sony guy interjected. "When you stopped reading your notes, your passion and knowledge of your subject really came through!"

Later, Big Island Film Commissioner Ilihia Gionson and his significant other came up to me. He said he really liked my Menehune project even though it's set on Kauai. She said she voted for mine as her favorite of the eight presentations (I didn't win that vote -- a martial arts movie project by a Big Island filmmaker got the audience choice award). But there was one more twist after I returned home to the other Kailua...

The next day, I got an email that said, "Great Pitch!" in the subject line. In my Power Point, I included my email address on the last slide that said, "Pau." You never know, right? It turned out an audience member with contacts in the movie and TV business loved my concept and disagreed with panelists who said it should be a $10 million dollar movie, not the $100 million budget I guess-timated. She wrote that I should stick to my vision of a big movie about little people, and not make it a smaller project just to fit the accelerator's business model. They know it's almost impossible to sell a $100 million project even if I was able to use the accelerator to create a dynamite movie trailer or short film to promote it. But a $10 million film is something they could realistically help set up, and their 10 percent stake would pay dividends.

I want to believe this person who contacted me has the connections that can move my Menehune project forward as a big budget film. If not though, I'd be happy to see it made even if we have to dress up little people like Polynesian Munchkins instead of the expensive CGI "Lord of the Rings" type dwarves, trolls and elves I originally pictured for my Menehune village scenes. And maybe that's the best thing about the GVS Transmedia accelerator... it gives writers like me a chance to dream of seeing our work be brought to life, even if it's not exactly what we hoped for.

Kailua Labyrinth Restored

November 13th, 2014

Kailua labyrinth group


Folks who jog, bike or walk their dogs on the levee next to Kawainui Marsh (along with scofflaws that ride motorcycles back there) may recall the mysterious gravel and dirt labyrinth pattern that appeared in a turnaround area for maintenance vehicles back in 2001 after 9/11. I live right next to the marsh, so when my wife and I first saw it we were enchanted and wondered who was behind it. I had a vague idea that it was associated with meditation practices, but that's all I knew. Over time, the forces of nature and human interactions caused the pattern to erode, then disappear except for a faint outline of the concentric circles.

It was gone, but not entirely forgotten when I joined Cynthia Yamasaki's monthly leadership walk after meeting her at the Honolulu Small Business Fair. She was one of the featured speakers (click here for the video on that event) and we did a segment on her as well. You can see her profile on the Career Changers TV YouTube Channel by clicking here. I was so impressed with her background and energy, I suggested to my wife that she connect with Cynthia since Isabel was looking to expand her professional network (i.e., thinking of making a career change). When we found out Cynthia's "Leaders Who Walk the Talk" was practically in our backyard on the second Saturday of each month, we decided to tag along. And we're glad we did.

Each time we've met fascinating people with varied backgrounds. These seemingly random introductions often led to discoveries of mutual friends and experiences... such as the origins of the labyrinth, which was the spot where we ended the walk to reflect on the theme we were discussing that day. While we were looking down at the weeds, someone said, "We should fix this up." Except none of us knew what it was supposed to look like -- how many circles, where the turns were supposed to be, etc.

I remembered seeing an article about it years ago in the old Honolulu Advertiser, so I did a quick Google search and found this link. I forwarded it to Cynthia, who put it out to her network of friends. Next thing you know, one of the women on the walk -- Lisa Jacobs of Better Way Divorce (interesting concept!) -- recognized a name: Beth Davidaan. Lisa put Beth in touch with Cynthia, and we all met at the marsh last Saturday to restore the labyrinth.

As we yanked up weeds and raked the stones back into place, Beth and Chandra Peters (program coordinator at Punahou's Luke Center) explained what the significance of the design is and put it into historical context for us. Many people, myself included, mistakenly think of a labyrinth as being the same as a maze. In fact, they're completely different in intent and form. A maze is meant to confuse you with many dead ends and turns that lead nowhere. A labyrinth though, has just one path to the center, allowing you to focus on the steps you take toward your goal. Mazes can be stressful -- did you see the news stories about people getting lost in giant Halloween mazes and calling 911 in a state of panic? But walking the circles of a labyrinth creates a state of calmness. It can also be an emotional experience.

It's funny how life's twists and turns often bring you back to the same starting or end points. That morning it had been raining in Kailua, and being the natural worrywart that I am, emailed Cynthia with a weather report, thinking we'd have to postpone our plans to fix the labyrinth. She replied cheerfully that rain or shine, they were going to proceed as scheduled, and added: "I made brownies too!" That's the difference between men and women. Men would argue about logistics and the weather conditions for doing a project like this. Women make brownies, then hope for the best. As it happened, the rain made it easier to pull weeds and kept the dust down. The sun eventually came out, and when we were finished, I walked around the circles... I thought about the people I've met in the past four years of doing my Career Changers TV show, and how our lives have intersected. We've become friends and business associates. We've shared professional aspirations and personal dreams.

And because one person simply said, "Let's fix this thing," we came together to create something special. Time and events will wear away the labyrinth again. But someone else will come along and be inspired to take up where we left off. It gave me hope. Plus, the brownies were delicious.


Reminder: Despite forecasts of rain, it seems every time Waimea Valley schedules a big weekend event, Mother Nature cooperates and blesses them with good weather on the North Shore. So if you're looking for a fun family event -- cheap too! -- check out their Makahiki Festival on Sat., Nov. 15! Here's a video preview we did for them.

Lucky Golf Ball Drop Wins $1K+

October 17th, 2014

My wife, Isabel Figel, just made a career move herself and will become the Program Director for the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that provides support for the state's  50 public libraries. Although she doesn't start her new job for a couple of weeks, Isabel has already hit the ground running and wants folks to know about their Helicopter Golf Ball Drop on Friday, Oct. 24 at Kapolei Golf Club.

For a $10 per ball donation, you will have at least a 1 in 1,800 chance (the limit for how many balls can be carried by the chopper) of winning $1,000 if yours is the first ball that goes in the designated hole. The winner's library of choice will also receive $500. Second ball in wins a 50" LED television, on which my Career Changers TV show would look great. (BTW, don't miss our Halloween Special featuring master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui with news about his October Chicken Skin ghost tours!) Third ball gets a $250 Maui Divers Gift Certificate, while the fourth and fifth balls win $100 Gift Certificates.

You need not be present to win, and you can enter online at the Friends of the Library website (click here) or call them at 536-4174 and contribute by credit card over the phone.  Enter as many balls as you like!

It's all part of their 21st Annual Links to Literacy Golf Tournament in Kapolei, which will be followed by a banquet with silent auction. And it's all for a great cause!


On the current episode of Career Changers TV, Lopaka said he could not divulge the name of a location where he was doing Halloween tours this month only. It can now be revealed that the haunted building is the beautiful Hawaii Theater in Downtown Honolulu. They decided it's okay for him to tell the stories of ghosts that are said to make their presence felt in the grand old theater. You can make reservations for the two remaining Thursday night events on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 by going to

To get a sampling of Lopaka's other stories and tours, you can find our daily viewing schedule on www.CareerChangers.TV or see the lower res YouTube versions on our CCTV YouTube Channel... now approaching 700,000 views worldwide!

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Tetris Movie in Works?

September 30th, 2014

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?