Hawaii Film Studio looking for improved facilities

Published On: Jan 31 2013 04:47:00 PM HST

This year marks 100 years of the film industry in Hawaii.  Despite the departure of the recent ABC show "Last Resort," industry officials say it has been very lucrative for Hawaii.

For that to continue, industry officials say the state needs to extend the film tax credits and step up and improve its facilities.

KITV4 News toured the Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head, the only state-owned-and-operated film studio in the country.

The studio is quiet now, but "Hawaii Five-O" will be soon moving in to find a mix of new and old.

The old "Five-O" cottages were taken over by termites.  The old "Five-O" warehouse has space, but no air conditioning or soundproofing.

Nearby, a keawe tree was literally held up by a metal pole.

"This is our infamous sound stage, which is so critically important to the state," said Hawaii State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson.

The sound stage came online about two decades ago.  Once the doors are closed, the outside world is shut out and magic is made -- that is, until the air conditioning breaks down.

"You've got to have a contained area to shoot.  You've got to have something where air conditioning doesn't break down on you every other week," said Dawson.

Production companies manage to make it work, piping in air.  They have also added to the facility, providing what the state could not.

It's Dawson's hope the state will step up and fund the necessary repairs.

"The state needs to show that it's going to carry more of its share in terms of that," said Dawson.

That includes extending the ACT 88 tax credits that are set to expire in 2015.

"The choices out there are many and we don't have a corner on the beauty market here in Hawaii," said Dawson.

The state film office has been the victim of economics.  Just three years ago, the budget for the Diamond Head studio was less than $20,000.

That is slowly changing and budgets are increasing.

Dawson believes the studio needs at least $10 million in repairs.  Less than $2 million was budgeted for this fiscal year.


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