Could Hawaii's film office be cut? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Could Hawaii's film office be cut?

GB Hajim GB Hajim
Glenn Wakai. Glenn Wakai.
Donne Dawson Donne Dawson

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The latest additions to Governor Linda Lingle's potential layoff list have some island movie makers and watchers worried. Movies and TV productions are big money makers for Hawaii, but they also add more than just revenue. These productions also showcase the state and provide jobs -- important factors during this recession.

From big budget productions, like Pirates of the Caribbean sailing into our waters, to critically acclaimed local productions reaching the big screen. The Hawaii film office played an important role behind the scenes of these movies.

"The Film Commission is the first place a producer, or scout location person, anyone from Hollywood or Japan would go when they go to Hawaii," said GB Hajim, with Island Planet One Productions.

Last year, $146 million was spent by television and film productions here in the islands. Money, many worry, would not be spent here if the film commission staff is out of commission.

"Look at how the state is addressed the budget crisis, raising taxes or cutting bodies . The better approach is to broaden the tax base and thats the film office does. Its a big mistake of killing the golden goose thats been laying some really good golden eggs," said Rep. Glenn Wakai.

From streamlining the film permitting process, to handling the tax credit, over the years the film commission office has built relationships with major film and television production companies.

But now that film commissioner Donne Dawson and her staff of three are on the potential layoff list, there is concern not only movie making in the islands could go dark in the future - but local productions would also suffer.

"Losing Dawson is losing my cheerleader. She's getting the word out about what I am doing to people that could make a difference in my business," added Hajim.

The Hawaii Film Office was started up in 1978, and has grown over the decades. But many in the industry fear, doing without this important link, even for a short time, would shift movie making to other more financially attractive and film friendly locations.

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