Hawaii's Film Industry Shoots Upward

Steve Jarchow
Steve Jarchow

By Diane Ako

HONOLULU (KHNL)- Is Hawaii's film industry becoming a strong global force? That's what one large, L.A.-based film company sees- and it's in Hawaii to make plans for several future projects.

Regent Entertainment says it is the second most active filmmaker in this state, next to ABC'S "Lost," with half a dozen movies shot in Hawaii. It shoots so much here it spun off a subsidiary called Pacific Films. "Tides of War" is one of 6 films Regent Entertainment has shot in Hawaii- with plans to produce many more here.

Tuesday night, Regent met with 40 Hawaii investors to thank them for their support and to update them on upcoming local projects: a Lifetime cable movie, more Dante's Cove series, and a Hawaiian ghost story. It hires 50 local workers for each film.

CEO Steve Jarchow tallies up the economic benefit to Hawaii. "This last year the impact was $16 million. At the end of 2006 it might be comparable or a little more."

Regent Entertainment shoots all over the world: Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Latin America- and wanted another exotic location. "We were looking for yet another production center. With Act 221 in effect it gave us an incentive to get started."

Act 221 provides the incentive for investors like those here tonight to to keep investing, and for the filmmakers to keep the cameras rolling. Jarchow says, "For the Hawaii investors, it gives a credit against their state income tax; and for us it contributes part of the capital to make the movies."

Jarchow says Hawaii already has the ingredients to make it a major player in the movie industry. "It's getting there primarily because people like to come here. It's a bit of an adventure and exciting for people to come here. It provides such a pleasant environment."

Attracting a few more hit shows like Hawaii, North Shore, and Lost will help. "If we continue to be as active as we have been, I think Hawaii will have a substantial presence in the next 2-3 years, but it requires a bit more momentum."

Regent is also getting involved in satellite tv and podcasts. It has made a number of movies in Hong Kong and says its hoping to develop programming specifically aimed at the Pacific Rim.