Hawaii Island film industry experiences pandemic slowdown

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 4:36 AM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Another economic victim of the coronavirus pandemic this year is the motion picture industry on Hawaii Island, which has experienced a significant decrease in projects.

Only 18 film productions have received permits from the Hawaii Island Film Office this year with combined budgets of $722,000, The Hawaii Herald-Tribune reported Tuesday.

The film office issued permits to 64 film productions across the Big Island in 2019, with producers spending about $7.2 million, Hawaii Island Film Commissioner Justin Finestone said.

The film office resumed permitting in June for jobs that have primarily been small, Finestone said.

The biggest project to take place so far has been filming a second season of a Discovery Channel reality program about commercial fishermen, “Deadliest Catch: Bloodlines.”

A mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from outside the state is the biggest obstacle for restarting the film industry on the island, Finestone said.

“As you’d expect, it’s going to be slow for the time being,” Finestone said. “Most projects can’t really afford to house a crew to do nothing for two weeks.”

Regardless of whether the state loosens travel restrictions in the near future, Finestone predicts the industry will bounce back sooner rather than later.

“By its nature, there’s a lot of ingenuity in the film industry,” Finestone said. “I believe the film industry is able to operate safely.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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