Hawaii film industry manages to flourish amid pandemic, makes local hires

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON) — The COVID-19 pandemic has put Hawaii’s economy in a deficit exceeding $1 billion. The local film industry is starting to flourish after taking a hit for much of 2020, despite the bleak financial outlook. 

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The years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 saw Hawaii’s film industry funnel approximately $400 million into the state’s economy annually. 

According to Georja Skinner, Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s Creative Industries Division Officer, the result of the coronavirus pandemic saw the industry pump a measly $200 million into the economy last year. 

“That economic impact is critical to the livelihood of industry as well as to small businesses,” explained Skinner. 

The year 2020 saw Hawaii go from having the lowest unemployment rates in the country to the highest

Hawaii’s creatives are working to change that. 

“The local film industry is one of the bright spots of the recovery and seeing shows like Magnum PI and actually a landmark year in 2021, we will have three television series, and possibly a series.” Skinner said. “And this is really helped not only workers with a small number of other groups, except that benefit from film coming into the state.”

Hollywood was recently forced to pause production because of the surge in coronavirus cases in Los Angeles, which has directors and producers eyeing the islands. 

“A lot of productions are coming here because of it. we’re getting more and more commercials shooting in Hawaii. It’s benefitted Hawaii a lot,” said director Bryan Spicer. 

That means more job opportunities for local folks, according to Hawaii-based director Bryan Spicer. 

“Every day we’re meeting with new young talented people in the islands,” Spicer said. As it gets busier we need people to produce, direct, write, edit. We have all these needs at our company here.”

Spicer, who has directed episodes of television shows like “House” and “Lost” and counts famed director Steven Spielberg as a mentor, says he wants to nurture new talent at his Oahu-based production company, Sight & Sound. 

“Hawaii is full of new, creative talent,” Spicer said. “That has to do because it’s easier to make a film these days. If you have an iPhone, you can create. We’d like to harness that (at Sight & Sound), to help mentor creatives and fulfill their creative needs.” 

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