Hawai‘i has a stellar reputation as the world’s premier tropical filming location. We want to keep it that way. The Hawai‘i Island Film Office is here to assist productions with their filming goals while helping to protect our delicate resources. Hawai‘i is an amazing place to film for so many reasons: Unparalleled beauty, a talented and hardworking labor pool, diverse locations that range from remote rainforests to urban landscapes, and a unique host culture that sets Hawai‘i apart from the rest of the world.
For decades, Hawai‘i and its cultural and environmental landscapes have made an impression on visitors from around the globe. But as many are discovering, Hawai‘i is more than Hawaiian music, hula and balmy weather. We are proud of our centuries-old traditions in history, language and culture that are thriving in today’s modern world. As with the uniqueness of their language, Hawaiians have a special relationship with the ‘aina (land) which really sets the Hawaiian culture and our Islands apart from the rest of the world. Our fragile natural environment is just as precious.
The Hawai‘i Island Film Office will help productions understand and navigate the cultural and environmental sensitivities that make Hawai‘i such a special place. When choosing a location, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the place or how perfectly it fits within the script. Producers and location managers should be aware though, that depending on the location, there may be cultural or environmental sensitivities to consider:
Certain public lands are adjacent to communities who have concerns about using the area for filming. Some areas are nature preserves, wildlife sanctuaries or home to endangered marine life.
Ancient burial sites are not uncommon, especially in un- developed areas. Many forested areas shroud ancient lo‘i kalo (taro terraces), heiau (religious temple) or other archaeological sites.
There are certain places that require a special process when being requested for filming.
A common tradition in Hawai‘i is to have a blessing performed on the first day of filming at a particular location to properly ask permission for the use of the site and protection from injury during the filming process. In some cases, productions coordinate blessings at each location they intend to use. The kahu, or priest performing the blessing may also serve as a cultural resource as to the proper protocol expected at the location. We also are able to refer productions to historical, cultural and language experts who can provide critical guidance for any given film production, whether or not the content of the project is specific to Hawai‘i or the Hawaiian culture.
So we ask that you consider yourself an honored guest in our home. And before you fall in love with a location, please check with the Hawai‘i Island Film Office to see if it is, in fact, available for filming. We are happy to assist productions in determining what areas may be sensitive and refer inquiries to specific resources that can assist with location requests.