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Locally Created Media Industry in Focus as “Hawaii” Content Creators Head into Awards Season and Leverage Range of Workforce Development Events at Home

Posted on Jan 18, 2024 in News

For Immediate Release: January 18, 2024

DBEDT’s Creative Industries Division supporting awards marketing for “Aikane,” “The Wind and the Reckoning” and 2024 Slamdance selection “Chaperone”

HONOLULU—Paving the way toward a more vibrant locally created media industry, Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)’s Creative Industries Division (CID) is supporting awards season marketing for local films to reach global audiences, while strengthening and expanding Hawaii-based opportunities for creatives to access craft workshops, events, and master classes.

“Together with the collective efforts of education and nonprofit organizations throughout the Hawaii creative community, we are carving a pathway to connecting audiences around the world with Hawaii films and filmmakers, creating strategic stepping stones towards a robust, independent film and creative media industry,” said Georja Skinner, chief officer of the DBEDT Creative Industries Division and founder of its Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH).

Narrative feature “Chaperone,” written and directed by Hawaii island filmmaker and CLH Producing Fellow Zoë Eisenberg, will premiere at the 30th Annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah from January 19 to 25, 2024. “Chaperone” is one of only six selections to be featured in the Slamdance Breakouts program out of nearly 8,000 submissions. The project was developed by Eisenberg throughout two CLH accelerator cohorts, and in 2023, was shot in Hilo with an entirely Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) cast and Hawaii-based crew.

In addition to the marketing assistance for “Chaperone” and other awards and festival circuit opportunities, CID is supporting Hawaii-made animated short “Aikane” and feature film “The Wind and the Reckoning” throughout the awards season. Both films have been riding a wave of accolades and wins at prestigious and Academy Award-qualifying festivals. “Aikane” has garnered 11 awards, among them the 2023 Made in Hawaii Award for Best Short at Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) and Best Short Jury Mention at the 2023 New Orleans Film Festival.

With the development of pathways from curriculum-to-career, DBEDT/CID embarked in 2023 as a lead working with the University of Hawaiʻi, Department of Education, Career and Technical Education, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi under the federal Good Jobs Hawaiʻi grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The goal is to increase training and skills development and formalize a pipeline to job creation through talent development across the spectrum of creative industries sectors. According to the recent DBEDT Research and Economic Analysis Division report, film and creative media are key emerging industries, ready to scale.

CID is focused on creating opportunities for Hawaiʻi students and residents through CLH partnerships with nonprofits such as the International Cultural Arts Network, Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), and Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking. A recent series of master acting workshops for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii’s television and film industry was conducted at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox from September through December 2023.

O‘ahu-based ‘Ohina Filmmakers Lab wrapped its 2023 workshop at the end of last year in collaboration with PIC, which provided filmmakers an opportunity to submit their short screenplays to be mentored by leading creative minds in the entertainment industry. The mentors then selected film projects to produce as short films, which may lead to development into full feature films.

“The future is promising for local filmmakers in 2024. Hawaii is cultivating local talent both behind and in front of the camera, and creatives have a passionate community from which to initiate and develop projects,” said Eisenberg, a winner of the 2021 ‘Ohina Greenlight Award and who has had prior work supported by Tribeca Studios and Netflix. “With accelerators like Creative Lab Hawaii and the vital support CID is providing to advocating for our community building creative media infrastructure, we have an environment in which local filmmakers and our dynamic stories can thrive.”

Digital assets are available here.

About the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)
DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation-sector job growth.

About Creative Industries Division (CID)
CID, a division within DBEDT, is the state’s lead agency dedicated to advocating for and accelerating the growth of Hawaii’s creative economy. Through initiatives, program development, and strategic partnerships, the division and its branches implement activities to expand the business development, global export and investment capacity of Hawaii’s arts, culture, music, film, literary, publishing, digital and new media industries.

About Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH)
Creative Lab Hawaii was founded in 2012 by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic, Development and Tourism Creative Industries Division to accelerate the growth of Hawaii’s creative entrepreneurs through immersive, hands-on training in broadband/new media, producing, screenwriting, interactive media, music and design/fashion. A key facet of Hawaii’s creative economy, CLH is developing an ecosystem to increase export, attract investment and build the state’s creative entrepreneurial capacity in media, music and fashion/design. CLH features three program components: 1) Immersive Programs; 2) Ideation Workshops; and 3) Public Keynotes.

Website: creativelab.hawaii.gov
Facebook: Creative Lab Hawaii – facebook.com/creativelabhawaii
Twitter: @CreativeLabHI – twitter.com/creativelabhi
Instagram: @CreativeLabHI – instagram.com/creativelabhi

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Media Contacts:
Laci Goshi
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
808-587-9006

Georja Skinner
Chief Officer, Creative Industries Division
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
808-586-2590

Susan Wright
Becker Communications
808-799-4293