Hawaii movie, TV productions set to start work despite virus

HONOLULU — Movie and television productions in Hawaii have started or are scheduled to begin soon despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Work on new seasons of the television shows “Magnum PI” on Oahu and “Temptation Island” on Maui are beginning, while other productions are expected to shoot on Hawaii island and Maui.

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Maui County Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett said Monday that a miniseries is expected to begin work in the near future while a Christmas movie is scheduled to film toward the end of the year.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported film and television productions contributed more than $419 million to Hawaii’s economy in 2018.

“Every sector of our economy, in some way, shape, or form, is touched by film production in our state,” Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said.

Film industry professionals in Hawaii have produced a pandemic protocol to safely return people to work, Dawson said.

“What the public in Hawaii wants to know and feel good about is that the highest level of safety precautions are being taken and the medical resources of our communities are not being put in jeopardy,” Dawson said.

Chris Lee, founder of the University of Hawaii Academy for Creative Media, said film and video production is only part of what could be a billion dollar digital media industry in Hawaii.

The state could lure former residents back with high-paying, remote work occupations, Lee said.

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Multimedia artists and animators’ median pay in 2019 was more than $75,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

“Since the demise of sugar and pineapple, we’ve had one major export, our kids. That’s what we’ve exported to the world. Now we have to give people a reason to come back,” he said.

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