Monday, July 28, 2014         


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Movie fest's imaginative trailer wins Hollywood Reporter award

By Mike Gordon


Of all the amazing stories screened each year at the Hawaii International Film Festival, the shortest one never fails to delight audiences.

The festival trailer lasts only a few minutes, and yet that's been long enough to capture a devoted following. Even celebrated film critic Roger Ebert was smitten. One year he screened a HIFF trailer at his annual film festival in Illinois.

But last year's trailer, directed by Todd Robertson and starring Daniel Dae Kim, did more than simply impress. It recently won The Hollywood Reporter's 39th annual Key Art Award for best theatrical audio/visual-festival audio/visual. The category was open to any trailer produced in 2009 to promote a film festival.

"We've always prided ourselves on doing a different kind of trailer," said Chuck Boller, executive director of the festival. "I like to think that audiences anticipate our trailers. They have become minifeatures. They often tell a story and have become more than a way to get our sponsors' logos out there."

HIFF has been making trailers for 15 years using only local talent, all of it donated. The trailers are shown before every film, so they have to be something an audience won't get tired of seeing. Directors have created a range of fanciful films:

» A film canister rolling through city streets, and over water, too.

» Four strangers sky-diving, paddling, flying and running to the Hawaii Theatre.

» Jason Scott Lee and Kelly Hu meeting over a lost film and falling in love.

Robertson, president and chief executive officer of Hyperspective Studios, an animation and video effects production company in Manoa, collaborated with OrangeRoc, which helps HIFF with its marketing. The 39-year-old animator was asked to do something with an inkblot, and that was all he needed to unleash his imagination.

"With an inkblot the possibilities are unlimited," he said. "It is all based on perception. You look into an inkblot and you can basically see anything, and this is what the film festival is all about."

The magic inkblot transports Kim, playing a frustrated screenwriter, into a sheet of paper. It's a world without boundaries, a place where a drawing inside the inkblot can fire a gun at the screenwriter and a miniature cartoon fighter plane can buzz him before diving into the paper.

Robertson sees the award as a validation of the skills available in Hawaii. And he wants Hollywood to take notice.

"The perception is that we don't have the capabilities to do anything related to visual effects and post-production, and that is certainly not true," he said. "We have a growing animation industry here that I believe will be a viable industry in the world."

RUSHES ... No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. That's a pirate vessel off the Leeward Coast near Ko Olina Beach Park. But don't be tempted to get a closer look at the ship Disney is using for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." The Coast Guard has created an 800-yard safety zone to keep curious boaters out of the area, with possible penalties for breaching the zone ranging from $32,500 to $50,000 and five years in prison. Six white buoys define the zone, which is located 2,500 yards south of the Barbers Point harbor channel and will be in place through 6 p.m. July 21. Boaters in the area are being asked to steer west of the zone so as not to accidentally ground themselves on a shallow coral reef near the shore. The zone will be monitored by volunteers with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Get too close and they can board your vessel and seize it, too. ...

Universal Pictures will hold an open casting call Saturday to find 3,500 extras and 20 actors for "Battleship," an action-adventure film shooting on Oahu later this summer. The casting call will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Davies Hall at St. Andrew's Cathedral. The film needs men, women and children of all ages and ethnicities for work from one to three days in September and October. ...

There might be an "o" in zero, but not in "Hawaii Five-0." Touting it as the "shortest press release in CBS history," the network issued the following statement about the reboot of its classic series: "The '0' in 'Hawaii Five-0' is a zero, not a capital O."

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. His "Outtakes" column appears Sundays. E-mail him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com.

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