Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Hawaii Actors Network harnesses power of online social networking

By Mike Gordon


It was more than a year in the making, but Teddy Wells considers it a victory worth savoring. With less than two days' notice, he was able to get 300 aspiring local actors to a casting call for ABC's Hawaii-based medical drama "Off the Map."

Wells credits the online social networking site he created in June 2009, Hawaii Actors Network, and its more than 2,800 members. They responded to a casting call organized specifically for the actors network by ABC's local agent, Laurie Foi.

"That's effective, and this is a great selling point for us," Wells said. "That's the first time somebody posted a casting only for our members."

A part-time actor, chef and businessman, Wells is webmaster for the site, which includes member profiles, photos and videos. He got the idea after appearing on several episodes of "Lost." When his character was killed off, Wells went online to scout other Hawaii opportunities.

"Then it dawned on me: Why isn't everything in one place?" he said. "As I was doing my own little database, I decided this was great information and I should figure out how to provide it for others and build a website."

The site is free to join and allows actors of all abilities to exchange information. If there's a downside, it's that not all of that information is vetted by experienced professionals. Carpe diem meets buyer beware.

But lately, studio representatives have joined the site, Wells said. This happened in the spring when the casting agent for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" posted a call on the network website, he said.

"Now producers and directors will be able to see what is in Hawaii before they get here," Wells said. "When I was starting out 13 years ago, it was all coconut wireless. You had to get lucky. You had to know somebody who knew somebody."

KAMAAINA FILMMAKER Kathleen Man has had to postpone production of the last part of her "Cosmopolitan" project, a trio of films that will include "Lychee Thieves," shot on Oahu last summer.

Man, who teaches narrative and documentary filmmaking at Vassar College in New York, had hoped to be in Italy now but is in Seattle where she is helping her fiance on his own film, "Grassroots."

"Lychee Thieves" screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival in October. Afterward, Man re-edited the film and has shown it at 15 film festivals since March. It returns to Oahu this coming weekend at the Ohina Short Film Showcase in the Honolulu Academy of Arts Doris Duke Theatre.

"We totally re-cut it, but not beyond recognition," Man said.

The first film in the project, "Walk the Fish," was shot in New York. The final film, dubbed "Maestro," is to be shot in Orvieto, Italy.

"All three stories are about people who are in existential crisis," Man said. "Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?"

The films follow a vignette structure and are not completely interwoven, she said. "Lychee Thieves" focuses on an old lychee tree that suddenly starts pumping out fruit. The unexpected turn of events sparks tension as everyone involved becomes territorial.

Man needs to raise $75,000 in order to complete the project. She isn't too frustrated by the delay.

"You have to make sacrifices to work like this, and I'm willing and happy to make them if it means that I'm then in a position to create something unique," she said.

The Ohina Short Film Showcase, a venue for Hawaii's independent filmmakers, will feature eight films Friday at 7:30 p.m. -- following an opening reception at 6:30 p.m. -- and again Saturday at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $8.50.

RUSHES ... CBS has confirmed it plans to send its "Hawaii Five-0" cameras to shoot the University of Hawaii band at halftime of the Warriors' Sept. 2 game against Southern Cal. Of course, the band will play the police drama's classic theme. George Schweitzer, president of CBS marketing, said the network wants to create promotional spots for TV and online use. "The theme is the most enduring theme in all of television," he said last week. "And nowhere will it be more authentic than at halftime on the field of Aloha Stadium." And that's a wrap. ...

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

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