Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Online donors earn credit by fueling indie film launch

By Mike Gordon


If you've ever dreamed of seeing your name as the credits roll at the end of a movie, here's your golden opportunity. For a $10 donation, the Hawaii producers of the short indie film "Strange Circus" will tell audiences about your contribution to movie magic.

There's a sliding scale, and the more you pledge to the film, the closer you get to being a Hollywood mogul. The perks include a shout-out in the film's weekly video podcast, tickets to the premiere and even an associate producer credit.

Until about two years ago, an offer like that would have been largely unknown to the general public, but the creators of "Strange Circus" have pinned their hopes to an online process called "crowd funding," which links dreams with people who have the money to make them a reality.

Taking their cause to the entire Worldwide Web connects the filmmakers -- incongruous as it sounds -- to a "grass-roots movement," said Brian Hirono, a Honolulu actor serving as executive producer of "Strange Circus." And it empowers actors and investors.

"It's a paradigm that has proven to work," he said. "It's creating more work for ourselves instead of waiting around as actors and writers, instead of waiting for Hollywood to come and say, 'Hey, we want you.'"

The filmmakers, who are using a site called Kickstarter, hope to raise $6,000 and they have a Dec. 20 deadline or else none of the money pledged becomes available. If the goal is met, the website takes 5 percent off the top.

They have a ways to go. As of early last week, they had raised only $840.

"Strange Circus" is the story of a young girl who lives in an apartment building occupied by members of a disbanded circus.

The project's page at Kickstarter features a promotional video and includes a pitch from director Dagny Looper, who used the same process to raise $15,000 when she produced "Brass Knuckle Ballad." Although shot earlier this year, it is still being edited.

AL HARRINGTON is back on "Hawaii Five-0" but instead of reviving his role as Detective Ben Kokua, the 74-year-old actor/entertainer will play a Waikiki beachboy named Mamo. His character is a friend of Steve McGarrett's family, a calabash uncle who once taught the supercop how to surf.

"It was a fantastic experience," said Harrington, who shot scenes last week near Queen's Beach with Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan -- McGarrett and Danno. "Those guys have a great love for their craft and their business and Hawaii."

Harrington appeared in 64 episodes of the original show and hopes that Mamo becomes a recurring part. The relationship between his character and McGarrett -- who felt every bit like a kamaaina haole to Harrington -- has potential.

"The story did not feel forced or fake," Harrington said. "It has substance that I would love to develop and evolve with."

EVEN BEFORE filming began earlier this month on Oahu on "Journey 2: Mysterious Island," there was a lot of speculation about its plot -- part sequel to the successful 2008 version of Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and part blending of the author's "Mysterious Island."

But here's the official story from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures:

Josh Hutcherson will reprise his role from the first film as young adventurer Sean Anderson. Dwayne Johnson stars as his stepfather and Michael Caine is his grandfather. Vanessa Hudgens and Luis Guzman will star as a father-daughter tour guide team, and Kristin "Sex and the City" Davis is Sean's mom.

The story follows Sean after he receives a distress signal from an island that isn't supposed to exist. Everyone heads out to rescue the island's lone inhabitant and in the process discover an astonishing secret.

"Shooting on Oahu is incredible," Hutcherson said in an e-mail. "Shooting here really gives our movie a lot of texture because on the first 'Journey' we shot most of it on green screen, and shooting in a beautiful location like this really enhances the look and feel of the film."

And that's a wrap.

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. His "Outtakes" column appears Sundays. Reach him at 529-4803 or


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