Hawaii’s next generation of filmmakers might get its inspiration from the students in Waianae High School’s award-winning Searider Productions Academy and the program’s new digital media bus.
The bus, which used to be the state Department of Education’s mobile art program, was recently outfitted with work tables, video cameras and laptops and will tour schools statewide in an effort to inspire students, said Candy Suiso, director of the academy she founded in 1993. The academy partnered with the Boys & Girls Club in Waianae for the $35,000 project.
Learning to make videos has been a proven way to keep students from dropping out, Suiso said.
"Waianae High School has a very high dropout rate, but the students who stay in our academy don’t drop out and over 50 percent of our students go to college," she said. "They find something they are interested in, and it challenges their energy in the right way instead of tagging buildings and stealing cars."
And their creativity has been rewarded.
Videos by Suiso’s students recently snagged four out of five first-place awards in a contest about Internet safety, sponsored by the FBI. Last fall, they won two categories in the national Student Television Network News Feature Challenge. The academy has produced hundreds of other shorts — public service announcements, promotional videos and news stories — that have appeared on TV.
"If you can make learning fun and relevant, kids will learn," she said. "We hope it will catch on and more resources will come their way so they can become a media program like the one we have in Waianae."
LOCAL ACTOR Joji Yoshida will be holding his breath when the curtain rises on tomorrow’s new episode of "Hawaii Five-0" at 9 p.m. on KGMB. He’s hoping his guest spot as fisherman Jack Leung won’t be cut from the episode, but he’s also pretty optimistic it will remain intact.
"Jack’s part is a very integral part of the story," Yoshida said. "He’s the gist of the episode."
Yoshida’s pretty excited these days. Even though he’s been in the business since the late 1990s, this is only his third speaking part, and it follows a major breakthrough: a large role on "Battleship," a $200 million feature film that shot in Hawaii and Louisiana last year.
The actor is convinced "Five-0" will help in a big way, taking him "from being a completely unknown local actor to possibly being a working actor."
"It’s a hit TV show," he said, "and a lot of people on the mainland will see it and it will be really good for this resurgence of my career."
IF YOU’RE part of the Twitter universe, you will want to be sure and follow "Five-0" series regular Daniel Dae Kim (@DanielDaeKim), who will be tweeting live commentary and answering questions during tomorrow’s episode. He’ll start when the show airs on the East Coast, which is 4 p.m. Hawaii time.
AND that’s a wrap …
Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser’s film and television writer. Reach him at 529-4803 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.