The dream of any “Hawaii Five-0” fan is a chance to visit the set of their favorite show to meet the actors and perhaps capture a picture or two of their experience. Over the eight seasons, the show has been shooting in Hawaiʻi, we’ve seen many a lucky fan meet the cast and crew of the hit television show. Thanks to social media, fans around the world have shared their on set experiences. Many have witnessed the generosity and kindness of the actors and crew members who often give fans a moment to take a selfie with them and so obviously appreciate the fan support and interaction.
This week, die-hard “Hawaii Five-0” fans got a bit of good news. Omaze, an online website that raises money for nonprofit organizations by raffling off celebrity experiences, launched their “Win a Trip to Hawaii to Meet the Cast of ‘Hawaii Five-0’” campaign for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. For a small donation, anyone can make a donation and vie for a trip to Hawaiʻi and visit the cast on location. The package will also allow the winner to watch the filming of an episode and have lunch on set with their favorite actors.
The website prides itself on creating a budget-friendly way for fans from all walks of life to afford a celebrity experience. Fans can donate as little as $10 for a chance to win the raffle, and the website states that 80% of the money raised benefits the charity represented by each campaign. The “Hawaii Five-0” campaign is open to international fans and includes flights and accommodations for two. In the past, Five-0 has participated in auctioning off several set visits, but those have often gone to the highest bidder. For the fan that has never been to Hawaiʻi for a visit — let alone to see filming or to meet their favorite actor — this is a great opportunity to perhaps make their dreams come true.
Set visits by fans or anyone outside of the cast and crew are pretty rare. If fans are lucky enough to catch filming, they sometimes don’t always get to see the stars of the show. From all of the social media posts made by vacationing fans featuring pictures with Alex O’Loughlin, it really seems that any fan who happens upon Five-0 filming will meet the series star.
But in truth, that is not always the case. For every fan who has had been lucky enough to meet a series favorites — there are many stories of fans who have never seen any live filming during their brief visits to the islands.
Finding a spot where filming is taking place is half the battle, and while many Hawaiʻi fans will post via social media about where the “EYE” (the name of the CBS production company that produces Five-0) signs posted around the island, it’s still not a guarantee that the actors will actually be there working.
When “Hawaii Five-0” moved into the Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head after season three, much of their location filming moved to the film studio and now happens away from the public eye.
They still have to shoot on location for their episodes as any scene that takes place at an outside or iconic location can’t be done on a soundstage. Any scene at Kamekona’s Shrimp Truck, outside of Five-0 Headquarters, beachside at McGarrett’s house, pau hana at Tropics at the Hilton Hawaiian Village — have to be done on location. If the team goes surfing or stand-up paddleboarding — these are all considered location or exterior shots.
Scenes filmed in the Five-0 offices or around the magic table; in McGarrett’s, Danny’s, or Lou’s home; and in the medical examiner’s offices most likely take place at the Hawaii Film Studio. They no longer film inside the Bayer Estate, which most fans call “McGarrett’s House,” unless they are going to shoot a scene at the backyard beach of the beautiful, but private, home.
Another reason why fans often have a hard time finding filming is that many of the locations are in fact privately owned homes and in areas of town where there is not a lot of room for traffic. The location of Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) and Kono’s (Grace Park) home is in an older neighborhood, where there is not a lot of space for a big crowd of adoring fans. Chin’s (Daniel Dae Kim) house is on a street that is barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other. And the Bayer Estate, which is a wedding venue as well as a private home, is not open to the public. Please do not stop by and expect to be allowed to visit. They do not have public hours or give public tours. Fans who have been to the Bayer Estate, have been invited to visit or have been on an established tour that has permission to visit the home and the grounds.
Really, if you want to see filming — be prepared. Many fans wait for hours, and sometimes days, to just get a glimpse of the actors. And many fans watch filming for several days and come away with not much evidence of their time. It is fascinating to watch them film an episode, but it is a lot of long hours. It’s not uncommon for the crew to work at a location the entire day — for about five minutes of screentime.
German fan Angela Gerstner who runs an Alex O’Loughlin fansite and the Alex O’Loughlin Fans for Organ Donation Facebook page has visited Hawai’i twice and was lucky enough to see “Hawaii Five-0” filming during both of her visits. Her last visit was in September 2017 and she was able to see Five-0 filming their second episode of this season, “Nā lā ʻīlio” (“Dog Days”).
Gerstner shared with me via Facebook that “it really takes a lot of luck and even more patience to [take pictures with the cast]. It’s not always guaranteed that the main cast will be there or that the fans have the chance to get photos.” Gerstner also shared about the days she spent waiting at shooting locations for hours. Luckily, she did not leave Hawaiʻi disappointed — Gerstner ended up taking photos with Dennis Chun, Taylor Wily, Beulah Koale, Eddie the dog, as well as with O’Loughlin.
Still, Gerstner’s experience is not a common one, and I’ve heard many fans lament about the fact that they did not get to see filming or get to meet their favorite actor, while on vacation. Really it’s a gamble for fans if they want to catch “Hawaii Five-0” in action.
But if you are a lucky fan who sees filming, and perhaps gets to take a selfie with your favorite star, please remember a few ground rules. First, they are working, so try not to interrupt them if they are walking into a scene or into a hot set (when the set is actually filming and not just being set or in rehearsal). Second, don’t be offended if they don’t come to talk to you or seem to ignore you. Remember, they are working and time on a television set is precious — and expensive. It’s not that they don’t appreciate your support, it’s just not the right time for them to express it to you. Third, if they are filming in public spaces, you can certainly try and take pictures and catch what glimpses of the cast you can, but be sure to adhere to their wishes if they ask you to be quiet or to put phones away. More often than not they don’t want your cameras to distract the actors or the filming process. And last but not least, be patient, be respectful, and be flexible — you just never know when your time will come to get your selfie with your cast favorites.