Friday, July 16, 2004

UH film school gets
donation from NBC

The $100,000 gift includes sound
gear and 35 mm film stock

NBC, one of three networks filming a prime-time series on Oahu, is donating more than $100,000 of new and slightly used sound equipment to the fledgling University of Hawaii film school.

It is the UH Academy for Creative Media's largest gift to date, surpassing producer Roland Emmerich's $100,000 cash donation earlier this year.

The list of sound equipment, much of it from the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," fills 10 pages, said Chris Lee, the UH film school's chairman.

NBC is producing the police drama "Hawaii" and began filming the show's second of 13 episodes yesterday.

About a month ago, Lee met with Jim McGee, vice president of production at NBC Universal Television Studio, and Jerry DiCanio, who oversees production for NBC Universal Television, to discuss the upcoming "Hawaii" filming and the UH film school.

"They were very forthcoming, saying (the network) wants to be involved with the film school," Lee said yesterday. "They wanted to know what we were doing with the school."

Lee said when DiCanio asked him what equipment the school needed, he responded, "What have you got?"

The next day, NBC faxed Lee a 10-page list of available gear.

"I have to admit that I got giddy when I saw it," Lee said.

The school's current equipment is minimal, "a bunch of laptops and some little Sony (video cameras)," Lee said. "The students' biggest complaints this year was not having the right equipment to produce good sound for their films."

Lee, the former president of production for TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures, also told the NBC executives that there is no equipment to process 35 mm film. NBC agreed to donate "short ends" -- leftover, or unused, 35 mm film stock from other productions -- and then process it in Los Angeles for the students and pay for shipping.

"This is really fantastic because it now allows our students to work in 35 millimeter. Otherwise they would never have this opportunity here," Lee said.

The sound equipment is expected to be shipped this week at NBC's expense, Lee said.

The film school will expand to accommodate the equipment by opening production offices at a half-dozen unused Hawaii Public TV offices across the street from the Manoa campus, Lee said.

Lee said he also met with "Hawaii" executive producer Jay Benson to discuss filming here. "I sent him a care package of 13 books about Hawaii including 'Land and Power in Hawaii' to 'Pidgin to Da Max' to see why crime cases in Hawaii would be different than what happens on 'NYPD Blue' and 'Law & Order.'"

Lee has seen the "Hawaii" pilot and called it "terrific."

"It's very well written, beautifully shot, and moves along," he said. "It's going to be very good for Hawaii. The interest in anchoring the show in local culture is absolutely there."

University of Hawaii


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