Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Isle teamwork
brings in TV series

Hawaii Film Partners will have
worldwide rights to "29 Down"

Honolulu-based Hawaii Film Partners has joined with two Hollywood production companies to produce and internationally distribute isle-based film and television projects, including a new TV series for Discovery Kids to air on NBC and the Discovery Channel.

Principal photography for 13 half-hour episodes of the teenage castaway drama "29 Down" begins Jan. 3 on Oahu. The series, produced by Stan Rogow ("Darcy's Wild Life" and "Lizzie McGuire"), was created by Rogow and director/writer DJ McHale in association with Hawaii Film Partners.

The series will film through March and air either in April or fall.

"This project all came together because of tremendous cooperation with the state, unions and private sector," said Rogow, president of Stan Rogow Productions in Los Angeles.

Most significantly, the 2-year-old Hawaii Film Partners has a long-term agreement with distributor Showcase Entertainment to find marketable productions that want to film in Hawaii and need financing. The partnership will then distribute those products internationally.


"We're trying to create an international distribution presence in Hawaii which will be a first for the state," said David Jackson, president of Los Angeles-based Showcase. "Most, if not all, of the productions which film in Hawaii are in and out, and it's 'Thanks a lot.'"

Showcase, also owned by Jackson's wife, Shauna, the company's executive vice president, is in its 16th year and has marketed more than 200 feature films internationally.

Shauna Jackson and Honolulu attorney Gina Watumull own Hawaii Film Partners and are executive producers on "29 Down."

Watumull's husband, Rann, a Bank of Hawaii vice president, helps Hawaii Film Partners but is not employed by the company, he said.

The Discovery Channel owns domestic distribution rights and revenues for "29 Down," while Hawaii Film Partners, its investors and Rogow have the international and ancillary rights, including merchandise and music. Showcase's role is to sell the series in the international market for a distribution fee and absorb overhead expenses, Jackson said. Hawaii Film Partners receives an undisclosed producer's fee in the deal.

"29 Down" follows the adventures of 10 young castaways -- including local singer/actor Tani Lynn -- who are stranded in Micronesia after their plane crashes en route to a once-in-a-lifetime eco-adventure.

With little hope of rescue, the teenagers have to learn how to navigate the challenges of castaways using their intelligence, wit and instincts.

Other cast members also include Hallee Hirsh ("ER"), Johnny Pacar ("Boston Public") and Corbin Bleu ("Catch That Kid").

For the "29 Down" deal negotiated last April but signed last month, Discovery Channel pays half the budget, with Hawaii Film Partners and Rogow providing the rest. Each episode costs nearly $400,000.

Though the story line seems similar to ABC's hit show "Lost," producer Rogow said he and co-creator/director McHale came up with the teenage castaway idea earlier.

"While they were shooting their pilot in Hawaii, we were already writing episodes," Rogow said.

Inspiration for the show was "a very, very, very light version of 'Lord of the Flies,'" said Rogow, who describes the series as "a little bit 'Real World,' a little bit 'Survivor' and a little bit 'Fear Factor.'"

The production is renting a renovated Waialua apartment building for production offices and cast accommodations. The majority of filming will be on the North Shore.

Discovery Kids

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com