Filmmaker to chronicle life story of Kaiulani
Seeking a princess
Auditions for the role of Princess Kaiulani:
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday
Place: Robert Louis Stevenson Room, Princess Kaiulani Hotel
Details: Applicants should be about 5-foot-7, 120 pounds, of Hawaiian and Caucasian descent, able to act, speak with a British accent. Bring a photograph.
The life story of Hawaii's Princess Kaiulani -- one of unfulfilled promise and dashed dreams -- will be made into a $7 million independent film set for release in 2007.
Trailblazer Films and Matador Pictures, co-producers of the movie, will begin two weeks of filming on Oahu in late spring or summer of 2006. Another four weeks of shooting will be done in England.
Veteran filmmaker Marc Forby, owner of Trailblazer Films, has taken two years to write and research the script. He will also direct what is being called the "Untitled Princess Kaiulani Project."
"I have never really done a movie that I really cared about," Forby said by phone from Los Angeles. "This is one (film) where I can apply 10 years of learning the craft and skills and raising money to be used for something really good."
Forby also produced "29 Palms" (2002), "Zebra Lounge" and "Protection" (2001), and the woman-in-jeopardy story "The Fall" (1997). While making "The Fall," Forby met Nigel Thomas, who will serve as the film's executive producer, along with Forby's wife, Leilani Estioko Forby.
Co-producer Matador Pictures has just wrapped Ken Loach's "The Wind that Shakes the Barley," about the Irish Civil War.
Producers already have about $5 million of the $7-million budget, with most coming from England, where Kaiulani spent much of her life.
"Kaiulani" tells of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom from the princess' view. A Hawaiian rebellion will be filmed, as well as the siege of Iolani Place. Forby will meet with Iolani Palace officials this weekend to discuss whether he will be allowed to film on palace grounds, which he describes as "sacred."
COURTESY TRAILBLAZER FILMS
Cheyenne Kanani Pohuehue Murray has been cast to play Princess Kaiulani at age 12.
"There is a mythology about this princess and her untimely death (at age 23)," Forby said. "The film will not point fingers, but it does acknowledge what was done in Hawaii. It's about documented historical events."
Young local actress Cheyenne Kanani Pohuehue Murray has been cast to portray the princess at age 12. Next week, Forby will audition actresses to portray Kaiulani as a young woman.
Several principal roles, including Queen Liliuokalani and hundreds of extras, will be cast later. Forby said the casting of some Hollywood stars will be announced in the spring.
The search for Kaiulani is beginning months in advance because Forby, keenly aware of the sensitivity of the subject matter, wants to make sure he finds the right actor, one of part-Hawaiian, part-Caucasian descent. "There is no circumstance that would make me give this part to a non part-Hawaiian actor."
Forby said he has met with Hawaiian historians and researched Kaiulani's letters, historical files and books. "The script has been read by Hawaiian professors ... those with precise knowledge of this specific time in Hawaiian history."
The film cannot be compared to Sony's film about Kamehemeha I, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Forby said. "This is not a studio movie, so we're not beholden to any board. We're an independent film so we can do this film right."
Victoria Kaiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiui Lunalilo was born Oct. 16, 1875, during King Kalakaua's reign. Her mother was Kalakaua's sister, Princess Miriam Likelike. Her father was Scottish-born Archibald Cleghorn, one-time governor of Oahu.
Kaiulani was sent to school in England in her early teens and it was during her absence that the Hawaiian monarchy fell on troubled times, including the unexpected death of Kalakaua in 1891. His sister, Liliuokalani, ascended the throne and named Kaiulani as heir apparent.
By the time the princess returned to Hawaii in 1897, Liliuokalani had been forced to abdicate, the monarchy was abolished and Hawaii was about to be named a republic by United States President McKinley.
Months later, while horseback riding on the Big Island, Kaiulani was caught in a rainstorm and fell ill. She died on March 6, 1899.