DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cameraman Bill Paris, right keeps up with show host Brandon Schant, as filming finished up for Circle Three Productions' reality show pilot being filmed on Oahu. On this particular day, a red and blue team ran through an obstacle course at the Waimanalo Bay State Recreational Area, also known as Sherwood Forest.
A production company wraps up filming a reality show pilot described as "Extreme Makeover" meets "Survivor"
Circle Three Productions president Cynthia Lockhart is riding high these days, having just completed filming on a reality show pilot described as "Extreme Makeover" meets "Survivor."
All but three in the 50-person cast and crew were local hires, providing valuable jobs in an industry that saw spending drop more than $60 million from 2004 to 2005. The strategy is also beneficial for Lockhart, a single mother of two who decided to take more of a behind-the-scenes role in Honolulu after leaving a radio and television career in Southern California.
"Once you hit 40, then you start realizing that it's time to switch gears," she said last week. "It's more fulfilling to me to see people come in here and do fun things ... and get paid for it at the same time."
WHILE CONTINUING to shop the pilot to prospective networks, Lockhart is moving forward with plans to retrofit a 7,000 square foot warehouse in the back of Halawa Valley. At the same time, efforts are being made to attract new business and raise awareness of the company within the local film industry.
"My goal is to provide a facility for people to utilize," she said. "The whole goal is to have somewhere for people to come in -- students, college kids, people with dreams -- so they have somewhere to shoot."
With "six to eight" full-time staff, Circle Three Productions is just like any other local small business. A half-dozen people were occupied with various tasks during a building tour last week. Filming took place in two rooms, while other staffers worked on computers in separate offices.
There is also dedicated space for photo shoots, storage, craft services and makeup. Another area is designated for post-production work, and ample parking is available just outside the front door.
"At night, it's perfectly quiet," Lockhart said. "And it's just so easy to hop off the freeway and drive back here."
THE ADDITIONAL production capacity provided by Circle Three's entrance into the industry is welcomed by the state, film commissioner Donne Dawson said.
"They're trying to get their name out there, and that's admirable," she said. "The more local people you can hire, the better off it is for our workers to get those opportunities."
Although Dawson has yet to visit the facility, she's confident it will help attract continued interest in Hawaii as a filming location. The state's Diamond Head soundstage facility remains the only viable solution for larger productions, but more space is certainly welcome.
"It's clear that we could definitely use more soundstage studio facilities, not just on Oahu, but on the neighbor islands," said Dawson. "The big-budget Hollywood productions and the small, homegrown productions -- we need both to sustain and grow the industry."
More projects are planned for Circle Three in the upcoming months, although Lockhart is hesitant to share any details. Instead, she focuses on increasing her company's name recognition among peers in the business.
"It's difficult here, but my goal wasn't to take over," she said. "There's so much creativity and talent here on the island, and people do what they have to do to pursue their dreams."
Lockhart doesn't limit opportunities to just college students, either. While interns from the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Academy for Creative Media participated in filming the reality show pilot, those not enrolled in the program are welcome to apply for work on future productions.
"It's just a matter of giving them the opportunity," she said. "Why hire somebody from the mainland, when hopefully I can hire someone from here?"
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Team members for a reality show being filmed partly in Waimanalo take their positions on the set.
ONE JOB that won't be outsourced anytime soon is Lockhart's role as mom to a pair of girls, ages 7 and 11. She's adamant about driving them to school from their Lanikai home each morning, and is always making adjustments to provide the maximum amount of time possible with her family.
"I'm with my kids 24 hours a day when I'm not here," Lockhart said. "You do what you need to do for business, but you make sure your kids are No. 1."
"As with anything, you have to restructure your priorities constantly," said Lockhart. "There might be days when ... I'll say, 'OK, I've gotta go home and spend time with my kids.' They're my life."