FL MORRIS / FMORIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Those from Waianae who took part in the production, are, from front left, Jasmine Jeremiah, advisor Candy Suiso, Alapaki Silva, and back row, John Allen, left, Marshall Mole and Healii Keawe.
Waianae students go behind 'Break' scenes
SHAWN FONOTI, an 18-year-old senior in Waianae High School's Searider Productions, doesn't say much. It seems he does most of his communicating through music.
"He's magical," said Searider Productions program director Candy Suiso. "You ought to hear him sing."
In less than two weeks, Fonoti wrote and produced the sound track for "Behind the Break," a promotional documentary-style video highlighting the new teen drama series "Beyond the Break." The three-voice harmony with a modern hip-hop beat wasn't a problem. He did all of the voices, recording them one at a time. Fonoti also plays drums, bass, guitar and ukulele, and hopes to one day produce his own CD. "I like to rap," he said. "But I think singing is my strong point."
Fonoti is a student with Searider Productions, a multimedia education program sophisticated enough to offer services to community businesses. The 12-year-old program has long enjoyed a stellar reputation for its productions, which have the graphic pizzazz and fast pace of any contemporary work on MTV. More and more, however, the students are stepping onto the national scene. They will travel to New York City June 9 to accept a National Student Television Award for Excellence, one of only seven awards issued nationwide. It will be the first trip to New York -- Times Square, no less -- for students Katie Hoppe, James Kapu-Kaaihue, Priscilla Mathewson and Justine Campos.
But one honor at time. First they had to walk the sand carpet at Sunset on the Beach Saturday night, where they showcased their slick show trailer, greeted the public and hung out with the stars of the surfing/teen-angst series "Beyond the Break."
Shot entirely on the west side, "Beyond the Break" gave students an opportunity to view television production on a large scale, and to work as production assistants and extras. "It makes what they just learned relevant," said Suiso.
As one might expect, "Behind the Break" looks behind the scenes at the production, and incorporates interviews from students and advisers on the set, most of whom talked about why Waianae was the perfect location for this series. About 15 students from Searider Productions classes earned spots as extras in Waianae High School and Makaha Beach scenes.
KATHERINE NICHOLS / KNICHOLS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shawn Fonoti, foreground, works in Waianae High School's recording studio with Searider Productions' audio/music advisor DJ Peterson.
Jasmine Jeremiah, 18, served as a production assistant. She went over scripts, met the actors, learned about make up, art and costumes, forged a friendship with the director and exercised her legs as an extra. Now she's sure she wants to be a producer. "I got a taste of the work they do, and I know I can do that," she said. "I like how they have a say in everything." Acting, on the other hand, left her less enthralled. Doing scenes repeatedly as an actor "becomes immensely dry and boring."
Sixteen-year-old Jonalyn Arao admitted that she got tired of being an extra, which involved in enormous amount of "walking back and forth" in the sand. "After the fifth time, I was like, 'Oh, my legs are burning!' "
Chonte Fujioka said the whole experience was "fun ... just seeing how things are really made. You get to meet new people. The production company did use the community a lot and treated them with respect."
Though their class works in much smaller groups than national television productions, Searider Production standards are high.
"The way things need to be done is very professional," said Fujioka. Sometimes that means staying at school until 3 a.m. to meet a deadline. This is especially true when they convert their school newspaper into a half-hour video once a month to air on Channel 56. "When you're working on it, it's really hard. ... You want the final product to be good."
This is why "Searider Productions has such a good name," said Jeremiah. "A lot of people know about us. It's an awesome feeling."
If "Beyond the Break" gets picked up for a second season, video advisor John Allen III said he'd "like to see the kids really take ownership of the show."
It's probably only a matter of time.