STAR-BULLETIN / 2003
Rapper Emirc ("crime" spelled backward) jumps for the rim, his producer Eric Kuhara in the background. Emirc is to provide the title track for Daniel Zirilli's new film, "Glass." The producer has already used Emirc's work in another film.
A feature film to be made on Molokai will expose the dangers of crystal meth through the fictional tale of one girl's tragic decline
A film about "the total demise of a young, fresh girl who turns into a hag -- an ugly, dark story embodied in one middle-class white girl," peppered with hard-hitting rap lyrics -- might not be everyone's choice for the ideal Sunset on the Beach flick. But writer/director/producer Daniel Zirilli has something much more in mind. He wants to make a difference.
"It's happening on Indian reservations. It's happening in upper-class areas; women are doing it to lose weight."
Producer, talking about crystal methamphetamine
Zirilli will begin shooting "Glass," a full-length movie about the ravages of crystal methamphetamine, on Molokai in August, and he's enlisted local hip-hop artist Emirc to provide the title track. Michael Costner (Kevin's nephew), Alex Quinn (Anthony's son) and actress/singer Brandi Williams have already been cast. The film is fictional, of course, and the setting will remain anonymous.
"Molokai and Tetaroa (Tahiti) are two of my favorite places in the world," Zirilli said in a phone interview from his home base in Los Angeles. "The more remote, the better."
Zirilli's reception in Hawaii remains to be seen. Maui County Film Commissioner Benita Brazier was reluctant to comment on the production without knowing more about it or feeling sure it would actually happen.
But Zirilli's track record indicates nothing but green lights.
In addition to public service announcements and 12 documentary and feature films, he's directed more than 250 music videos on MTV for a range of artists, including Three 6 Mafia and the Rolling Stones. He started his company, Popart Film Factory, in 1990 at the age of 24. There hasn't been a slow day at work since.
His passion always draws him back to feature-length work, especially when he bores of the self-indulgent short form and the "bitches, cars and bling" that every pop artist seems to want in his video these days, he says. Last year, he directed a soon-to-be-released film called "The Champagne Gang," which he describes as a "girl-power female heist movie." Zirilli used Emirc's most recognized song, "Honolulu," at the end of the film.
STAR-BULLETIN / 1998
A crack pipe, confiscated in a police drug raid.
After shooting, Zirilli took a break at Molokai Lodge -- his 30th trip to Hawaii, he estimated -- with his wife and two children. As he explored every corner of the island, he saw "No ice" signs posted. Brainstorming began.
"It's happening on Indian reservations. It's happening in upper-class areas; women are doing it to lose weight," he said. The unnamed location has a purpose: Zirilli wants to remind viewers that drug problems are everywhere.
The movie follows the decline of a young girl who runs away from an overly protective father to an island where a group of men invite her to a beach party, befriend her and introduce her to crystal meth.
Passionate about preventing drug use in youngsters, Zirilli plans to include public service announcements about meth use and treatment on the DVD release of the film. His budget for the project is $200,000, and he has expressed interest in donating a portion of profits to a drug prevention program in Hawaii. He also plans to hire cast and crew locally "as much as possible."
Emirc, a 26-year-old Honolulu resident who performs "hip-hop music with a tropical twist," said his song "Iceland" was already written and recorded before Zirilli approached him. One verse highlights news headlines; another recalls friends he's lost to addiction, who are either in jail or "have faded away."
"People have such deep pain and emotions that are tied to that drug, they are not going to want it to be too Hollywood," said Emirc, who recently opened for Kanye West at the Neal Blaisdell Arena. "I'm just really excited to be part of this project, and I think overall, it's going to have a positive impact."