Damon’s team members talk with island kids
A few members of the production team from "The Informant," the new Matt Damon
movie that shot for a couple of days this week in Makaha, took time to visit with Kamehameha Schools children participating in a summer cultural program.
"We just sat around and talked for an hour about what we do, and tried to inspire them," said Ken Lavet, the film's location manager. They also discussed how modern technology allows anyone to participate in the movie business. "All you really need now is a video camera and a story, and you can make your own movies, and hopefully we communicated that to them."
Interacting with local communities in the film's varied locations has been one of the pleasures of this project, said Los Angeles-based screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, and this opportunity in Hawaii provided a somewhat spontaneous, intimate forum. Most youngsters know one thing about movies: The actors. But Burns and his colleagues tried to educate them about the collaborative process behind the scenes. "There are a lot of different people with different skills" working on movies, said Burns. "You can find your way into the business in a lot of different ways."
Burns talked about how, as a kid from Minnesota, he never believed he could do this for a living. But his passion for writing provided a portal he had not anticipated. Since then, he's written "The Bourne Ultimatum," helped with "Oceans 12" and produced "An Inconvenient Truth," among other projects.
"The kids asked a lot of questions," said Makaha Resort sales manager Sandy Narvaez. "I was near tears, I was so happy for those kids. And it was so nice of these top professionals to actually ask to do that."
Narvaez said the crew took about 74 rooms - nearly half of the hotel's inventory. And the fuss around Damon, the only major star in the production, was minimal.
The reason the crew chose to shoot here was because the book on which the script is based described a business meeting at the Makaha Resort - back in the early 1990s when it was a Sheraton - and they wanted to make each location as authentic as possible. "We're all impressed with how professional the local film community is here," said Lavet, who added that they hired about 10 percent of the crew for this shoot in Hawaii.
Though it's not typical for a writer to travel with a production to various locations, Burns did not complain. "Steven (Soderbergh, the director) tends to be very collaborative with the writer," he said. Every once in a while, Burns has had to tinker with a scene that's not working. But he also noted that there's plenty of help, as Soderbergh and Damon have been known to write a bit, too.
Compared with where they started in Decatur, Ill., Hawaii "is sort of a world unto itself," said Burns, who is spending a few days on Maui. "This is the same distance from Los Angeles as New York," he mused. "It's kind of a better way to spend five hours."