2 film office workers remain after layoffs


POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009

Two-thirds of Hawaii's film branch staff has been laid off or is on the way out in spite of worries of how the cuts might affect services that have brought an estimated $1 billion to the state since 2001.

Two workers were laid off this week, a third leaves on Dec. 4 and one person retired, leaving two employees in a branch administered by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Department Director Ted Liu said he plans to keep the film office operating by assigning people in the department with general skills to do the additional work.

Liu said Georja Skinner, administrator of the state's Creative Industries Division, who has experience working with the film industry, will be heading the film office.

Hawaii film office administrator Donne Dawson will be working until Dec. 4 to ease in the transition.

Brent Anbe, a film office employee who was laid off, said doing his job will not be easy because it requires specialized knowledge about film production.

Anbe, who was in charge of processing 90 percent of the film production permits, said the job often requires working at night and on weekends.

State Sen. Carol Fukunaga, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology, said she disagreed with the administration's decision.

“;I think it's very sad that experienced people with very strong specialized skills are being eliminated in the name of efficiencies,”; Fukunaga said.

She said she plans to take up the issue of film office staffing during the next legislative session.

The cutbacks are part of close to 650 state workers expected to leave their jobs by the end of the year to reduce the state's budget deficit.