Peter Heckmann, shown at his studio in Kapaa, will cater to production crews making commercials and documentaries.

Faith in Kauai’s future
drives new media studio

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> Operating almost entirely under the "If you build it, they will come" theory, the most exotic and complete audio and video studio on Kauai will open on Thursday.

Peter Heckmann, owner of Heckmann Multimedia productions, says the business already has been operating out of his house. The completion of two studios in Kapaa and an affiliation with a third in Koloa, however, is a giant step and a big gamble.

No major motion pictures or television shows were filmed on Kauai in 2002 and none are scheduled for 2003.

More than a few eyebrows have been raised by local businessmen who question the need for production and post-production support, equipment rentals and Web design when so little is shot on Kauai.

Heckmann said the entertainment industry is not as quiet as it might appear on Kauai. And if the equipment is available on Kauai -- rather than having to bring it from Oahu -- they just may come.

Documentary films, commercials, magazine ads and fashion layouts are almost constantly being produced on the island, he said, but most go on unnoticed in remote areas. Some producers slip in and out of Kauai without any contact with local government to avoid having to deal with unions.

Heckmann, who is German and multilingual, has supplied many European documentary crews with equipment. Something as mundane to people on Kauai as paddling a kayak on the Wailua River or hiking the Kalalau trail appears exotic to a European television audience, Heckmann noted.

"Europeans love cultural shows," Heckmann noted. "They love Hawaii and they love seeing beautiful places."

The production quality can range anywhere from network commercial television to low-budget video for public access cable stations.

His company is offering to provide as little or as much as needed by video crews.

"They may bring their own crew or they may need some local crew, the may bring their own cameras or rent ours. One major advantage we are offering is the ability to do post-production work while they're still here. If they need to reshoot something, they'll know it right away."

Heckmann started out as a professional bass player but got interested in computers, learned graphic design while working as a team leader for IBM and moved to Kauai five years ago to work full time as a Web page designer.

His introduction to the motion picture business came only two years ago when he was hired to design the Web page for "To End All Wars." The prisoner of war film, starring Robert Carlyle and Kiefer Sutherland, was shot entirely on Kauai more than two years ago and finally is scheduled for release in February.

While designing the Web site (, Heckmann worked with Enock Friere, an associate producer on the film. Friere is Heckmann's partner in the new venture.

Friere, who is Brazilian and lives in Los Angeles, grew up on the Big Island and said he is a true believer in the film potential of all of Hawaii.

"What's missing, particularly on the neighbor islands, is production support," Friere said. "Now it's here on Kauai and we plan to let the entire industry know it's available."

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