10 TO WATCH IN 2004:
Nathan Kurosawa


Locally produced movie
‘The Ride’ surges forward

Thanks to an auspicious showing at last year's Hawaii International Film Festival, Nathan Kurosawa has distinguished himself as the strongest independent feature filmmaker from this state in some time.

"The Ride" -- a family film about a present-day Southern California surfer who is transported back to 1911 Hawaii, where he meets a young Duke Kahanamoku and learns the true value of the sport -- won two awards at the festival a couple of months ago and proved to be a runaway favorite with local audiences.

Ten to watch in 2004
The Star-Bulletin is spotlighting 10 people who may have a big impact on Hawaii this year.

Production on "The Ride" started in 2001, and the film was made in 17 days for less than $1 million with an all-local cast and crew.

Kurosawa has moved back home from Los Angeles, but he is still trying to get his movie seen by a wider, mainland-based audience, plus start work on another project.

"I got a lot of positive feedback, across the board," Kurosawa recently said. "I'm trying to get distribution through the local theaters here -- the film chains want to release it theatrically, hopefully early (this) year.

"As for the mainland, I'm still negotiating for either network or cable broadcast. I'm not looking for a mainland theatrical release, except in California or Florida. There's also an opportunity for foreign sales, and the Japanese market may be adapting the movie for their audience.

"But the most common question I've gotten here is, When's it coming out on DVD home video?" he said. "That has to wait until we finalize any TV broadcast."

Kurosawa said his next locally based project will be a bigger-budgeted, contemporary romantic comedy. He'll be teaming up once again with his executive producer Wesley Nakamoto and trying to get local financing.

"I want to continue to focus on local stories and local culture," he said, "but it can be expensive and difficult at times because of the cultural theme. Investors are looking to either make money or at least make it back, and films of specific regional and cultural themes, dealing with people of color or minority, are tougher to finance, which is an unfortunate fact.

"But I'm lucky to have a partner as Wesley to help. Ever since 'The Ride,' a lot of people have been calling up, sending scripts, and (I've been) getting resumes and portfolios from actors and models. People are seeing that even though it was a local production, the movie had a high production value which didn't embarrass the local people. They saw it was from the heart, and now they're more at ease and trusting of me and Wesley."


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