Donne Dawson

Film Commissioner Donne Dawson sits in her office at the Hawaii Film Office. Production expenditures hit $146 million this year.

Putting isles in
TV’s spotlight


Thursday, December 23, 2004

» An hour-long episode of a current TV network series costs about $2.2 million. A story on Page A3 in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly said the cost was $22 million.

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Ten who made a difference

Starting today, the Star-Bulletin recognizes 10 individuals who have changed Hawaii this year

The Hawaii Film Office had two employees and an annual budget of under $200,000 when it was created in 1978.

At the time, production expenditures from film, television -- mainly "Hawaii Five-0" -- and commercials were $22 million, or about the cost of one hourlong episode of a current network series.

This year, under state Film Com- missioner Donne Dawson, the eight-person operation, with a $500,000 annual budget, will see another production expenditure record -- the third in four years -- of about $146 million.

Hawaii received unprecedented network attention this year with three prime-time series: NBC's "Hawaii," FOX Television's "North Shore" and the top 10 ABC castaway drama "Lost." The three series spent about $90 million, or 65 percent of their total budgets, in the islands.

Next year also looks bright, even though "Hawaii" didn't pan out and "North Shore" is on the ropes.

"Lost" returns for a second season and "29 DOWN" by The Discovery Channel will film 13 half-hour episodes here. Also, the WB is considering the hourlong "Rocky Point" series.

The film office budget, under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, is larger than that of other states. But Hawaii is more likely to compete against other countries, like Australia, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.

Dawson and four county film commissioners visit Hollywood a few times a year to meet with studio executives and other industry decision makers, and attend the Location Expo and American Film Market in Los Angeles to keep Hawaii's profile prominent.

The office has also been tenacious in convincing legislators to provide financial incentives for productions through tax rebates and investment credits with Act 221.

This year, the commissioners will have to request incentive increases to compete with locales that are also aggressively trying to lure productions.

The commissioners have attended the Sundance Film Festival annually to meet with studio executives.

Budget constraints will prevent the marketing trip next month. Ironically, that's because Dawson had to cut $110,000 from her marketing budget to hire additional support staff to keep up with the current production frenzy on Oahu.

Hawaii Film Office

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