Marketing Efforts Generate Industry Awareness, Interest and Work

Hot on the heels of the passage of Hawaii’s enhanced Production Tax Credit, the Honolulu Film Office set in motion an aggressive marketing plan to build awareness of Oahu as a premier film location with an improved rebate program. Interest has been strong with some immediate results.

The enhancements to the Production Tax Credit included an extended sunset date to January 1, 2019, an increase in the per-production cap to $15 million, and a 5-percent increase across the board, making the rebate 20 percent on Oahu and 25 percent on the Neighbor Islands. Click here  for more information.

The first marketing efforts were in October 2013 in Korea at the Busan International Film Festival and at the annual film commission symposium that had a twist, a Producers Market.

Walea Constantinau

Walea Constantinau

“Film commissioners and investors heard pitches from Asian-based producers and had the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with the filmmakers whose projects were of the most interest,” said Honolulu film commissioner Walea Constantinau. “The Asian producers were of course aware of Honolulu and Hawaii as a visitor destination and were excited to hear that there were production incentives, as well. The combination is very powerful.”

Those two events were followed up in November at the American Film Market (AFM) and a private Academy-focused confab called The Contenders.

“AFM brings a global market to one place, Santa Monica,” said Constantinau, “so it was a great venue for a broad-based awareness campaign. It was also a great time to be in Los Angeles and gave me the opportunity to have specific meetings with filmmakers who have projects in development or pre-production.”

One such project was Alcon Entertainment’s remake of Point Break.

Point Break was a project that was on my radar to seek out while in Los Angeles,” said Constantinau. “When they became the darling of AFM, I didn’t think I’d be able to get a meeting, but the head of production, Yolanda Cochran, was very interested in hearing about the rebate and production in Hawaii.”

Constantinau learned that the remake would be an extreme adventure show, and that surfing was indeed of interest.

“They were scouting around the world for the best places to do the film and when it came down to it, (Hawaii’s) great crews—we do have the best watermen in the world—combined with the rebate made us a very attractive destination.”

The wheels started turning in December, with filming coming together with a big swell in February.

Two other potential projects were identified at AFM, one that came to Oahu for a writers scout in December, and the other with a producer/director scout in the spring.

The Contenders was a focused effort towards members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that brought studios and filmmakers together with Academy members for a day of high-level discussions.

“This was a unique mix of people from across the industry, craftspeople, studio executives and filmmakers,” said Constantinau. “It was another great opportunity to build awareness throughout all ranks of the industry.”

The highlight of the marketing campaign to date occurred in January at two Producers Guild of America (PGA) events, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles. While in New York attending a board meeting for the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), Constantinau had the opportunity to meet with members of the PGA East at a roundtable discussion between film commissioners and about 50 producers based in the Big Apple.

“The enhanced rebate was exciting for many of them to hear about… I get the definite sense that the mindset of Honolulu, Oahu, and Hawaii was shifting from unattainable to attainable,” said Constantinau. “That information, coupled with the new JFK direct flights on Hawaiian Airlines, was a very attractive package—especially since we were in the midst of the Polar Vortex.”

The next day, Constantinau was on her way to Los Angeles, where the Honolulu Film Office was a key advertiser of the PGA Nominees Breakfast. The event brings together all 10 of the producers of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards.

“Honolulu was front and center at that event,” said Constantinau. “The Nominees Breakfast brings together key decision-makers who are in the business and who are being highlighted at the height of their careers. It was quite an honor to be recognized at the event and have the opportunity to talk about what Honolulu, Oahu, and Hawaii have to offer to the producers of American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks, Her, 12 Years a Slave, Wolf of Wall Street and Nebraska, as well as the 500 attendees to the event.”

Constantinau was also recently part of a joint marketing effort with the Film Offices of the Hawaiian Islands at the Locations Trade Show in Los Angeles, held in late March.

What’s next?

“There is one more joint event in New York we are working on that would focus on the spot commercial production industry,” said Constantinau. “The new route from Hawaiian Airlines that flies direct into JFK opens up that marketplace to us and we want to be aggressive about going after it.”

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