Surf’s Up! ‘Point Break’ Remake Films at Jaws, Maui

Cowabunga, dude!

The legendary Maui big wave surf spot known as Jaws—‘Peahi’ in Hawaiian—was the star of a spectacular shoot in January for the remake of the feature film Point Break, where near-perfect 50- to 60-foot waves broke consistently.

Crew films 'Point Break' on Maui. Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

Crew films ‘Point Break’ on Maui. Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

The original Point Break, shot in 1991, starred Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze and used stock footage of large waves at Waimea Bay on Oahu.

This time, though, the Point Break production had for months been tracking winter storms in Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain and Hawaii that could produce enormous waves needed for the footage. Producers wanted a location that could double for Cortes Bank, a sometimes-surfable seamount 100 miles west of San Diego, where waves close to 100 feet have been spotted.

When it was determined that the waves would be breaking in Hawaii, a team of producers, including David Valdes, along with director Ericson Core and stunt surfers from California, hurried to Hawaii. Two helicopters were used to capture dramatic scenes.

The remake will be pretty much like the original: A young undercover FBI agent infiltrates a gang of thieves who share a common interest in extreme sports. Gerard Butler, who starred in another surfing film, Chasing Mavericks, will star in Point Break. Butler will play ‘Bodhi’ (played by Swayze in the original movie), who’s described as “an extreme-sports athlete who seeks nirvana through the conquest of a series of athletic feats such as surfing 100-foot waves. He saves Johnny Utah, the undercover FBI agent, and brings him into the fold of international criminals.” The production companies are Alcon Entertainment, DMG Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Maui County film commissioner Tracy Bennett called the Hawaii production “really amazing.”

“I’ve spent 18 years in the movie industry and working on big movies and big stunts,” said Bennett. “But that was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.”

Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

Film crews spent one day shooting the giant surf from 7am to 5pm. Several cameras were stationed in the water, on nearby cliffs, and on two Windward Aviation helicopters.

Eyewitnesses said the most memorable stunts had a helicopter hovering about 10 feet over the swirling surf, then suddenly climbing to pass over the swells.

“When you hear (the film crew) explain how it’s going to be and then see it in person, it’s incredible,” said Bennett, who watched the stunts with director Core on the Peahi cliffs. “I’ve been on sets with explosions and car crashes and (they) are very controlled. This was a little different because the helicopter pilot had to rely on his ability to judge wave heights and speed, as well as swirling winds.”

The Hawaii Film Office’s Donne Dawson said she got the call about the production’s imminent arrival on Maui “a couple days before Christmas, which is when they started to mobilize on the onset of these giant (surf) days.”

“I got them registered for Hawaii’s tax credit and also started the process of getting them permitted to not only shoot at Jaws on Maui, but also Oahu’s North Shore,” she said. “We doubled down and cleared the way for them to shoot in both places so they could have maximum flexibility to where the conditions were the best.”

Bryan Berkowitz

Bryan Berkowitz

The Hawaii Film Office needed to get permit approvals from the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation. The film crew also had to have sufficient liability insurance, an “ironclad water safety plan” reviewed by the state, and qualified water safety personnel on scene for the entire shoot, and they could not interfere with nearby surfers, said Dawson.

Hawaii was just the first of several filming locations for Point Break, which won’t begin filming with its cast until June in Europe. However, according to Maui sources, the film crew may return to the Valley Isle for additional shots, after visiting Maui Film Studios in Kahului. The 22,000-square-foot warehouse in Maui Lani is the largest soundstage in the state.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>