Valley Isle Production: Talking story with Paul Ehman and Glenn Beadles

There’s a reason why Maui’s Paul Ehman and Glenn Beadles have run successful production houses for 35 and 25 years, respectively.

In separate interviews, the men agreed in essence that their achievements occurred for several reasons, including providing great customer service, qualifying their customers, keeping up with technology, building a great team, and going the extra mile.

Ehman Productions continues to be one of Hawaii’s leading production companies, producing award-winning sports programming, reality shows, print campaigns and commercials. The company also provides grip and lighting packages, production equipment, expendables, trucks, generators and crew.

Paul Ehman

Paul Ehman

Ehman says much of his company’s success is due to customer service. He says a good customer service experience gets clients talking about his business with their friends and other business relationships. He also notes that qualifying prospects before turning them into customers is “important.”

“I believe good customers are passionate about their business, whether it’s feature films, television, commercials or a still shoot,” he says. Good customers have passion, communicate well, and listen to suggestions, adds Ehman.

While the modest Ehman says he’s been “very lucky,” he also emphasizes the hard work he and his crew of 10 do. Ehman isn’t stingy when it comes to crediting his core crew with making the company so successful.

“It’s more important than ever to have talented creating people on your team,” he says. “Great video production teams consist of people who are excellent at creating great-looking titles and graphics screens… Originality is the key to successful video production and talented people are innovative.”

Another key to Ehman’s continued success has been keeping up with technological trends and investing the time and materials.

“We manage our time to include reading and maybe watching videos to keep up with new technologies,” he says.

Ehman says that’s important because new software and techniques are released and discovered on a daily basis.

“We don’t wait for calls to come in,” he says. “We go out to get jobs to produce and work on.”

For CBS’s The Amazing Race, Ehman and company created the concepts for the Hawaii shows, including “writing the whole show,” and then produced them.

“It takes a lot of specialization and time to do a show like Amazing Race,” he says. “But (we) have to come up with the jobs to keep us working.” For The Amazing Race, the company worked on six episodes from 2005 to 2013.

Other television work has included The Dating Game, Destination Paradise, Disney Vacations, Ford Super Model, Hawaiian Tropic, and My Fair Brady (VH1). Feature films have included Crowfoot (Paramount Pictures), Gone to Maui (Hallmark), In God’s Hands (Sony Pictures), Off the Lip (Film Farm), and Hereafter (Warner Bros.). Ehman has also done music videos for Jack Johnson, Hootie & the Blowfish, Mary J. Blige, Big Mountain, LL Cool J, and Mötley Crüe, as well as dozens of commercials, sports-themed events, print and still shoots.

Ehman Productions’ schedule hasn’t slowed down in 2013 or 2014. This year they did a two-day shoot for a Subway commercial that introduces two new sandwiches. The spots were filmed in a Kula, Maui, avocado orchard and vegetable field. There have also been marketing program productions that included a Tupperware convention in Waimea on Hawaii Island, a pilot also on Hawaii Island for the reality show The Ark, and one episode of Brew Dogs for Esquire Network.

In Brew Dogs, Scotsmen James Watt and Martin Dickie bring an evangelist’s sensibility to their celebration of craft beer and part of their hope is to convert craft beer virgins. Each episode’s premise is simple: They visit a town with a thriving craft beer scene, Anthony Bourdain-style, and brew a crazy beer celebrating that scene.

Ehman Productions is also in the planning stages for two more reality shows, which the company isn’t allowed to discuss.

Ehman says every project is different and a challenge.

“You can go along on cruise control, then someone doesn’t show up for work or a truck breaks down, the horse doesn’t do what you want it to, equipment gets lost or broken, or someone gets hurt,” he says. “You have to be diligent and prepared. You’re on the spot all the time, but you just deal with it and fix it.”

One of the company’s most recent shoots was Mike Myers’ documentary on Maui’s bigger-than-life entertainment and restaurant entrepreneur Shep Gordon called Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.

“We worked a week on Maui filming interviews and going to situations where Shep was attending to interview him, his friends, and colleagues,” says Ehman.

The film debuted at the Maui Film Festival in June.

Likely the most thrilling shoot Ehman worked on this year was the remake of Point Break in 50-plus-foot surf at Maui’s Jaws surf break. Ehman served as marine coordinator.

“We arranged for all the boats and gyros, putting everything together in our warehouse,” he says. “We spent two days building the picture boat.”

The winter swell was forecast to be the largest in decades, so the call from Los Angeles that the shoot was a go came in just two days before the swell hit.

The surf, Ehman says, was “epic.”

“It was everything the production company wanted,” he adds. “We were supposed to leave Jaws around 3 p.m. to get back to the other side, but the surf was so perfect that we stayed until 4:30.”

Ehman and company made sure they had the state’s best water safety team, including Brian Keaulana and Archie Kalepa, and the best captains and boat crew.

“We had to since the conditions were so dangerous,” he explains. “The production was very cool with letting us do what we wanted to do.”

Were there close calls?

“No, but definitely hairy moments,” says Ehman. “Were we scared? Uh, yeah, the whole time!”

With nearly a quarter-century of experience as a Maui-based production and locations manager, Glenn Beadles has worked on his share of challenging shoots. But when asked about his most difficult projects, he takes mere seconds to respond.

Glenn Beadles

Glenn Beadles

“Uh, Peahi and, uh, Peahi,” says Beadles.

For the non-surfing crowd, Peahi is a behemoth of a wave commonly referred to as Jaws. Surf here can exceed 50 feet, and that’s just what happened earlier this year—just in time for producers of Point Break to scurry from Hollywood to Maui to film “thrill-seeking” surfers riding the massive waves.

Beadles was Point Break’s Hawaii locations manager. The project was fraught with danger and logistical problems.

“We needed state permits to film offshore on Maui and on Oahu because originally we thought we could film this swell in both locations,” says Beadles. “There was a lot of paperwork and preparation even though we started pre-pro just after Thanksgiving.”

The production ended up only filming Jaws because conditions on Oahu were rainy and stormy. Swells were so huge that there was also a chance that Maui’s Kahului Harbor would be too dangerous to get the needed boats and water craft in and out.

“It’s very rare that the state would close the boat harbor, but they could have left it up to the discretion of the boat captains,” says Beadles. “If that had happened, we would have had to use Maalaea Harbor on Maui’s leeward coast, a much longer trip to Jaws.”

In 2001, Beadles faced some of the same problems when he assisted the producers of the James Bond film Die Another Day for a similar sequence at Jaws. In what would be the film’s opening sequence, big wave riders Laird Hamilton, Derek Doerner and Dave Kalama were paid to deliberately wipe out on 35-plus-foot waves at Jaws. That film sequence cost about $750,000. Point Break’s Jaws scene cost around $1 million.

“We had the same type of professional water team working with us on both shoots, but there are a lot of moving parts and elements in something like this,” says Beadles. “It was extremely complex and I’m thankful no one got hurt. In fact, I’m amazed no one didn’t.”

Some 50 Hawaii water and land crew worked on Point Break, according to Beadles.

“It was, uh, exciting,” he says. “Very exciting.”

As a Hawaii production and locations manager, Beadles reiterates that the challenges of filming on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, as opposed to the central island of Oahu, are numerous, but “the rewards are well worth it.”

“All of Hawaii’s production managers and locations managers have to deal with a client’s often limited resources and budgets,” he says. “I think we still manage to produce some of the more dramatic shows, commercials and photo shoots that highlight the incredible scenery that neighbor island locations offer.”

A frequent question that Beadles gets asked is, “Why does it cost more to shoot on the neighbor islands?”

His answer is always the same: “Because of the production value you’ll have up on the screen from the dramatic locations you choose.”

He adds, “Eventually, production executives realize that those production values make it well worth the increased costs.”

In the past year, Beadles’ company On Location Services has had several still photo shoots and catalogue work for clients such as The Gap, J. Jill, and Hanna Andersson Clothing.

“That’s been our bread and butter for the last several months,” says Beadles. “We’ve also been doing a lot of scouting for projects, including a sunglasses manufacturer in Canada.”

On Location Services, which incorporated in 2001, is considered one of Hawaii’s most experienced and professional companies that provides complete film production, location, coordination, management and photographic services.

Beadles and company have extensive experience with aerial, marine, land and water sports cinematography, videography, and 35mm, medium and large format photography for national and regional commercials, feature films, television episodic shows, high fashion, catalogue and magazine editorials.

“Location scouting, coordination and production management is our specialty with access to Hawaii’s most film-friendly, dramatic scenery and exclusive locations,” says Beadles, who is a published professional photographer.

But Beadles does not rest on his laurels.

“I actively pursue and am involved with a number of advertising agencies that request my stock imagery and access to my locations database,” he says. “I get quite a bit of referral business through those agencies and clients I’ve worked with.”

The biggest challenge remains making sure that clients get the quality they seek.

“They may want Mercedes-Benz quality on a Volkswagen budget,” says Beadles, “but you just do your absolute best.”

2 comments to Valley Isle Production: Talking story with Paul Ehman and Glenn Beadles

  • Your great work and accomplishments are profoundly appreciated, and I wish I could have had an opportunity to work with you . Unfortunately that never happened due to false and undelivered promises of a person. May god bless you with great health and success in all your projects. Your loyal friend from Maui, Nader”Nanoa” Parsia, Aloha & E Ola Koa

  • Both great people and the ultimate professionals! Always enjoyed working with them.

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