New film commissioner announced

A unit still photographer, who has worked on the sets of movies including “Legally Blonde,” “Meet the Fockers” and “Remember the Titans” and is a former National Football League kicker, has been named the new Maui County Film Commissioner, the county announced Tuesday.

Tracy Bennett of Kihei was named to the post, which previous reports said paid between $60,000 and $65,000 a year. He replaces Harry Donenfeld, who held the job for the past two years. No explanation has been given by county officials or Donenfeld as to why the position became vacant.

The new film commissioner is a 17-year veteran of the film industry as a unit still photographer, who takes photos of film sets or does studio shoots for press and publicity. He has worked on the sets of major motion pictures with budgets ranging from $2.5 million to $150 million.

Those movies include “50 First Dates,” “Just Go With It,” “Grown Ups” (and the sequel), “Barbershop” (and the sequel), “Armageddon,” “Get Smart,” “Dodgeball,” “Along Came Polly,” “Friday,” “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.”

His personal relationships include film and studio executives, directors and actors, such as Adam Sandler, Ice Cube, Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

“Maui is in a great position because of our new 25 percent tax incentive, brand new film studio and sound stage and the many settings that we offer both film and television,” Bennett said. “I’m extremely motivated and excited to bring my experience, contacts and relationships to help expand a booming industry here.”

He noted that resources “like many other government film offices” are tight.

“I will be working extra hard to bring our Maui County industry leaders together to collaborate and move our film industry forward,” said Bennett. “We need to pool our resources and use every available avenue to promote Maui’s film assets.”

Bennett also has experience as a producer on two feature-length films.

“We really appreciate the fine work the committee did, and we want to thank them for their dedication,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa of the search committee that recommended the new film commissioner. “Tracy Bennett has the credentials to move this industry forward, and I look forward to having him on our team.”

Bennett is a former kicker for the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.