If you live in a jungle or under a waterfall, Benita Brazier wants to talk to you. No, she's not part of Green Harvest, although she does work for the government. Benita is Maui County's film commissioner, coming off a banner year of movie production on the Valley Isle.
Sparked by Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter," Adam Sandler's upcoming "Just Go With It," an episode of TV's Emmy-winning "Modern Family" filmed in Wailea, and the made-on-Maui comedy "Get a Job" that premieres Sunday at the MACC, she's helped bring more than $62 million into local coffers.
Add another $10 million for "The Tempest," Julie Taymor's adaptation of the Shakespeare classic that filmed on Lanai last year and is now opening in time for awards consideration, and it's clear that movies are not only a beautiful marriage of art and commerce, but a clean, nonpolluting industry that leaves locations better than they found them.
Which is why Benita wants to see your land.
"I'm looking for tropical locations, private property with waterfalls and jungle settings," she says. They would be a nice addition to her inventory of local locations she can show to scouts for upcoming shoots.
Obviously, Maui County has been able to offer lots of different "looks" for movie shoots, but Benita wants to give Kauai and Oahu a run for the money when it comes to "Jurassic-" or "Lost"-style lushness.
In the meantime, she is also continuing efforts to get the Maui Land and Pine's landmark Kahului cannery, now closed, up and running again in a new line of work. With its wide-open floor plan and expansive, practically pillar-less open space, it's a natural.
"We are actively marketing the facility as a stage space that would include live filming as well as digital production work," she says.
But she's also focusing on private property locations, where crews can largely avoid impacting Maui infrastructure with their big trucks and other equipment. It doesn't take much to create gridlock in Paia or on Front Street getting off the beaten track is a boon for everyone.
So what's in it for you to get your land onscreen? Well, apart from maybe having the chance to schmooze for a day or two with Clint or Adam or Julie or Jennifer, the money's not bad, either.
"Location fees can run from $500 a day to upwards of $3,000 a day depending on the company," she says.
Interested? E-mail her at filmmaui@mauicounty. gov or call 270-7415.
But that's not the only way to get your big break in pictures.
Maui native Destin Daniel Cretton was awarded the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting earlier this month from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A $30,000 cash prize accompanied the prestigious fellowship, bestowed by the Hollywood academy better known for the annual awards that bear its name.
He won the prize for the screenplay of "Short Term 12," based on his experiences working at a facility for at-risk teens in San Diego. The theatrical screenplay was "loosely" based on a documentary he did on the same subject, which won the Sundance Jury Prize and made the short-list for an Oscar nomination. That was "loosely" based on his personal experience, he said during a recent phone interview.
A 1996 Maui High graduate who attended MCC for two years before completing his bachelor's degree at Point Loma Nazarene University, the 32-year-old filmmaker is finishing up work on his master's degree in film, television and new media at San Diego State University.
He's working with the production company Traction Media, whose past credits include "Half Nelson" with Ryan Gosling and "Hard Candy" with Ellen Page, hoping to direct "Short Term 12."
It will be a small, independent character-driven piece, revolving around issues of child abuse, neglect and the realities of foster care, he said of the project.
"Hopefully it will happen, but you never know with this stuff," he said with a laugh. He added that all the successes he has already achieved in his career always catch him by surprise.
"I was definitely not expecting to get it," he said of the Nicholl Fellowship. "I never expect anything to happen in my life."
And finally, aiming slightly lower, a bunch of us are getting our own break in the movie business this week, with Sunday's benefit premiere party for the made-on-Maui comedy "Get a Job."
Granted, being an extra in a local, low-budget production is a long way from the Oscars - but you've got to start somewhere.
We've all got our own things to add to the list on this wonderful day of Thanksgiving.
* Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com.