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Two more projects to film on Maui

Movie and miniseries are scheduled to start before end of year

Two more productions will film in paradise against the backdrop of the pandemic, joining the reality show “Temptation Island,” which starts filming this week on Maui.

Maui County Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett said during the county news conference on Monday afternoon that a miniseries by an “acclaimed writer” that features Maui Film Festival award-winning actors is coming to the Valley Isle in the near future, with “98 percent” of filming slated for a Maui resort.

He said that an announcement on the miniseries’ network and other details are anticipated by the end of this week.

“It’s not a reality show; it’s not a dating show,” Bennett said.

The other production is a Christmas movie slated to film toward the end of the year, however, “details are very limited at this point,” Bennett added.

News on the additional Maui productions comes on the heels of the reality TV series “Temptation Island,” which will begin filming this week at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. The production brought about 150 cast and crew, including some from Oahu and Hawaii island, who have arrived in smaller, separate groups throughout the month.

Announced last month amid pandemic restrictions and a state shuttered to tourism, the production drew pushback over its content and the number of people it would bring to Maui. Producers have vowed to stay on location and follow stringent safety protocol.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino initially said he was against “Temptation Island” and officials agreed to postpone filming. Days later, production plans were again given the go-ahead.

During the news conference on Monday, Bennett touted safety protocol at the Andaz, saying more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed and all have come back negative.

When cast and crew wake up, members fill out a medical questionnaire on an app, put on a mask and go to a temperature check and screening center, he added. If members pass screening, they receive a wristband, along with a photo ID badge, which designate a zone restriction. Depending on the length of quarantine and the number of tests done, members may “graduate” into other zones.

The county film commissioner addressed concerns that the production was blocking a Wailea beach pathway or beach access, saying it is “not true.”

Bennett said the area in question fronting the hotel on the makai side of the beach pathway is owned by Andaz and the beach pathway is controlled by the Wailea Community Association. Fencing and cones reroute the public so filming can be done there in the future.

“We would never let any production close beach access to our community,” he said.

Bennett said that 95 percent of “Temptation Island” will be filmed on property. The production company is seeking to film at other locations, though, and cast and crew may leave the site.

“While we have encouraged them to film exclusively at the Andaz . . . they may leave for a couple of beauty shots, if you will,” he said. “We’ve encouraged them to find private property or file for proper permits, whether county or state.”

No county permits are pending as of yet, Bennett said. A state permit for a beach scene has been filed but a decision is pending.

“When the crew does go out, and if they go out, we are encouraging them to minimize contact with the community,” he added.

He said that the production and hotel officials aim to set the bar high for future filming on Maui.

“We feel like we’re trying to set a precedent with other productions coming to Maui,” he said.

State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson told The Maui News last week that about 70 people who had arrived in small groups since Sept. 8, including 15 local hires from Oahu and Hawaii island, had gone through the modified quarantine process and been tested three times, all with negative results as of Sept. 18.

Early last week, three additional groups totaling 28 people arrived, with the last 50 or so people expected by the end of last week, she added.

Bennett said Monday that he and Dawson have lobbied state leaders to keep the film and TV quarantine in place after Oct. 15, which is when the state will launch its pre-travel testing program that will allow trans-Pacific travelers to bypass the state’s 14-day quarantine rule with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

“We feel like we’re setting this high standard for safety,” Bennett said. “Even after Oct. 15, productions will have to go through the modified film and TV quarantine program. They won’t be like normal tourists who come in and just have one test three days prior.”

In other COVID-19-related developments:

• Victorino said Monday that he is still advocating for a second test, or “sandwich test,” to be done within 48 to 72 hours of arrival for trans-Pacific travelers. Travelers would stay in quarantine or within a resort bubble until the second test shows the absence of COVID-19. “Within six days, they have really shown us if they have it or if they don’t have COVID-19,” he said. “This ensures your safety and well-being as residents, as workers and as citizens of Maui County. And importantly that visitors come here will feel safe. They want to know they’re coming to a safe area.”

• Victorino said that the county is looking into plans for Halloween, with the potential for a drive-thru trick-or-treating program in designated areas. “I have some plans on hold right now . . . a drive-thru trick-or-treating where kids would not be roaming the streets, where we could have certain areas designated to come in and pick up several bags of candy and move on,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is congregate and get really big crowds again.”

• Victorino said that the county’s mandate is to wear a mask at all times and physically distance by 6 feet or greater, even if people are participating in public rallies of any kind. “Has it been followed through all the time? No. Our police have constantly gone to various rallies to ask people to abide, to warn them,” he said. “Some have been cited because they don’t want to comply.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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