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And It All Began with . . .

Hawaii Five-0!

Hawaii needs new, improved, and more numerous film making facilities. Too many full-length productions are going to Atlanta, which has the needed facilities. Yet, history shows that film making has been a good source of revenue and employment for locals. And where did it all begin?

With Hawaii Five-0, of course. Back in 1968, when Leonard Freeman proposed filming his new series in the Islands, there were no facilities: no sound stage, no production facilities, nothing! A quonset hut (a World War II rounded-over airplane hangar) served as the first stage, but it wasn't insulated against either the noise of airplanes flying over or the heat of the 21st parallel. It has been written that filming had to stop whenever a plane flew over and that Jack had to change shirts four times in a day because of the heat and humidity.

Several efforts to find a suitable site failed before the Hawaii Film Studio was built on 18th Avenue, near the base of Diamond Head. It was arranged by three men: Takahashi San*, Yamamoto San*, and Jack Lord.

Entrance to the Hawaii Film Studio

Photo Credit: Webmaster

The studio still stands; still, it was built to accommodate a single television series, not several series and movies. It cannot hope to attract film makers in the numbers that could be attracted if suitable facilities were available.

Production offices at the Hawaii Film Studio (circa 1970 - 2020)

Photographer unknown. Donated by Terri Whitman

The old wooden production offices were replaced with new ones a few years ago. Notice, they preserve the oh-so-Hawaiian Dickey roof, named for its original designer, architect Charles W. Dickey of, you guessed it, Honolulu.

One of the new production offices that replaced the old wooden ones

Photo Credit: Hawaii Film Office

So, what's Hawai'i to do? Well, it seems that a bill has just been read before the Honolulu City Council that would seek to bring in more film studios by offering them property tax incentives. It's a first step, but it is a step in the right direction for a state that attracts visitors, both in person and on screen. I think Jack would approve. What do you think?

* If their names sound familiar, it is because they were honored for their efforts to obtain a film studio in the episode "Pray Love Remember, Pray Love Remember" (Season 1).

Read about it: Bauer, Ian. Film studios bill passes first reading in Council. Honolulu Star Advertiser. October 10, 2023. (Retrieved October 10, 2023).

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