KANAKA: A Native Hawaiian word meaning human being, man, person, individual, party, mankind, population
KANAKA is an experimental documentary feature that will be filmed on location, mostly in Honolulu--the most isolated big city and also one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse spots on earth--and the Big Island (aka Hawaii)--the ancestral and spiritual home of the Native Hawaiians and one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world.
This film is NOT about Hawaii as a tropical paradise or a tourist destination. It's the antithesis of films like Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii and Alexander Payne's The Descendants starring George Clooney. It is a film about the people who call these islands their home, and it will strive to tell their stories with the nature and spirituality of the islands as an integral background.
Even though the film is a documentary, it will not present facts. Instead, it will strive to present small moments of what the great German director Werner Herzog--and one of our chief influences--has termed "the ecstatic truth", "something deeper, a kind of truth that is the enemy of the merely factual."
What We Already Have
We already have the basic equipment needed to make this film.
What We Need From You
Now I realize that none of the above makes any sense to those who are not filmmakers. But in other words, what we want to relate to you is that we possess the equipment needed to make a film of high technical quality. For example. the Canon 5D Mark ii was one of the cameras used in Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialism.
Now we realize that we are no Godard, but we want to use all of this great equipment to make the best film possible. And this is where you come in. Even though the times have changed and independent filmmakers like us have access to the same cameras as cinematic legends, we lack the funding.
The film is currently being independently produced by its director Blue Un Sok Kim, its director of sound and music Tobias Elijah Morgan, and its director of photography JP Schmidt. All of them are working pro bono. Since the film is a documentary--albeit a highly non-traditional one--the subjects featured in it will either be paid nothing or just a nominal per diem for their time.
Yet even with many of the traditional expenses being less of a burden on this project thanks to its nature, we still face enormous financial difficulties in making this film. For example, while the project will be filmed mostly on location in Honolulu, we will be making a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii in order to shoot the majestic volcanic activities of Kilauea. We have also made arrangements to shoot an actual enactment of the Kumulipo chant and dance (Kumulipo is the Native Hawaiian creation chant you hear at the beginning of the pre-production trailer) on the very peak of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in the world when measured from its oceanic base and the spiritual home of the Native Hawaiian people.
The filming on the Big Island will mean that we will have to pay for travel, accommodations, rental car, helicopter rides, and so on. And we plan to use the highest quality telephoto lenses for this endeavor. These lenses can run in the tens of thousands. Obviouly we cannot purchse them; however, we can rent them. But even then, the rentals of such equipment can run in the thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the shoot.
This is how we have arrived at the sum of $5,000 as the absolute minimum amount we believe that we need to deliver a high quality end product. Yet in reality, we can use much more to make this film even better. As a case in point, the music for the trailer you see was created by the London-based Tobias by synthesizing a public domain version of the Kumulipo chant and scattered percussions. This was then synched by the Honolulu-based Blue to the footage he has shot in preparation for the film. All of this creative cooperation was done over countless hours of online interaction. While we believe that the trailer speaks for itself and that we can do the entire film this way, we also believe that we can create an even better film by being able to work together in person. This means travel and accommodation expenses, so we can use every dollar we get beyond the $5,000 we are asking for.
Other Ways You Can Help
As the title of the film makes it obvious, this project is about people. It's not about achieving fame or wealth. As one of our cinematic heroes John Cassavetes once stated, "There are many other ways to make money than making movies. If you need to make money, please find some other way to do it. You make movies to lose your money. That is the purpose of making a movie—to put your life into something—not get something out of it."
We are making Kanaka in order to help people reclaim their humanity. So it is absolutely imperative that you help spread the word about this film, so that many people in turn will talk about and eventually watch it. Our goal is to get as many people out there to see it--to see the fascinating tapestry of humanity in all of its manifestations in one of the most isolated and culturally diverse places on earth.
Please remember that no amount of donations is too small. Every dollar will be appreciated. And if you are not in a position to donate money, please help us by spreading the word. It is time for cinema to reclaim its lost humanity, and we want to be a cog in the wheel that will get rolling to make this happen.
MAHALO NUI LOA