Making a Hawaii Movie … And What’s Your Extravagant Idea?

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BY J. ARTHUR RATH – Being on “screen” was easier when Hawaii seemed new and you knew people welcoming sky-high dreams.  “Blue Hawaii” (Elvis Presley 1961) was set here—it was a post World-War sequel to earlier movies starring Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, and others who caused fantasies of Hawaii as “Paradise.”

“What if” dreams still grow in Hawaii when the sun drops low, then “reaches” the sea, musicians’ background music evoke schmaltzy memories, and drinks yield a feel-good glow. Hawaii is where visitors recharge, become expansive, dream, and sometimes scheme.


Once daylight rises, business “what if” afterglow is usually touched with three letters–“r-o-i”: The French for “king” and
financiers’ acronym for “return on investment.”

Here’s one of my “Happy Hour” stories (actually it’s “Happy Hours,” in my case, since I hang out at Tiki’s where end-of-the-day libations are cheaper for longer than 60 minutes.
I think they are the only place to add an “s” to Hawaii’s happy hour time.)

I’ve composed it to stimulate reflecting on “what ifs” maybe you have inside your head.

“Doing a movie” is such fanciful pretension. Just consider this a personal fairy tale: Menehune and such being my genre these days.  This dream is meant to simulate thinking about ones of your own.

Paul Forney, the multi-faceted local artist’s work is displayed weekends on a fence outside the Honolulu Zoo.  He and I’ve
developed a movie about how local surfing became what it is today.  It includes great sites, ancient traditions, and is both spooky and jolly: our setting is “Bone Yard Reef.”

This will please those believing in Hawaii traditions.  And despite contemporary egalitarianism, it suggests some places
should be revered and protected–instead of becoming transitory experiences within one’s kaleidoscopic life approach.  (In other words don’t sue the state if your companion sticks his head down a blowhole and disappears, and don’t explore places where signs state “Kapu”–keep out. Really!)  That slogan “Don’t Tread on Me,” was very early American and there are places here where it should pertain.

Hawaiian ohana may applaud our perceptions, and maybe even “Keep Country Country” folk will approve–except for
tourist-oriented retailers out there. (Respectful to Haleiwa storekeepers, we include a visitor slurping shave ice.)

Imperiousness is a big part of the modern American id. John Grisham describes such attitudes in lawyer/courtroom dramas. Small-time Forney and Rath have their own perspectives encompassing living and dead.

How does acquire chutzpah to step out our way? By yielding to latent ambition, by discontent with “the same old.”  Being bold enough to dream, and having resolution to follow through. By being artistic, which means seeing things in a new way–he with pen and brush, me with ink and PC.

Do Paul and I have a scheme about this movie thing? Yes! We’re pragmatic and resolute: Script, creative work, and illustrations are done.   Music is pouring out of our heads.  Are we off the wall?  Absolutely, being mundane is boring.  Do we deliver a compelling and important message?  Of course: because we have deep local roots (“akamai” is a Hawaiian descriptor). Mine started growing centuries ago.

“What about our showing skeletons who surf?”  Well, Hawaii is not restrictive.  Just wait ’til you see the last scene, then you’ll know what I mean!

Where do we go from here?  Where hard work and traveling untred paths lead us.  But this essay is not about touting a
work-in-progress that might never be seen. It is a case in point: I wrote it to encourage your following your own dreams—radical, as they may seem.

Regardless of age, we all need dreams and dramas. Don’t be afraid to step out of the Twilight Zone if stuck within. Good ideas sometimes find connections—Paul Forney became mine and we concocted a movie scheme. Being regarded as “crazy” may mean you have novel perspectives (or that you aspire to write novels).

Remember: “’Tis better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.”

Don Quixote jousted with windmills and is one of literature’s most fascinating characters. Following an impossible dream makes life challenging and interesting and stretches one’s mind.  What’s yours?  I’ll listen.

J. Arthur Rath, prolific writer based in Hawaii, is the author of “Being Menehune, My Journal,” Artwork by Paul Forney.