Permits, Hawaiian Style
Like many states, Hawaii requires film permits for all filming activity that takes place on public lands, waters, and streets. There are 5 film offices in Hawaii that are charged with processing film permits: the state film office and the county film offices of Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
The state film office is a one-stop shop for securing film permits for state-administered parks, beaches, highways, harbors, waters, forests, and facilities. The office interacts daily with other state, federal, and county agencies on behalf of filmmakers so that they do not have to deal directly with each individual agency. In fact, the film office has memorandums of agreement with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that help facilitate and speed up the permit approval process. Most state locations are free; there are a few exceptions with nominal fees.
Permits for shooting on city streets and city/county property are issued by the county film offices. Each county film commissioner liases with the respective county agencies to obtain the necessary approval for shooting.
This streamlined permit process has proven invaluable to producers and location managers who often need to get permission very quickly to shoot their projects at various locations throughout the state, and do not have time to hunt down individual state and county agencies for permits. By having dedicated film permit specialists to push permit applications through the system, productions can avoid delays, which often drive up costs.
"Lost" location manager Jim Triplett says that this "encourages productions to be here because you don't have to go through all these government agencies yourself. The streamlined permit process makes it easier for me to do a shoot like 'Lost,' where everyone's buried with so much work. Every additional layer we have to go through makes it much more difficult to get things done."
Veteran local line producer Dana Hankins says of our permit process: "One phone call and one filled-out form always gets me a prompt response to my permit request, along with personalized attention every step of the way. I especially appreciate having the state and/or county film office track the permit through the various governmental agencies in our 'local' style, as well as offer wording suggestions that help speed up the response. Also, last-minute changes to filming locations are often based on weather and water conditions, so having experienced film offices understand and assist in these fast-paced situations is incredibly helpful."
At the state film office, there are currently two film permit specialists, Sandi Ichihara and Brent Anbe, who are intimately familiar with the ins and outs of securing permits, including all of the special cultural and environmental sensitivities particular to shooting in Hawaii. Sandi and Brent both have close working relationships with representatives at DOT (Airports, Harbors, Highways), DLNR (Beaches, Parks, Forests, Small Harbors), Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and Department of Defense, among many other agencies.
Sandi and Brent are also strongly personally invested in making sure that our locations are protected during shoots and returned to their original condition. In fact, they often negotiate ways for productions to improve the locations they use, such as repaving roads or replanting forests with native species.