Tuesday, May 24, 2022|
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Hawaii County Council members expressed frustration Tuesday that the county has not yet appointed a new film commissioner.
After the controversial production of the reality TV show “Love Island” in Ninole last year, the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, Relations and Economic Development in October urged county officials to hire a permanent film commissioner for the island.
At a follow-up meeting Tuesday, county Research and Development Director Doug Adams said the search is still ongoing.
County Tourism Specialist Frecia Cevallos has been the interim commissioner since early 2021 after the previous commissioner left the office.
“We are stuck in some of the same issues that many employers are when it comes to finding folks, but we will get there,” Adams said, referring to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment.
He added that his department will make another recruitment push for the position in the next few weeks.
When the commissioner is hired, Adams said their job will be to establishing a “balance” between the economic value of film productions to the county and maintaining environmental and community standards.
Adams said he has worked to improve communication between the Big Island Film Office and other county agencies, saying relevant county agencies such as the planning, fire and police departments have been properly notified of subsequent film productions.
Back in October, Adams noted that the Planning Department was unaware of the “Love Island” shoot until it was already well underway.
Film or TV productions since “Love Island” have been smaller projects that have not required additional construction or Special Management Area use permits, Adams said.
Meanwhile, Adams said the Creative Industries Division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is working on developing an online platform connecting the state and county film offices, allowing for more communication between film offices, county agencies and prospective productions.
“At the moment, we’re pretty much siloed,” Adams said. “There hasn’t been much interaction between us except by picking up the phone or sending an email.”
On the county side, Adams said the consistent problems with the Electronic Processing Information Center, or EPIC, have interfered with efforts to streamline the online film permitting process. He also noted that the Film Office’s current website does not properly convey the county’s requirements for prospective productions.
Council members were eager to provide assistance to Research and Development, but seemed frustrated by the lack of progress.
“Based on the conversation we’re having today, it doesn’t seem like we’ve progressed a lot since our last meeting,” said North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba. “All of my colleagues, we’re always asking how we can help, so please let us know, because we need to get this straightened out.”
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