There’s a lot of good news about our film industry in Hawaii.

First, the economic impact of film and television production is big and it is growing. Production expenditures for 2018 are projected to be $477 million, an increase of $157 million over 2017.

That translates into $51.5 million in tax revenue and, equally important, an increase in industry related jobs to 2,527. In addition, Hawaii is taking in over $860,000 in revenue from the rental of two studio and sound stage facilities.

This past week in Ewa Beach, it was exciting to see the positive impact that the production crew from the new “Magnum, P.I.” was having on our community and our small businesses.

The red carpet at the “Sunset on the Beach” world premiere of the first episode of the second season of “Hawaii Five-0” in 2011. Flickr: Ryan Ozawa

While high profile shows like “Hawaii 5-0” and “Lost” provide an ongoing advertisement for our visitor industry there is a much greater benefit to our economic future. Television and film productions drive other creative industries that can grow as a result.

Due to the continuing popularity of these television series and hit movies like “Jurassic Park,” we are witnessing the emergence of a highly trained and experienced group of creative professionals. We’ve reached the point where 80 percent of the film crews are local workers.

Tax Incentives

Make no mistake, Hawaii is in fierce competition with states such as Georgia and New Mexico, who lure productions with generous tax incentives. The availability of experienced local creative and technical talent at every level makes Hawaii an even more attractive destination to film.

Each year at the Legislature, we hear about the need to diversify our economy to make ourselves less reliant on the vagaries of tourism and federal government spending. Maintaining Hawaii as a film friendly locale is fundamental to building and sustaining this creative ecosystem. That system includes not only film but video, animation, music, design, fashion and digital media products such as games and mobile applications.

There are two things we can do to continue our success and maintain our competitive position. One would be to increase our current state program of tax credits for production, which has proven to be a winner for the Hawaii. The second would be to invest in new production facilities.

Our Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head, while conveniently located, can only handle one television series. Fully funding the infrastructure needed for the expansion of the existing operation at UH West Oahu would demonstrate our state’s commitment to an industry which provides lasting benefits for Hawaii’s people.

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