Creative Lab Hawaii Announces Its Winter 2021 Webinar Lineup and Mentors Focusing on Strategies for Emerging Filmmakers

Posted on Feb 24, 2021 in News

For Immediate Release: February 24, 2021

Panel Featuring Leading Wahine Directors and Producers Honoring Women’s History Month

HONOLULU—Offering insights into micro-budget filmmaking and developing career skills in producing and directing, Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH) announces its lineup of virtual public panels and program mentors for Winter 2021.

Developed through the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s (DBEDT) Creative Industries Division (CID), two free webinars—Directing the Micro-Budget Motion Picture on February 27 and Wahine Make Movies! on March 6—are available to the public, providing strategies for maximizing budgets without compromising vision. Participants will gain real-world insights from some of Hawaii’s most in-demand wāhine filmmakers.

Coinciding with the first panel, an intensive CLH Directing Weekend Ideation will be held for selected applicants, featuring an incredible roaster of coaches and speakers. Coaches will additionally lend their expertise to the public webinar discussion.

“These panels and in-depth development ideations are designed to be results-oriented,” said Mike McCartney, director of DBEDT. “With a thoughtful game plan, media projects with smaller budgets can bring significant gains to the local creative economy, and serve as a calling card for emerging filmmakers and performers to continue to be hired and paid for their craft.”

Among the newly announced coaching team for the Weekend Ideation and free public webinar on Directing the Micro-Budget Motion Picture is Korean-American writer/director Josh Kim. Kim is a graduate of the Creative Lab Hawaii – 2013 Writers Immersive, where he workshopped his award-winning screenplay “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time).” He later directed the film, with the Thai-language motion picture going on to become Thailand’s official entry to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Said Kim, “Creative Lab Hawaii is like no other experience for entrepreneurs that are serious about furthering their career trajectory. With access to working professionals at the top of their craft providing industry insights, participants can sharpen skills, elevate their projects, and get equipped to bring their vision to market.”

Said Georja Skinner, Division Chief of CID and Founder of CLH, “Throughout the pandemic, we have offered our creative community access to mentors from our local industry as well as international leaders in media and entertainment. Many of these working pros include those who have found success from the CLH program, and are a testament to the power of these business skill development opportunities designed to maximize entrepreneurs’ creative and financial potential.”

WEBINAR: Directing the Micro-Budget Motion Picture
Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 2 p.m. HST
Registration link:

Exploring strategies for directing the micro-budget motion picture from both the business and creative side of the craft, this free public panel will additionally complement the intensive Weekend Ideation being held as part of CLH’s acclaimed directing programs. The webinar will feature the following distinguished program coaches as panelists:

  • Connie M. Florez is the founder and CEO of Hula Girl Productions LLC. She recently produced the acclaimed film “Waikiki” (2020), as well as feature projects released by Lionsgate, Netflix, Shoreline Entertainment, and more. Florez is a recipient of the Women in Film/General Motors Alliance Award, and is a graduate of the Creative Lab Hawaii Weekend Ideation Programs in Financing and Indigenous Storytellers.
  • Josh Kim, writer/director of “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time),” has worked as a producer with John Woo on the Korean remake of “A Better Tomorrow” and directed videos for Apple, Google, and NPR. He is currently developing the Chinese-language adaptation of the Hugo Award-winning story, “Folding Beijing”.
  • Hawaii’s Brian Kohne is an award-winning music producer (“Barefoot Natives” – Willie K) and independent motion picture writer, director, and producer (“Get a Job,” “Kuleana – Maui”). Kohne is principal of Hawaii Cinema Inc. and leads the Academy for Creative Media Maui as program coordinator for University of Hawaii Maui College. He is a graduate of the Creative Lab Hawaii – Writers Immersive.
  • Shih-Ching Tsou is a New York-based film producer, director, and multiple Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Independent Film Award nominee. Most recently, she produced “The Florida Project,” which premiered in the 2017 Directors Fortnight at The Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24. The film was chosen by both the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year. She is currently working on her directorial debut, “Left-Handed Girl.”

CLH’s intensive Ideation Programs span an initial weekend session followed by three months of online coaching, and require a baseline of experience from applicants. The upcoming Directing Weekend Ideation will run February 27 and 28, offering insights into micro-budget motion pictures, with the program’s focus geared towards projects that can be budgeted at $50,000 and under. The roaster of coaches and speakers—made up of leading industry professionals from Hawaii and around the world—have been especially selected to foster the specific projects and skillsets of the accepted program participants that were chosen last year, following a competitive call for applicants to the free program.

While coaches will participate both throughout the Weekend Ideation and in the public webinar, speakers will have a one-hour engagement focused expressly on the Weekend Ideation Program Fellows. Speakers supporting the program include:

  • Adi Ell-Ad is an independent editor/producer and instructor with decades of experience in creative film and television production, marketing, and post-production. From the “Power Rangers” to “Kuleana,” Adi is an artistic story-telling editor who brings originality to every project, derived from years of working on both long and short-form projects.
  • Sean Baker is the director of “The Florida Project,” which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24. The film was nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature and Best Director, and Baker was awarded Best Director of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle. His previous film “Tangerine” premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Magnolia Pictures.
  • Director/producer/cinematographer Radium Cheung was named “10 Cinematographers to Watch” by Variety, and “10 Filmmakers to Watch” by Independent Magazine. Cheung has lensed and co-produced acclaimed motion pictures “Starlet” and “Tangerine” with director Sean Baker, the latter shot entirely on a mobile phone. Recently he has focused on scripted TV series including “The Sinner” (USA Network) and “Hightown” (STARZ).
  • Katie Doyle is a CSA casting director living and working in Hawaii, partnering with creatives from across the globe who come to film in Hawaii’s unique environment. Projects include “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Midway” (nominated for the Best Location Casting-CSA Artios Award), both “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Jumanji: The Next Level,” Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes,” and the “Jurassic World” franchise.

Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 1 p.m. HST
Registration link:

Cosponsored by the nonprofit Hawaii Women in Filmmaking, the webinar will feature tips from working filmmakers on how to jumpstart creative careers, get paid, and grow skillsets to stay at the top of the game. Featuring directors and producers of the 2021 Reel Wāhine of Hawaii filmmaking team, the fast-paced discussion will provide best practices and advice from successful women who have survived and thrived in the industry:

  • Anne Misawa has worked internationally in various aspects of film production. Her extensive credits include films such as “Waking Mele” (director, 2000), “Go For Broke” (producer, 2017), and “Story Game” (cinematographer, 2020). Anne is currently an Associate Professor at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • Native Hawaiian filmmaker Erin Lau is a University of Hawaii Academy for Creative Media alum who completed her MFA in Directing at Chapman University. She is a Sundance Native Lab fellow for her film “The Moon and the Night” which has screened in numerous competitions and on broadcast networks. Lau works as a Producer-Director for Jubilee Media, creating content for brands including Google, Netflix, and Always.
  • Heather Haunani Giugni has produced and directed numerous projects including documentaries, television series, and live broadcast events. Her work has been nominated multiple times for an EMMY, winning one for her series called “Family Ingredients.” She is a founding member of Pacific Islanders in Communications and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Creative Media – University of Hawaii West Oahu (UHWO).
  • Shirley Thompson is a veteran documentary editor, writer, producer and story consultant best known for the documentaries she edits, including: “Savvy” (2020), “Ku Kanaka” (2016), “Winning Girl” (2014), and “Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii” (2008). As a Latina and a daughter of immigrants, she is committed to filmmaking that builds bridges across cultures and communities.
  • Vera Zambonelli is the founder and executive director of Hawaii Women in Filmmaking. Her primary work is as a producer and director, with credits including “Reel Wahine of Hawaii” (series producer; director two episodes). Her latest project, “72 Hours,” is a documentary on formerly incarcerated women’s reentry and reintegration. Zambonelli teaches at UHM Women’s Studies and UHWO Academy for Creative Media.

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About Creative Industries Division (CID)
CID, a division within DBEDT, is the state’s lead agency dedicated to advocating for and accelerating the growth of Hawaii’s Creative Economy. Through initiatives, program development, and strategic partnerships, the division and its branches implement activities to expand the business development, global export and investment capacity of Hawaii’s arts, culture, music, film, literary, publishing, digital and new media industries.

About the Creative Lab Hawaii Program
The Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH) Program was founded in 2012 by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic, Development and Tourism (DBEDT)’s Creative Industries Division to accelerate the growth of Hawaii’s creative workforce through immersive, hands-on training in three modules; 1) Immersive Programs (1 year); 2) Ideation Workshops (3 months); and 3) Public Panels and Keynotes.

CLH focus areas include screenwriting, producing, acting, animation, indigenous narrative storytelling, interactive media, acting, music licensing, and design/fashion. CLH is a key facet of Hawaii’s growing creative economy, having developed an ecosystem designed to increase skill sets, export local IP, build a network of creatives working collaboratively, attract investment and build Hawaii’s creative entrepreneurial capacity—all key aspects of our State’s focus on an innovation economy.

About Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)
DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

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Media Contacts:
Susan Wright
Becker Communications, Inc.
(808) 799-4293 (mobile)

Georja Skinner
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
(808) 291-8073