Interview by Christine Thompson

“We created this challenge to give emerging filmmakers a once-in-a-lifetime platform for their voices, and to extend established talent the opportunity to have a truly unique shoot experience,” said Mark Blackburn, co-founder of HFC

Hawaii Film + Arts International today announced their First Annual Hawaii Film Challenge, an international screenwriting contest open to a global pool of talent, and awarding three winners airfare and lodging for their creative team, as well as casting, production staff, and equipment support, and a 10-day shoot and production experience in Hawaii, culminating in an exclusive screening.

The competition is open to entrants 21 years of age and older, and is targeting short film scripts (10-12 minutes) from passionate filmmakers who want the opportunity to have their story produced.

We spoke with HFC’s Creative Director, Kara Jovic, who told us a little bit more about the new competition. She indicated there was a full team available for winning script writers who don’t have a crew, but if they have a crew of people they’d love to work with they would fly the entire team to Hawaii.

Note:  The Final Deadline: June 2017

Hawaii Film Challenge Creative Director Kara Jovic. Photo: Stefano Fabrizio Darold

AMFM: Who started this contest, and why?

KARA: There are two founders.  They are Sanford Hasegawa and Mark Blackburn, who are both heavily involved in the community in Hawaii.  They have helped launch international artists and supported young local artists as well.

They are both very passionate about film, there is a natural transition from the way art tells a story and film tells a story, so what they did for the arts community in terms of creating platforms for artists’ work, they would love to do for filmmakers as well. 

AMFM:  The contest is open to the rest of the world, and not confined to just Hawaii, what was the impetus behind that?


The idea was to create an international platform for Hawaii filmmakers to tell their stories while fostering interaction with filmmakers from around the world.

We’re passionate about creating opportunities for filmmakers in Hawaii and abroad to collaborate and get inspired by their shared love for creating great films. 

So at the end of shooting, the three teams – two international and one from Hawaii – will all be in the same room, and there will be a chance for them to share ideas during post-production. So even though they will be shooting different movies, they’ll be using the same post-production studio, and there will be a screening event here in Hawaii at the end of the challenge so they’ll get to celebrate and enjoy everything together.  The idea is to get that exchange going. 

AMFM: I see, so it would be cross-pollinating for a later date.  Like SXSW in Austin, Texas where filmmakers meet and new movie ideas are born.  So you are wanting to bring in fresh filmmakers to meet and interact with the Hawaii Film Community.

KARA:  We are getting a cross-section of people, those who are just starting out and those who have been in the industry a long time.  This year if the winning scripts are from Japan, or London, next year it might be Canada and New Zealand.

So as the concept develops, we will be creating a community of up and coming international filmmakers.  

AMFM:  As far as the end product, what do you plan to do with the short films that win?

KARA:  The winning films will be submitted to film festivals around the world, that’s part of the reward.  We would be a supportive long term connection.  

Hawaii Film Challenge Website –



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