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Location filming rises on Hawaiian Islands

Maui sunsetLocation filming surged in Maui County, Hawaii, in 2016, according to official figures.

Production spending in Maui County almost quadrupled in 2016, reaching $15m over 12 months from nearly 60 shoots, compared to just $4m the year before. Commercial shoots were the main local spenders. 

Maui County in fact comprises four Hawaiian islands and is a 40-minute flight east of Oahu, where state capital Honolulu is located.

Production industry veteran Tracy Bennett became Maui County’s film commissioner in 2013 and told local outlet Maui News that escalated promotional activity may have helped boost Maui’s profile.

Hawaii is the most popular part of the US for jungle filming locations but most productions film on Oahu where costs are lower and the crew base larger.

“It costs anywhere from $600,000 to $2m more for productions to bring a crew from Oahu, as opposed to just shooting on Oahu,” Bennett told Maui News.

“Quite frankly, the hotel rates on Maui just can’t compete.

“Every single decision comes down to money, especially when you talk about a big studio. That’s really the biggest challenge. I can get the producers and movie studio execs here because they all vacation here and spend time here. But when it comes to financing and shooting a movie on Oahu, we just can’t compete right now.”

Producers filming in Maui County can get a 25% filming incentive – 5% more than on Oahu – but Bennett is working with local authorities to get the Maui figure increased to 30%.

He added that the high-profile re-imagining of Jumanji with Dwayne Johnson was among several recent studio features that decided against filming on Maui due to the higher costs and limited crew base.