EXCLUSIVE! SOUL SURFER BEGINS FILMING IN AUGUST

EXCLUSIVE! SOUL SURFER BEGINS FILMING IN AUGUST

Soul Surfer feature film execs
(Soul Surfer executives at Turtle By Resort): (L-R) Debbie Schwartz, co writer; Doug Schwartz, producer/co writer; Sean McNamara, director/producer/co writer; Tiffany Hofstetter, consultant for Bethany Hamilton; and Dutch Hofstetter, producer.

The long-awaited feature film Soul Surfer begins eight weeks of  filming in August, primarily on Oahu, two days on Kauai, and a day in San Clemente, California. Filming will be preceded by seven weeks of pre production beginning next month…

“Some film people in Hawaii said this film would never be made, well we’re on our way and Soul Surfer is here,” said Dutch Hofstetter, one of the film’s producer. At $10-million, Soul Surfer to date is Hawaii’s biggest budget feature of 2009. The film is scheduled for general release next June…

Other members of the Soul Surfer creative team includes Hofstetter;  Sean McNamara, producer, co writer, and director; Doug Schwartz, producer/co writer; and Debbie Schwartz, co writer…Hofstetter is also surfer Bethany Hamilton’s manager and has the rights to her story.

bethanyhamilton1

The film is based on Hamilton’s best selling book about her vicious attack by a tiger shark in 2003 on Kauai’s North Shore. Hamilton’s left arm was severed at the shoulder with one surgical like bite bite from the shark. The film chronicles Hamilton’s recovery from the attack and subsequent success on the surfing contest circuit…

McNamara and Schwartz have extensive Hawaii production experience. McNamara is co owner with David Brookwell of Brookwell-McNamara Entertainment, which produced the popular television series Even Stevens that  shot some episodes in Hawaii as well as three seasons of Beyond the Break filmed on Oahu’s west side…Schwartz was a producer-writer on all 324 episodes on Baywatch and co produced two Baywatch movies of the weeks in Hawaii…

The Soul Surfer script was completed this month while the writers were ensconced at the Turtle Bay Resort where the production is based. Much of the film will be shot on the resort’s surrounding property, including most of the eight scenes showing Hamilton being attacked by the tiger shark. The shark attack scene in part will be filmed at Turtle Bay Resort’s Baby Beach, north of the hotel…

overview-of-turtle-bay-resort-locations-for-soul-surfer-copy
Soul Surfer shark attact scenes will be shot at the Turtle Bay Resort beaches at lower right.

The 10 principal characters, including a respected and known actress to portray Hamilton, are being cast in Los Angeles. Casting could be announced as early as  mid July. Two A-list male actors are considering working on the project, sources said…Hawaii surfer Ben Aipa will portray Hamilton’s surfing coach. Hamilton is not acting in the film but will do all her character’s surfing…

Schwartz described the Soul Surfer feature as “Blue Crush meets Jaws but with an uplifting tone”…

According to the producers, some water scenes may be shot in the water tank at the Hawaii Film Studio. About 80 percent of Soul Surfer will be shot on Oahu, two days on Kauai also with the principal cast members, and one sequence at a Southern California surf contest. (Oahu’s Kahuku Hospital, which has been used in several Lost episodes, will “stand in” for Kauai’s Wilcox Hospital where Hamilton received emergency care after the shark attack.) About 20 Oahu locations will be used for filming…

The film is doing most of the shooting on Oahu rather than Kauai because there’s more infrastructure here and a solid crew base, the producers said…

McNamara and Schwartz plan to use  many of the same crew from their Hawaii shows, including Brian Keaulana as water work director and Greg Barnett, who lives in Los Angeles, as second unit director. Producers also want Hawaii production veteran Francis Conway to be Soul Surfer’s line producer and unit production manager, citing his knowledge of Hawaii crew and the mutual respect between both sides. The production will hire as many local crew as are available  bringing “in a only few keys from the mainland,” McNamara said.

Producers have not yet been in contact with most of the local crew they hope to hire

The producers’ biggest challenge is having the actress portraying Hamilton work as if her left arm is missing, McNamara said…“It’s a visual effect that has to be consistent throughout the film. We have to do it in such away that it’s authentic”…

One  big budget effect will be the shark attack. “We want this to be the best, most convincing, and relentless shark attack every filmed,” Schwartz  said. “Suspense can work very well and not be bloody.”  The trick is to be realistic, scare the audience “a little bit, but remain family friendly,” McNamara added…

Soul Surfer is one in a long line of films and TV shows to base at the Turtle Bay Resort that’s included both Baywatch MOV’s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The Big Bounce. ABC’s Lost uses a remote jungle on the resort’s property as a location…Turtle Bay Resort will be featured in the film with its name prominently used during a surfing competition sequence. Forgetting Sarah Marshall also used the Turtle Bay Resort name in several scenes…

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