SOMETHING PILAU ON MAUI AS FILM COMMISSH BENITA BRAZIER IS SENT PACKING!

SOMETHING PILAU ON MAUI AS FILM COMMISSH BENITA BRAZIER IS SENT PACKING!




MAUI COUNTY RESPONDS TO STORY ON ITS FILM COMMISSIONER’S DISMISSAL

“For the last 8 years, Maui County has seen bits and pieces of major movies. A mountain shot from a helicopter here, a surfer on a wave, a jungle scene, etc. Then last year we get one movie, “Just Go With It” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston, which shot for about two weeks.

“But we checked with Ryan Kavanaugh, owner of the Hollywood film company Relativity Media LLC, and he said Adam Sandler had it in his contract that the movie had to be shot on Maui. (Kavanaugh had a copy because his company had originally been approached for financing.) Kavanaugh had also shot in Maui in 2009 for his film “Perfect Getaway.”

“So yes, Maui had a “banner” year in film spending last year, but only because Adam Sandler wanted to be here. It wasn’t because of Benita Braizer.

“We all like Benita and wish her well, but the County does want to set the record straight. We had to make some tough decisions and she was one of them. Still, she was not the goose that laid the golden egg and we remain committed to bringing more films to Maui that shoot more than just one or two scenes.”








Ah politics…



In case you hadn’t heard – and why would you since Maui County never sent out a news release and no media got wind of it – but beloved and respected production veteran and Maui film commissioner Benita Brazier (above) has been oh-so-quietly replaced after eight years on the job…In her eight years as MFC, Brazier helped grow the Maui’s production industry from a $4 million to $5 milion production revenue spend to 2010’s record of $63 million….



Another irony of her removal is that the new Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa was the one who issued Brazier and the entire Maui Film Office its marching orders Dec. 16 when he was the one who originally hired Brazier in 2002 when he was also mayor…Sources said Arakawa was making good on his campaign promise to cut county spending so he supposedly merged the Maui Film Office into another division of the Office of Economic Development. The result is that officially there is no division called Maui Film Office…



The Maui Film Office’s annual budget under Brazier was about $55,000 that included the commissioner’s salary! A message left for the Maui County mayor’s spokesperson to find out what the new budget is and actual savings was not returned….



Brazier’s replacement is political appointee Brianne Savage, who has the title of Sports and Entertainment Specialist. There is one other staff member who is responsible for productions being culturally sensitive about Maui locations, Savage said. The new staff took over Jan. 3…



Savage received her undergraduate degree in sports management from Missouri Baptist University in 2009. A request for her biography was not returned though Maui production sources said she has not worked in a film commissioner’s capacity before or had experience with film and television production…



Teena M. Rasmussen, Economic Development Coordinator, Maui County, emphasized that “the Maui Film Office is NOT closed”…



“Our new administration under the leadership of  Mayor Alan Arakawa is very interested in seeing the film industry continue to flourish,” she said in an email. “He has given us directive to continue the good work of Benita Brazier, and continue to provide the film industry with the high level of service they have become accustom to on Maui”…



Georja Skinner, administrator of the Creative Industries Division for the state of Hawaii film office, is assisting Maui County in this transition so that “we can provide seamless service to anyone inquiring about film work on Maui,” Rasmussen said…



When Brazier took the Maui post she had the most experience with the film, television and music industry than any of Hawaii’s film commissioners. For nearly a quarter century Brazier worked in Los Angeles’ production industry…



“I was never told anything, or advised, informed, or allowed to interview for the position under the new mayor,” Brazier said. “I’m very proud of bringing 32 new IA union members into the fold. And I was able this year to bring in three major film productions to Maui County which had never been done before”…



Brazier said she’s “disappointed that the (production) success enjoyed by the county was not seen as an economic driver and diversifier”…



Maui County officials as of early January still had not announced the film office’s switch in personnel, the name of the new office, or its annual budget…



Several Maui production workers, who requested anonymity, were stunned by the news of Brazier’s departure…



“She helped Maui County attract $60-million plus in production revenues which had never been done before the IA member said. “What does it take to keep a job here?”…



Brazier is considering returning to production work as well as other opportunities. She plans to stay in Maui.

“I loved representing Maui and what a great place it is to live and work,” she said…



Savage can be reached at 808-270-7415 and email at filmmaui@mauicounty.gov

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