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The Conversation

'Aloha Surf Hotel' director on the local film scene

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"Aloha Surf Hotel" was shot entirely on Maui.

Films and network television series will continue shooting in our islands as the union for the production crews iron out the final details of its new agreement with Hollywood.

Meanwhile, several locally produced films continue to find their way into the spotlight. The Hawaiʻi International Film Festival will debut several of them next month. And one shot entirely on Maui, "Aloha Surf Hotel," is now available through video-on-demand services.

Aloha Surf Hotel
Stefan Schaefer

It’s a comedy written and directed by Stefan Schaefer. He grew up on the East Coast and in England. His previous films have won awards at several film festivals. He moved to Maui with his wife and kids 12 years ago, after his wife’s mother, who had been living on the Valley Isle, passed away.

At the time, he had heard about Act 221 — a broad tax credit program meant to spur Hawaiʻi's tech industry — and a few possible projects, but there was not much happening.

"And then, funnily enough, I was looking for a used car on Craigslist and came across an ad that said, 'Looking for an experienced film producer,'" Schaefer said. "And I was like, 'Oh no, here it goes.'"

Schaefer says he’s currently writing a feature film for Warner Brothers that will shoot in Europe, and developing several other projects set in Hawaiʻi. The filmmaker is hosting an "Aloha Surf Hotel" Amazon Prime Watch Party this Sunday. Click here for more information.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Oct. 21, 2021.

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