LOST Media Mentions - DarkUFO

Lost paradise


Thanks to Hoku for the heads up.

For most O'ahu residents, Mokule'ia is a destination at the far end of their odometer, and YMCA Camp Erdman, which is practically at the end of the road, a distant outpost.

But the tourists are drawn to it like pilgrims. Every day, 10 to 20 people make the drive to the beachside camp, lured by a single fact.

This is where ABC films episodes of "Lost."

"We certainly get more than our fair share of groupies showing up here every day," said Josh Heimowitz, executive director of Camp Erdman. "My maintenance guys are chasing people away all the time. They just want to take pictures of the cabins."

Such is the lure and power of "Lost," one of the most popular TV shows in history.

Ever since the series first aired in September 2004, the show's impact on Hawai'i, where much of it is shot, has been measured in millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs and priceless exposure for the state.

But its run is almost over. As crews are hard at work shooting the show's sixth and final season — working on what executive producer Jack Bender promises will be "a glorious ending to the book of 'Lost' " — the Hawai'i film industry is beginning to wax nostalgic about a show that improved its reputation.

"They have profoundly changed the way the industry looks at Hawai'i in terms of its capability as a film location that can successfully double for any location in the world," said Donne Dawson, state film commissioner. "They have given Hawai'i a whole new calling card, absolutely."

Historically, Hawai'i has been typecast as a place suitable only for filming beaches and jungles. Although "Lost" used O'ahu as a backdrop for a menacing, mysterious island, it also convincingly transformed locations into Korea, Tunisia, Iraq, Australia, downtown Los Angeles and the snow-covered streets of Buffalo, N.Y., Dawson said.

"They allow us now to go to any studio or any major production company globally and say 'Lost' was filmed here 100 percent, and that opens people's eyes to the possibilities Hawai'i has to offer," she said.

From the moment its producers parked a large chunk of airplane fuselage on Mokule'ia Beach in 2004, "Lost" become a fixture in the community. Through its first five seasons, it spent more than $400 million in the Islands, hired 75 percent of its cast and crew locally and, in its most recent season, hired 700 different vendors to handle everything from carpentry to catering to costumes, Dawson said.

"Lost" was also a good neighbor. The show created internships for students at Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawai'i Academy for Creative Media, and its actors made appearances at public school events, Dawson said.

"In the time they have been here, it has been important for them to put down roots in the community," she said. "As a result, they bought homes, got married, put their kids in local schools."

Behind the cameras, "Lost" provided steady work for Hawai'i's film industry technicians, said Donovan Ahuna, business representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 665. He estimates 70 percent of the jobs now go to his members, but that wasn't the case when "Lost" arrived. In the beginning, it was only 30 percent, in part because Mainland television producers typically underestimate local skills, he said.

Steady work has been "a blessing," he said.

"It's going to be a big loss to lose 'Lost,' " Ahuna said. "But that is the way the industry turns, and in the movies, nothing lasts forever. Sometime, sooner or later, they got to get found. Unfortunately, they will — I guess. Maybe they will stay lost."

Whether its stars are lost or found, the series will end. Bender, the show's executive producer, promised as much.

"It will end like it began, in an extraordinary, thought-provoking way," he said. "It is going to be multilayered and rich."

Filming began Aug. 24, and the final season — 18 hours of programming — will run from January to May.

"I think it will be a thrilling, satisfying season that is not going to be without controversy," he said. "Life is messy. Our ending, although there will be answers, every bow may not be tied up. But there will be enough answers to the bigger questions."

Bringing the series to a finale is a bittersweet assignment for the cast and crew, said Bender, who joined "Lost" after the pilot was finished.

"The local crew has become family," he said. "I really adore these guys, and I am hopeful that I will be back with a show in the future. I hope there will be another show that comes in that lasts as long and is a wonderful experience."

The show — and working in Hawai'i — changed those who were involved, especially Bender, who said living in the Islands agrees with him.

"None of us will be the same after 'Lost,' " said Bender, who lives in L.A., where his wife is a rabbi, but spends much of the year working in Hawai'i. "I've learned so many things being executive producer. I am a better person than I was when I started."

The local acting community, which didn't contribute to major parts on "Lost," will miss the show, said Glenn Cannon, president of the Hawai'i branch of the Screen Actors Guild. A lengthy series is never a bad thing, said Cannon, who appeared twice on "Lost" and also had recurring roles in two of the state's previous major TV dramas — "Hawaii Five-O" and "Magnum, P.I."

"Since we don't get that all the time, it's particularly special to us in the acting community," he said. "While the numbers, in terms of use of local actors, are not as great as 'Hawaii Five-O,' there certainly have been a considerable number of people used in the series."

Honolulu actor Ned Van Zandt, who has worked in Los Angeles and New York, said his first and only role in the series came last season. He called the experience one of the benchmarks of his career. He's hoping to be cast for another part.

"I would kill to come back," he said. "It's one of the reasons I've stayed in Hawai'i. It's a springboard."

The visibility it can create for an actor is enormous. After Van Zandt appeared in the Feb. 25 episode, the movie Web site IMDB.com experienced a 300 percent surge in hits as "Lost" viewers checked out the actor's resume, he said.

Because it was so well made, "Lost" raised the bar for local actors, Van Zandt said.

"From my perspective, it's the first really high-quality series in Hawai'i," he said. "This one was so well written. 'Hawaii Five-O' was fun, but 'Lost' is art."

When it comes to exposure for the Islands, the producers of "Lost" equate their success on the small screen to having a $100 million motion picture box-office hit that features Hawai'i every week. And a 10-minute segment of the show translates to millions of dollars in free marketing for Hawai'i, said Walea Constantinau, commissioner for the Honolulu Film Office. "Lost" sells Hawai'i as a tourist destination.

"It is unmistakable that the show is done here," Constantinau said. "And when you have a show with the depth and the breadth and the global reach of what is essentially product placement for Hawai'i, it has incredible impact."

The fact that tourists flock to Camp Erdman is more than an expression of the show's devoted followers, Constantinau said.

"It speaks to the legitimacy of film as a strong marketing element of the Islands," she said.

Camp Erdman honcho Heimowitz doesn't question why the tourists come — "Those are some crazy fans" — but he hopes to take advantage of their devotion when "Lost" packs up and leaves Hawai'i next summer.

ABC plans to auction off much of the show's costumes and props, and Heimowitz wants them for a small "Lost" museum.

"Maybe we could have a 'Lost' experience," he said. "Maybe we could have a structure with different scenes. Maybe we could put a video together."

He's convinced it will be popular, a tourist attraction driven by reruns.

"To me, it has no appeal, but based on the people coming, it certainly would to them," he said. "They are already coming, so shouldn't we capitalize on it?"

Source: honoluluadvertiser

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