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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 10:40

Scouting with Location Manager Jim Triplett

Written by  James Thompson
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jimtriplett_hawaii_2Many say that veteran Location Manager Jim Triplett is the go-to person for finding film locations on the Hawaiian Islands. On the CBS hit drama "Hawaii Five-0," Triplett and his support team of six (two assistants, two set production assistants and two office assistants) work steadily to find, secure and manage the show’s locations.
While most of the show’s filming takes place on Oahu, the crew has had opportunities to venture out to a few distant locations, such as Lanai, a small, quiet island (once owned by the Dole Food Company) with a small historic town. Triplett likes working in locales like Lanai, because he gets to deal with a different group of people, such as the Hawaiian Culture Society and the island’s permitting authority, the County of Maui. However, there are obstacles to get to these locations. “They’re considered 'distant locations,' and there are many added costs to film there, such as transporting and housing the crew," explains Triplett. "Most of the filming in Hawaii is done in Oahu because that is where the crew is.” Triplett also points out that the locals have affection for the filmmakers of "Hawaii Five-0" due to the popularity the original series brought to the island. "Businesses and residences seem to want to participate because of the fondness in their hearts for the project," he says.

Triplett believes that Hawaii offers more than just beaches and jungles. "Hawaii Five-0" often films in luxurious estates, including the house where President Barack Obama stays when he visits Hawaii. Part of Triplett’s education for working on the Hawaiian Islands came from his six years as a location manager on the ABC series “Lost,” a show that proved that the Hawaiian Islands can double for a variety of worldly locations. "We went all around the world [and] we never left Oahu," says Triplett, adding that the show filmed three shots in Los Angeles and the rest in Hawaii. "We can play England, we can play Africa, we can play Los Angeles [and] we were in Korea. We really went around the world but we never left here."

After "Lost," Triplett got a call to work on the feature film The Descendants, and he jumped at the opportunity to work with acclaimed Filmmaker Alexander Payne (Sideways). "A lot of people came together to work with Alexander Payne," Triplett recalls. According to Triplett, when several "Lost" crewmembers went on to The Descendants, they complained about the TV show’s tough schedule and locations (jungles and beaches), to which Payne responded, "You’re kind of like a wounded stray dog, and I’m going to nurse you back to health and show you what filmmaking is all about." And the filmmaker did exactly that. "He is a thoughtful guy," says Triplett, noting that The Descendants was a great project for Hawaii because Payne wanted authenticity. "Alexander was all about doing it real [and] showing the true Hawaii,” he reports. "There wasn’t really a movie about Honolulu, so he wanted to capture the essence of Honolulu." While most of the filming took place on Oahu, the production did extend out to Kauai and the Big Island for second-unit work and establishing shots.

Triplett assures that filmmakers considering the Hawaiian Islands will get first-rate treatment from residences and businesses as well as local and state governments. "They understand the value of having features and television shows filming here," says Triplett. "The government gets it."

Photo above: (L-R) Location Manager Jim Triplett and Assistant Location Manager Kent Matsuoka 
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