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lazing on a raftMichael Gough's
Hawaiian Production Diary

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What is a holiday movie?

This is the basic question that haunts every movie maker and club. Should it be in the holiday competition or the documentary? Should the primary audience be family, friends or the general public? I want to make a record that will be enjoyed by the family as a holiday souvenir and also, hopefully, entertain a general audience. Sometimes the balance is hard to keep. Family holiday films about children eating icecream and making sandcastles can sometimes be too personal and may have limited general appeal.

One great advantage of video is that you can make two different versions from the same material. I have a holiday version of St.Petersburg which I produced for my travelling companions which is full of lighthearted memories including friends making fools of themselves doing Russian dancing. I then re-edited it as Peter's Monument the more serious historical documentary that got a gold seal in the IAC Competition 1999. The pictures are the same only the script and the structure of editing has changed. I don't know now how the Hawaii video will be structured but hopefully most people will be entertained.

palm treesWhat do I already know about Hawaii?

We all pick up images of a place, usually from the media. Hawaii Five-0h, From Here to Eternity etc. Names of places stick in our mind, "Waikiki", "Pearl Harbour" with views that we must seek out.

What else can I pick up?

I like to understand the background of a place before I arrive and often read locally based novels such as "The Kapilan of Malta". This time my son bought me a wonderful collection of travellers tales about Hawaii. I also bought a guide book and explored the world wide web. I usually hire a car but I'll leave it till we get there. Our apartment is right in the centre of Waikiki. We may limit ourselves to guided tours elsewhere. I have been listening to Hawaiin music on the internet and am already feeling in the mood.

Themes and schemes?

In the process of thinking about the holiday I have already formed some ideas about possible themes. It will not pre-determine what I will see and think when I get there. It is just a recognition that we only have a few days and any prior thought will mean that we don't waste any unrepeatable opportunities. These ideas are never pre-fixed, I always remain open to the spontaneous idea.

I remember going to Venice for two days. I had done the research but there was nothing that I had read that could prepare me for what I felt. I was gobsmacked and I realised that editing around such mundane commentary as "This is a gondola" was superfluous. Venice had to be simply absorbed as a visual feast. The finished film (Super 8mm!) was simply cut to Vivaldi without any commentary and titled Reflections of Venice.

Back to Hawaii. I would like to produce a video that is different from my others, and I certainly don't want to call it just "Hawaii 2000". If I want the date I will put it in the credits. It would be nice to come up with a really imaginative treatment but it is almost arrogant to believe that I will find a totally original theme which has never been recognised by the millions of other movie makers that have used Hawaii as their location.

I have a few initial ideas on themes and titles. Did you know that the word "Aloha" has three meanings, "Hello, Farewell and Love"? or that Hawaii is further from any mainland than any other group of islands in the world? It is also called "the Paradise Island" … how about the title "Another Day in Paradise"?

The travellers cheques were collected this morning. We will start packing this afternoon. Hawaii here we come.

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Page updated on 19 January 2011
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