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A Day in the Life of an Indie Film Producer: The Making of “Under the Blood Red Sun”

How a low-budget independent film set in World War II-era Hawai‘i comes together through a peek into producer Dana Hankins’ work diary.


(page 3 of 4)

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Bailey


Continuity Counts

We agree to shoot Scene 27 for the third time. The first time, it was scheduled for the middle of a day in November, but we ran late so we shot it at dusk. Realizing that we couldn’t cut from dusk Sc 27 to broad sunny daylight Sc 28, we planned a reshoot day in February, when we stood around waiting for the period car—central to the scene—which didn’t show up because the owner had pneumonia.

We’ve tried everything—color correction of the footage, moving the scene to another day in the picture timeline. Nothing works. Now we have to re-create the scene 8 months after we originally shot it. Characters Tomi and Billy have grown in 8 months, as 13-year-old boys do: we see it in their faces, their height/weight. We must get their hair cut in the same style again to downplay any differences. Tomi has his braces (Invisalign) back on, which we asked his parents to take off for filming and don’t dare ask that again. We need the period car, the period wardrobe, the period hairstyles, etc. and have to make sure that the temperament and performances of this third time works with what we’ve now selected.


Photo: Courtesy of Mardi Savage


1:30 p.m.

We also have to find great baseball player doubles for the July shoot day. Our boys are tremendously talented, but not so much in baseball, so we need a great curve-ball pitcher to double for Billy and a fast catcher to double for Tomi. DP Shawn Hiatt has connections to Little League so we reach out to find players who can double and help us get a few good baseball shots. Shots of boys in baseball gear. If there are stand-ins with actors, that could be good.


2 p.m.

Also need to confirm another day of filming at Hawai‘i Plantation Village, a key location for us. For them, another day of disruption, with cameras and cables and lights, while they continue their daily tours. Also, have to handle small portion of shoot day at the field/park next to Hawai‘i  Plantation Village, where we shot a couple of baseball scenes. The park is base for a vagrant population and I may need to call HPD again to keep it clear and safe for my young cast.


2:30 p.m.

Email production stylist Amos Kotomori, now in Thailand, to borrow some key period props—his butsudan (a Buddhist altar or cabinet)—that we need for the shoot. The team will have to dig through racks of wardrobe and boxes of props, all stored at director Tim Savage’s house —in order to pull everything that we need for the July shoot date.


Photos: Courtesy of Daniel Bailey


Need  to reinforce the request for some “wondrous” pigeon shots to add to the first half of the movie. The pigeons, kept by the Nakaji family, play a huge part in the story and need to be elevated into something bigger than we’ve shown. Cam Datanagan, animal wrangler, supplied great-looking birds and showed us what they do and how to film them but we’ve cut too much out of that footage in the first half. Need more.


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