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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 2 of 4)

Photo: Courtesy of Red Sun Prods.


Burl mentions that he’s building a 1/6 model-size radio-controlled Japanese Zero that he’s flight-testing on Ford Island. I ask permission to send Tim and DP/cameraman Shawn Hiatt over to record the test to possibly use as a cutaway in the movie or as reference material. Check how does it fly, what camera motion looks best, how does it look in sun or in clouds?


9:30 a.m.

Send list of to-do items to assistant editor to prep reels for the dialog editor (he cleans up the audio tracks) and go back into the volumes of footage shot in November and February and May—to find footage Band-Aids for anything missing or stuff that we want to cheat in for different scenes, etc.


10 a.m.

Discuss details for our preview screenings with the Pacific Historic Parks–WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Invite list, cast Q&A, author/screenwriter attendance, will their bookstores have the 20th Anniversary Edition on hand from Random House, along with the author’s brand-new book for middle school readers.


The film required 684 pieces of wardrobe.
Photo: Courtesy of Mardi Savage


Need to make sure our special production partners in the 100th Battalion Veterans Club and the 442nd are included in the appropriate screenings. Feeling overwhelmed with emotion that the Sept. 20 screening will be held as an outdoor Movie in the Park on the great lawn at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center, overlooking the USS Arizona and USS Missouri. This little movie has come a long way and we’re honored and humbled to be associated with such august company.


11 a.m.

Phone call with teacher/educator to research how movie will be used in classrooms. Good news—used to compare storytelling differences between book and movie. Girls like the book. Bad news—boys sluggish to read the book, say first half of book is too slow.


Today’s crew

Tim Savage, director (Day job: director of media at New Hope Oahu)
Bob Bates, editor (Day job: restaurant manager at Uncle’s Fishmarket)
Dana Hankins, producer (Day job: independent producer/juggler)
Shawn Hiatt, director of photography/cameraman (Day job: cinematographer)
Kyler Sakamoto,  actor (character Tomi Nakaji)(Day job: high school student)
Kalama Epstein, actor (character Billy Davis) – (Day job: high school student)


11:30 a.m.

Phone call with producer of Behind the Scenes segment. Need to limit the approach to what we can achieve in 8 weeks. That means focus on writer, director, talent—leaving out important productionpartners of cameraman, editorial, stylist(s), me (producer)—to interest key 8-13 year-old audiences. Schedule talent interviews and remember to run them through quick interview prep for the upcoming screening Q&A sessions and the media interviews. Include short history lesson, so everyone remembers: WW II, Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, etc.



Ask author/screenwriter Graham “Sandy” Salisbury to revisit discussion of whether the movie version can benefit from a voice-over narration to bookend (the beginning and the end) of the movie. Discuss how the narration works in Stand By Me and what we would do differently.

Talk with team, including cameraman Shawn Hiatt, about a day of shooting on July 30. We need a couple small pick-ups of footage we missed getting or needs to be replaced in the edit.


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