How Creative Lab Hawai‘i is Opening Doors for Local Creatives

(Sponsored) Six fellows from its year-long immersive program participated in the 2017 American Film Market.
2017 American Film Market
photo: courtesy of american film market


Widely considered the largest domestic market in the film industry, the American Film Market hosts professionals from all over the world with the goal of fostering partnerships to create and produce film.


Creative Labs Hawai‘i was founded by the Hawai‘i State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Creative Industries Division as part of DBEDT’s HI Growth Initiative to cultivate opportunities for the state’s creative entrepreneurs, attract investors and increase export. Earlier this month, six 2017 fellows of Creative Labs Hawai‘i’s year-long immersive programs were selected to attend AFM’s annual conference in Santa Monica. Participants included:


Robert Barclay & Stacy Fukuhara, Writers, Hawai‘i: A husband/wife writing team, Robert is a novelist and local professor, while Stacy is an attorney with her own practice. They presented a legal dramedy television series titled HI Conflict, featuring a brilliant advocate of children who defies the system as she solves high-conflict family court cases in Hawai‘i, and Pasifika, a high-concept horror motion picture.


Robert A. Bates, Writer, Director and Producer, Hawai‘i: Based on a true story, Bates wrote and will direct and produce Firebrand. The film follows a Hawaiian family’s dramatic journey to remain together and escape a zealous sheriff, whose orders are to exile all lepers to a desolate colony on Moloka‘i during the 1890s.


Robert Joe, Writer and Director, South Korea: Robert Joe is a filmmaker and broadcaster (originally from Texas and currently based in Seoul) who has worked on award-winning projects for Discovery Channel, Bloomberg TV and Monocle Magazine. Joe’s project, Facepuncher, chronicles a desperate 20-year-old nobody who starts a service offering to punch clients’ enemies in the face for $100.


Brayden Yoder, Writer, Director and Producer, Hawai‘i, and Stephen F. Sotomayor, Producer, California: Yoder and Sotomayor, both U.S. military veterans, presented White Indians, a story of a trafficked Native American girl who leads a broken Army vet on a healing journey home. Written and to be directed by Yoder, produced by both partners under their Clearing Barrell Productions banner.


The fellows are also joined by 2014 fellow and writer/director/producer Brian Kohne of the award-winning motion picture Kuleana, which screened at this year’s Hawai‘i International Film Festival and is currently being showcased through TriCoast Worldwide.


“AFM attracts the decision makers responsible for generating some 90 percent of the world’s motion pictures,” says Michael Palmieri, executive director of Creative Lab Hawai‘i. With an estimated billion-plus dollars in film and distribution deals made at this year’s conference alone, Creative Labs Hawai‘i’s participation is a testament to both the caliber of creative local talent and the state’s commitment to providing them with opportunities to bring their works to a larger market.


For more information on Creative Labs Hawai‘i, visit For more information on American Film Market, visit