Local Spotlight: Hawaii Filmmaker Dane Neves

A Web Exclusive

A still from the last day of shooting for The Green Tie Affair.

Photo: Courtesy Dane Neves

With another season of the Hawaii International Film Festival over, the next big showcase we have to look forward to is the Big Island Film Festival May 11 through 15 at Mauna Lani Resort. The Green Tie Affair, created by local filmmaker Dane Neves, is a 2010 HIFF Best Local Short Film award winner and is one of only 63 films selected for the BIFF lineup. It tells the story of a puppet (voiced by Hawaii’s first American Idol contestant Jordan Segundo) who is suddenly thrown into an identity crisis when those around him begin to copy his look—and his signature green tie. Neves’s own style provided the inspiration.

A graduate of the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii and no stranger to local film festivals, Neves says that filmmaking has always been his dream. “I had a lot of practice making movies in high school and college.” His thesis film The Monkeyboy Fever was the winner of the VOD Viewer’s Choice Award at the 2007 Hawaii International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the 2008 Pacific Islands Film Festival.

While Monkeyboy contains an element of horror, Neves’s talent is not limited to one genre. “I wanted to delve into other genres,” says Neves, and, among his other films, The Green Tie Affair, a musical comedy, has allowed him to do just that. Neves describes his style as quirky and energetic, regardless of context. “There are very few dull moments in my films,” he says.

A second look through Neves’s filmography might leave you wondering, “What’s with all the puppets?” He explains, “A lot of movies today have sacrificed a certain amount of realism for special effects. Puppets offer that feeling of belief, of being able to reach out and touch the creatures, while still being whimsical.” Using puppets also allows him to reach a wider audience, including children.

Evidence of his passion for children’s films can also be found on the Green Tie soundtrack, for which he composed four original songs (performed by Jordan Segundo). “I studied the music of the films in the Disney canon like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King and went from there,” Neves adds. The central message perpetuated by these songs and other elements of the film appeals to people of all ages: Accept your identity and make yourself who you want to be.

Neves anticipates spending the rest of the year promoting The Green Tie Affair and his latest movie Giant Monsters Attack Hawaii, a children’s film featuring, you guessed it, puppets. Lucky for us, though, he doesn’t anticipate taking a break from the world of film any time soon. “I tend to get restless if I’m not working on something,” he says.

The Green Tie Affair premieres May 13, 7:30 p.m., bigislandfilmfestival.com.