Featured Participants

Josh Kim – DRAFT DAY/“How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)”

Josh Kim, a participant of Creative Lab 2013 Writers Accelerator, is a Korean American filmmaker currently based in South Korea. His CLH motion picture project “How to Win at Checkers [Every Time]” world premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015 and screened at over 25 international film festivals. It was also the official submission to the 2016 Academy Awards and Golden Globes for the country of Thailand.

The motion picture has garnered over 25 international awards, here are some of them:
Berlin International Film Festival 2015, Germany – World Premiere
Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature – LAAPFF 2015
Special Mention – Torino GLBT FF 2015
Best International First Feature – Toronto Inside Out LGBT FF 2015
Best International Feature – Filmout San Diego LGBT FF 2015
Audience Award – TLVFest 2015
Best Narrative Feature – Long Beach QFilm Festival 2015
Youth Jury Award for Best Film – Oslo/Fusion IFF 2015
Jury Award for Best Feature – Out on Film Atlanta LGBT FF 2015
Jury Award for Best Director (Josh Kim) – Out on Film Atlanta LGBT FF 2015
Audience Award for Best Film – Ljubljana LGBT FF 2015
Best Supporting Actor (Ingkarat Damrongsakkul) – Thai National Film Association
Awards 2016
Best Narrative Feature Award, Best Performance in a Lead Role (Ingkarat
Damrongsakkul) – KASHISH Mumbai International Queer FF 2016
Jury Award – Nara IFF 2016


Chris McKinney & Walter DodsTHE AINA, Age of Calamity

The most important thing that CLH taught me was how to actually move a project from conception to creation. It was one of the most enriching and lasting education experiences I’ve ever had.
– Chris McKinney

Chris McKinney was born in Honolulu and grew up in Kahaluu on the island of Oahu. He portrays the island experience from the inside, where children of mixed ethnicity grow up far from the clear water and pristine beaches of the rich visitors’ resorts.
Chris is the author of six novels, “The Tattoo,” “The Queen of Tears,” “Bolohead Row,” “Mililani Mauka,” and “Boi No Good,” and has written a feature film screenplay, “Paradise Broken” (nominated for best film at the Los Angeles Pacific Film Festival), and a short film, “The Back Door,” both of which premiered at the 2011 Hawaii International Film Festival. He also wrote “The Red Headed Hawaiian,” a memoir co-written with Dr. Rudolph Puana. His latest novel, “Yakudoshi: Age of Calamity” was released in September 2016. He and producer James Sereno (Kinetic Productions) are working on adapting this latest book into a limited series.
In 2011, Chris was appointed Visiting Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and in 2013, he participated in the Creative Lab Hawaii’s Writers Immersive and was one of three finalists awarded the opportunity to pitch his project in Los Angeles. Over the years, he has won one Elliot Cades Award and seven Kapalapala Pookela Awards. He also has fourteen years of teaching experience as an associate professor at Honolulu Community College.

Chris McKinney is a resident of Oahu. Walter Dods is a resident of the Island of Hawaii.


Jason K. Lau – “Hanalei Bay”

Born and raised in Hawai’i, Jason K. Lau is the founder and President of TalkStory Productions, LLC, (“TSP”) the award winning independent production company in the Hawaiian Islands. Mr. Lau is the product of Punahou School and the University of California, Los Angeles, and has worked in the financial industry for such companies as Dean Witter Reynolds and Bank of Hawai’i. He is currently the President of Honowaii Investment Company (an industrial loan company), the Managing Partner of Lau Enterprises (a Hawai’i investment partnership), and BJM Partners (a private equity fund). He has served on the board of directors of Hawai’i Angels, an angel investment group, Hawai’i Venture Capital Association (HVCA), the Honolulu Theater for Youth (HTY), and the Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF). He is also on the advisory board for the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawai’i and a member of the Producer’s Guild of America.

Jason K. Lau is CLH 2013 Writers Immersive Graduate. His feature film project “Hanalei Bay,” a Japanese-Hawaii co-production drama based on best-selling and award-winning writer Haruki Murakami’s short story, started production in 2017. The film is being co-produced with Geek Sight from Japan.

Jason Lau is a resident of Oahu.


Amy Bircher – “Victorian Christmas”

I am deeply grateful to the State of Hawaii, DBEDT/Creative Industries Division’s Creative Lab Hawaii program and the fellows in the 2017 Writers Immersive for providing support and empowering creativity. I treasure the advice, knowledge, and relationships gained. My participation in the program led to the opportunity to write, ‘Delivering Christmas,’ for Hybrid, LLC—a truly special experience as they have produced many of my favorite movies, including one which inspired me to become a screenwriter. A year ago, this was only a dream and Creative Lab Hawaii helped make it real.
-Amy Bircher

Amy Alohilani Bircher was born in Hawaii and raised on Hu’e Hu’e Ranch on the Big Island. As a young girl, her passion for reading evolved into a love for writing. After graduating from Hawaii Preparatory Academy, she attended Sonoma State University in California, where she earned a degree in Communication Studies. A longtime fan of the romance genre, Amy centers her scripts around meaningful stories of love, family, and friendship. After her acceptance into the State of Hawaii’s Creative Lab Hawaii Writers Immersive program, her spec script, “Victorian Christmas,” was optioned by a company that produces content for major television networks. Through the CLH network, Amy received the opportunity for a work-for-hire screenplay, “Delivering Christmas,” which debuted as a TV “mini movie” on Lifetime on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. She has since landed another work-for-hire project, an adaptation of a book due to be in production in February 2018.

Amy Bircher is a resident of the Island of Hawaii.


Tracy Davidson – “Tracy’s Map,” and “Tracy’s Map Treasure Hunt”

For 37 years Tracy practiced advertising and sales. Creating marketing material, negotiating offers, and sales contracts becoming a top producing agent, and receiving multiple awards for top producing agent. She was a real estate agent from the early 1990’s to 2017, and now holds an inactive license. In 2008 when the real-estate market crashed, she began thinking of ways to help local merchants keep their doors open by networking & driving business to each other. This is how she came up with the idea of “Tracy’s Map.” Helping merchants drive more people to their place of business.
Tracy’s very first publication was in June 2013 and since then has become one of the most widely distributed brochure and travel guide throughout the island and beyond. “Tracy’s Map,” a fun, simple, and easy to use, collectible souvenir keepsake that offers valuable information for newcomers and visitors, and how to get around the island. To create additional income and to bring more excitement and adventure to “Tracy’s Maps” Merchants, she came up with the idea to create a mobile game app called “Tracy’s Map Treasure Hunt.” To keep the people excited about returning back to the islands of Hawaii and its shops, and to purchase items and keepsakes for family, coworkers, and friends.
“Tracy’s Map” the app is available on iTunes and Google Play stores.

Tracy Davidson is a resident of Kauai.


Brian Kohne – “Kuleana”

Brian Kohne was raised in Hawai’i where he began making movies at Baldwin High school on Maui. He completed degrees in TV/Film and Art from San Jose State University, playing collegiate and also semi-pro soccer for many of the top clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brian worked in Silicon Valley as a Teacher, Contract Video Producer, in Sports Broadcasting, as Sales and Marketing Director, and as Senior User Interface Architect for an interactive television software company. He returned to the islands in 2005 to be part of the Hawai’i entertainment industry, as an active participant in the culture and community. He is Producer of the “Barefoot Natives,” the dynamic music duo comprised of Willie K and Eric Gilliom, and directed the pair in the award-winning comedy motion picture “Get a Job,” which also featured many of Hawaii’s favorite personalities. Kohne was honored as the “Filmmaker With Foresight” by Maui Time in 2010, as a “Person Who Made A Difference” by the Maui News in 2011. His entertainment company, HAWAI’I CINEMA INC., began a monthly film series in 2015, the Hawai’i Cinema Showcase, at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.

Brian Kohne is a resident of Maui.


Vilsoni Hereniko – “Fall Out”/”Until the Dolphin Flies”

Vilsoni Hereniko is a producer of plays and films as well as a writer and director. He was a producer of his first feature film titled “The Land has Eyes,” that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2004) and screened at more than thirty international and indigenous film festivals. It won Best Dramatic Feature at the Toronto Imaginenative Film and Media Arts Festival (2004), Best Overall Entry at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival (2005), and was also Fiji’s Official Entry to the 2005 Academy Awards. Last year (2015) he was a producer (as well as writer/director or co-director) of two short narrative films – “The Chief’s Speech” and “Salesi” – that screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
“Until the Dolphin Flies” is an adaptation of Robert Barclay’s (a 2017 Writers Immersive fellow) novel “Fall Out.

Vilsoni Hereniko is a resident of Oahu.