By Christine O’Connor
Published on December 23, 2015
A coming-of-age film that centers on the struggles of two orphaned brothers in Thailand, How To Win At Checkers (Every Time), has made the rounds on this year’s film festival circuit and has been amassing a number of awards along the way.
It marks filmmaker Josh Kim’s directorial debut – and also was the first motion picture produced as a result of creative entrepreneur accelerator Creative Lab Hawaii.
Kim developed the film as a part of an immersive program with Creative Lab Hawaii, a sort of support system for creative entrepreneurs – including screenwriters, new media content creators, producers, game and app developers, musicians and designers. And Kim’s isn’t the only success story to come our of the program, which launched in 2013. Already, other participants have found business partners to collaborate with, attracted producers for television pilots, and have produced polished feature film scripts.
Creative Lab Hawaii is a project of the state’s Creative Industries Division, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, with the goal “to support creative entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and export their content,” explains Creative Lab Hawaii executive director Michael Andres Palmieri.
“What we are looking to do is to be able to empower them with the latest coaching, the latest research, the latest business information and the latest aspects of the craft,” Palmieri says.
Creative Lab has three different components: weeklong immersive sessions geared toward different tracks; ideation workshops that help entrepreneurs develop early-stage projects; and public keynotes that offer panels and workshops featuring notable professionals in various creative industries.
Currently, Creative Lab is accepting applications for its 2016 immersive programs for writers and producers, both of which will take place in March at The Modern Honolulu.
Its Screenwriting Immersive (March 14-18) is for writers working on content for featuring films, television or Web, and will provide script coaching and guidance on marketing projects via multiple platforms. The Producing Immersive (March 21-25) will cover opportunities and skills required to produce content across mediums. Each session also is followed by a one-year coaching program to help participants utilize what they learned during the week.
Applications – which require submissions of previous work – are due Jan. 15.
It should be noted that Creative Lab is geared toward individuals who already have experience and are looking to strengthen their skills.
Creative Lab also seeks to bolster the community of creative industry professionals – on a local, national and international scale. The program is open not just to people in Hawaii; anybody from around the world can apply – an aspect Palmieri says only strengthens its impact. As he sees it, part of Creative Lab’s role is to “create a community so (entrepreneurs) can propel each other and work together.
“In creative communities, no one really pops by themselves – typically, people collaborate, people support one another, people hire each other, and it is through that level of community that the ecosystem thrives.”
Palmieri is a seasoned veteran of entertainment – he’s served as an executive at various production companies and studios. And he credits his mentors and teachers with helping him achieve success. It’s that type of experience that he hopes to extend to others through Creative Lab.
“Mentoring and teaching is an important part of the entertainment industry and the fashion industry and the music industry, and it’s one of my ways of giving back, and I am incredibly passionate about it,” he says. “Watching (Creative Lab participants) succeed is in and of itself a huge reward for me.”
Even throughout his Hollywood career, Palmieri always has had an affinity for the Islands – he first came to Hawaii on production for action film Six Days Seven Nights, and later was tapped to lead a screenwriting conference on Maui.
He feels Hawaii is ripe with stories to be told, offering new narratives and fresh perspectives.
“Personally,” he says, “I think that the culture in Hawaii is so rich and its history is so rich that there are a tong of stories about Hawaii that have yet to be told.”
In the next few years, he is excited to see what other stories will come out of Creative Lab.
For more information on the requirements to apply for Creative Lab Hawaii’s upcoming immersive programs and to request an application, visit creativelab.hawaii.gov.