By Pam Woolway
The Garden Island Newspaper
Last month, Wailua resident and film maker Nadya Wynd spent four days with an all-volunteer cast and crew filming the trailer for what she hopes becomes a block-buster family feature film, “Secret of the Crystal Skulls,” the premise of which is fictional adventure against the backdrop of Hawaiian culture and natural beauty.
“This is not a Kaua‘i documentary,” said the six-year Kaua‘i resident. “It’s a film that I hope portrays an authentic and respectful spirit along with my imagination to create a feature film with commercial and family elements.”
The “Secret of the Crystal Skulls” is a story built around the magic of a life-size crystal skull care-taken by menehunes for Hawaiian kahunas who consult the skull as an oracle. The movie is set in 12th century and present day Kaua‘i in the throes of a hurricane where the life of an ambitious archeologist on the hunt for the crystal skull intersects with two teenagers and the menehunes seeking to protect it. The “Secret of the Crystal Skulls” is a story that weaves mythology, teenage rights of passage and magic into an adventure story.
Dozens of Kaua‘i residents were involved — from KPAC participants in the high schools on spring break, to Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Puna Dawson, Pu‘u Wai Canoe Club, as well as theatre veterans, Poppy Shell and Fredan Alonso.
A far cry from Shell’s 16 years of work on the Kaua‘i stage, for the filming of this trailer she volunteered as wardrobe manager dressing and fitting costumes. “An incredible moment for me was while we were shooting the village scene,” she said. “You got a glimpse of the joyfulness of what Kaua‘i village life might have been like.”
Over the four full days weather was brisk while filming in Haena, Kapa‘a, Wailua and Anahola. “What was really fun though was re-creating the hurricane,” Shell said. “It took 10 of us to throw leaves and mud and shake trees. The kids had a blast.”
The story line came to Wynd in 1992 the first time she lived on Kaua‘i. “After Hurricane Iniki I read about hikers stuck on the Napali,” she said. “In 1993 I wrote a film treatment inspired by that.”
Two films and over a decade later Wynd had an experience that made her return to her original Iniki inspired plot line. On a trip to Glastonbury, England she had a chance meeting with the keeper of a genuine crystal skull. “I thought, this would be a great sub-plot with a crystal skull as part of the story,” she said.
She expanded the first concept to include the skull set in the 12th century with menehunes. Wanting to include attributes only found on Kaua‘i she developed a spiritual side to the story and set it against the backdrop of the Napali.
“There’s been movies made here but not about Kaua‘i,” she said. “Either movies are set here like Indiana Jones or Tropic Thunder as other places or Kaua‘i is shown as a tourist destination. I want to show the culture, the people and the landscape where Kaua‘i becomes a character. In “Secret of the Crystal Skulls” she’s a major star.”
The opportunity to bring a big budget film to be shot on Kaua‘i means money for the local economy and jobs for Kaua‘i residents. Wynd is seeking investors and a producer, but hopes to retain some leverage since her intent is to preserve Kaua‘i’s authenticity. Wynd received invaluable insight form the many parents on the set. “Hawaiian mothers were often my cultural consultants,” she said. “They’d correct me when a prop was misused or a scene staged incorrectly.”
Aulia Ventura, mother of two menehunes in the film, said there was a palpable feeling of unity and aloha on the set. Daughters Kehela, 7 and Makala, 5, never sighed a word of complaint on their long days of shooting. “The menehunes are very serious,” Ventura said. “They had to work on keeping a serious face.”
Seasoned actor, Kaua‘i High School senior, Toby Riggle was in awe of the whole film making experience. “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life,” said the Lihu‘e resident. “Now I watch movies differently — wondering what’s going on behind a scene.”
To learn more about the movie visit, secretofthecrystalskullsmovie.com
• Pam Woolway, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or firstname.lastname@example.org