We were honored to interview Uncle Cy Bridges this week. In true Shaka form, upon being asked to be interviewed, Uncle Cy exhibited great humility, noting that there were other more important people who could give a better story. We of course knew otherwise. And thankfully the other Kupuna not only talked to Uncle, but attended his interview to support both his story and the making of this film.
15 Minutes into 2 Hours
Upon arrival, Uncle Cy asked, “How long will this take?” My reply, “As long as you’ll give us.” So he suggested 15 minutes. Which I eagerly agreed to. Like most interviews, we started off with housekeeping items. Like his name, place of birth and how to spell keywords. Then we turned to the meaty parts by asking key questions (as a sidebar, huge mahalo to Associate Producer Bryson Chun for always working with me to assemble great key questions). Of course, once we started, Uncle Cy went into overdrive. The wealth of his knowledge, his expert chanting and his musicality all came rushing out. Like the other Kupuna, Uncle is a great storyteller. We could not have cast better characters if we had tried. Unique, lovable, quirky, bigger than life.
Uncle’s stories were epic and descriptions vivid. We had specific themes that we knew Uncle could speak to. But like any quest, we had amazing discoveries along the way. For example, Uncle Cy told us stories of playing in Lippy Espinda’s TV variety show band in the 60’s. His first-hand accounts of Lippy taking the Shaka to TV and how he did it were fascinating. Uncle also confirmed the Japanese meaning of the word “Shaka”, performed some chants (he’s known as an expert chanter) and gave us family lineage history, ripping names 5x longer than humuhumunukunukuapua‘a (Hawaii’s state fish). 2 hours later, we wrapped with smiles on everyone’s faces. Now THAT was epic. The other Kupuna (Anuty Kela, Uncle Harold and Uncle Baldy) sat through the entire interview, then had a great session afterward talking story.
Aunty Kela had noted the interview prior, that the ancestors are happy with this project. Before that shoot, for months the weather had bee rainy and windy but on the day of shoot, the winds calmed and the clouds parted. Then the wind and rain came back. And several day later for this shoot, the wind and rain left again, so hopefully the ancestors are still happy with us.
Aunty also noted that this project is important the town of La‘ie as the birthplace of the Shaka. The Kupuna all wish future generations to learn to good teachings of Tutu Hamana and to know where it all came from. Even in the island of Oahu, 90% of residents don’t know the story of the Shaka and that it was created here. So we’ll do all we can to tell the story in its entirety and in an entirely authentic fashion. That’s our pledge to you Aunty Kela!