About the Project

Filmmaker’s Statement

“Shaka, A Story of Aloha” started as a passing curiosity. The turning point: a friend introduced me to Kupuna (elders) in La‘ie who knew the original Shaka Man. It turns out that the Kupuna had kept the story secret for almost a century. Why? They didn’t want it told incorrectly or commercialized. But given advancing age and a world in need, they decided it was time to share the story.

Indigenous Oral History from La’ie

In May 2019, our film crew first visited La’ie, Oahu to record oral history from the Kupuna who as young children, learned to fish and lessons of life from Hamana Kalili, the original Shaka Man. “Tutu Hamana” (aka “grandfather”) was an epic character. A Kupuna of Kupuna. Despite a debilitating injury, he became the very embodiment of wisdom, heroism and living aloha.

Something of Nothing

Tutu Hamana’s story illustrates how we are all part of a great lineage of sacrifice and giving. Through him, we learn that life was difficult in early Hawai’i. Resources were scarce. Work was hard. Living was dangerous. Yet despite these hardships, Hawaiians created a harmonious paradise from almost nothing for countless generations to enjoy.

A Multi-Cultural Story

While Tutu Hamana set the tone for the meaning behind the Shaka, the story twists and turns beyond his years. For half a century after his passing, cultures from around the world deepened the meaning and context on how to use the Shaka. In fact, the word “Shaka” is a Japanese word with roots with the first buddha in Japan called “Shakyamuni.” Thus, this project has become a quest to discover the melting pot story behind the Shaka. Decades later in the mid-1970s, the sport of surfing took it around the world.

Democratized Filmmaking

Like all quests, this story confronted us with unexpected twists and turns. A key turning point occurred in March, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered production. A few months later, we realized that film, tv, music and other artists were flatly out of work due to C19 shutdowns. Our response was to think it forward, Shaka-style, and find a go-for-it solution. The result: a new democratized approach to filmmaking where hundreds of Hawaii’s people on a remote basis, taking part in telling the story of the Shaka. This includes musicians creating compositions for the soundtrack, motion picture artists submitting content for cameo and montage sequences, motion graphics artists designing titles and animations, and graphic designers creating logo merchandise to help promote the film. Participants whose content is used in the film will receive end credits and crew SWAG.

Hawaii’s Story

We also realized during production that the Shaka is Hawaii’s story. It’s a State asset for all to enjoy and for all to participate in. We therefore have been vigilant to be inclusive all of Hawai‘i so if you have any ideas or concepts to contribute, please contact us.

Looking Forward to a Bright Future

Today, more than ever, the world needs the secrets to optimism, tolerance, resourcefulness, cooperation and living with alohaWe’re honored to be entrusted with this story and we’re in with both feet. We hope you too will dive into our growing Shaka Hui pool with an attitude of “Fear Not, Go for It!”

       ~ Steve Sue, Bizgenics, September 3, 2019, updated January 27, 2021

Production Entity

“Shaka, A Story of Aloha” is produced by Bizgenics, a Hawaii-based 501(C)(3) nonprofit specializing in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship programs to help underserved youth and others.

Our Mission: Empower all people to discover unique personal skills and learn positive social values to catalyze a bright future.


Henry Kapono, Music

Kumu Manu Boyd, Cultural Expert

Kumu Lono ’Ikuwa, Cultural Expert

Karen Brizendine, Animation Director

Deborah Miller, Editor

Bryson Chun, Associate Producer

Minette Lew-McCabe, Associate Producer

Timothy Caminos, Associate Producer

Alexander Bocchieri, Director

Bryan Spicer, Co-Executive Producer

Steve Sue, Producer, Exec Producer & Writer