About the Project
“Shaka, the Power of Aloha” started as a passing curiosity. Then a 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 their advancing age and a world in need, they decided it was time to share the story.
Oral History from La’ie
In May 2019, our film crew visited La’ie, Oahu to record oral history from Kupuna who as young children, learned to fish and lessons of life from Hamana Kalili, the original Shaka Man. Hamana was an epic character. A Kupuna of Kupuna. And despite a debilitating injury, he became the very embodiment of wisdom, heroism and living aloha.
Making Something Out of Nothing
Hamana’s story illustrates how we are all part of a great lineage of sacrifice and giving. Through him, we learned that life was very 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 Hamana set the tone for the meaning behind the Shaka, the story twists and turns beyond his years. For over 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 in the first buddha in Japan called “Shakyamuni.” Thus, this project has become a quest to discover the melting pot story behind the Shaka.
C19 Pandemic Births Democratized Filmmaking
Like all quests, this story has constantly confronted us with unexpected 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.
Looking Forward to a Bright Future
This journey has already revealed the power and application of the Shaka. And today more than ever, the world needs the secrets to resourcefulness, cooperation and living with aloha. We’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 pool with an attitude of “Fear Not, Go for It!”
~ Steve Sue, Bizgenics, September 3, 2019, updated January 27, 2021
“Shaka, the Power of Aloha” is produced by Bizgenics Foundation, 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, Producer
Valerie Wang, Producer
Timothy Caminos, Producer
Alexander Bocchieri, Director
Bryan Spicer, Co-Exec Producer
Steve Sue, Exec Producer & Writer