About the Project

Filmmaker’s Statement

“Shaka, A Story of Aloha” started as a passing curiosity when a friend introduced me to Kupuna (elders) in La‘ie who had a story on the origin of the Shaka gesture. It turns out that these Kupuna kept the depths of the story secret for 3/4 of a century as they didn’t want it commercialized. But given advancing age and a world in need, they asked me to share their story.

So in May of 2019, we visited La’ie with a film crew to record test shots. The results were galvanizing. I wrote a story treatment and it sat on my desk for a year until a chance meeting with Kamehameha Schools prompted action. KS said it had to happen and they needed to be part of it. So they gave us first funding and cultural advisors to ensure that the story was well researched and culturally correct.

Once in production, multiple alternative gesture and word origin stories were revealed.  As documentarians, we see our job as one of fairly presenting all credible findings and letting audiences decide for themselves what theories they like best.

Produced by a Nonprofit with Volunteers

The film and subject matter are protected for the betterment of Hawai’i and its people by being produced through ID8, a Hawaii-based 501C3 nonprofit organization. Top-level producers/artists are unpaid and act only as volunteers who will never profit by participating in the production. These include Executive Producer Bryan Spicer (director/producer Hawaii-Five-O, Magnum PI), Grammy-nominated Music Director Henry Kapono and myself as producer/writer. Additional volunteers include Associate Producers Sean Morris, Jill Kuramoto, Ryan Ozawa, Rob Webb, Avian Ku, Minette Lew-McCabe. Volunteer Cultural Advisors include Robert “Lono” Ikuwe, Manu Boyd and Hailama Farden.

Utilizing Hawai’i Talent

The production team (paid wages) is built from local up and coming talents from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Academy of Creative Media Program.  These include native Hawaiian Director Alex Bocchieri, Cinematographer Kristle Backe and Assistant Editor Sara Brekke. Dozens of other local crew members are included in the production under this production team.

From to Education to General Release

Our initial goal was a 30-minute educational release for classrooms. But as explorations progressed, the depth of the story has driven a feature-length presentation. In the meantime, inquiring minds have driven demand that can only be met by a general release. Thus our goal is to interact with film festivals and distributors to ultimately gain releases whether in cinema, PBS, local TV stations and/or online streaming. The picture is scheduled for completion mid-2023 with first showings immediately following.

Aloha from Hawai’i to the World

In the end, we may never prove the actual origin story, but what seems clear in all accounts is that the Shaka originated in Hawai’i and is symbolic of the aloha spirit. As such, this film is relevant to a world in need of optimism, tolerance, inspiration, hope, cooperation and connectionWe’re therefore honored to be entrusted with this story and hope that you’ll join us to share aloha through the Shaka.

       ~ Steve Sue, producer/writer (last updated Jan 26, 2023)

Production Entity

“Shaka, A Story of Aloha” is produced by ID8, a Hawai’i 501C3 nonprofit organization. Our Mission: foster ideation and expression to create positive impacts.

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Project Shaka


Project Shaka

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