POSTED: 26 SEPTEMBER 2007 - 7:00am HST

"Tropical Thunder" invades Kauai

image above: Sri Lanka set for 1957 film David Lean's film "Bridge over the River Kwai".
Fifty years ago little care was shown for the environment. Now we should know better.

by Koa Kahili on 26 September 2007

We live in a material world, and Hollywood is the epitome of this. So when the entertainment juggernaut comes to Kauai, prepared to be bedazzled. “Tropic Blunder” continues to film on Kauai and desecrate the aina. Is this the price we pay for entertainment? The makers of “Tropic Blunder” have been caught red handed altering streams, their fine $500. “Tropic Blunder” is the biggest budget comedy ever, with a budget of over 200 million dollars, and they were only fined $500 for messing with the flow of water in our streams.

Water is life. We must respect this. When all the smoke and mirrors clears we the people of Kauai are left with the very short end of the stick. And what of our government, can they protect the people of Kauai from uneducated outside corporations abusing Kauai. The Department of Land and Natural Resources, (DLNR) has an obligation to protect our streams, yet over the past four months of filming no DLNR officer has been present on the set. Why? The DLNR was present in other hollywood epics, such as “Jurassic Park” and “6 Days, 7 Nights”.

Tropic Thunder productions is abusing and polluting the public waterways, a public trust resource that is the duty of the DLNR to protect. So when Terry Low the head of the DLNR on Kauai was asked why no officer has done an assessment of the situation, he replied the set was on private land and they had no jurisdiction. The problem should be handled by the Department of Health or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Did we not learn the lessons of the Kaloko dam with regard to the sate monitoring public steams.

Pass the buck, it the way of politicians. And the people are made to suffer. I thought that waterways were a public trust resource, and Hawaii's Supreme Court concurs. As was demonstrated with the Superferry, the state has blatant disregard for the courts decisions. Lets follow the food chain up to see who is controlling the shots. Terry Low’s boss is Laura Thielen, the director of the DLNR, and a very conservative republican who was appointed by our Republican Governor Linda Lingle. It is no secret that they put our public resources up to the highest bidder and that they see our streams as a resource to make a profit not as the source of life. And guess who owns the land that “Tropic Blunder” is filming on?
Steve Case, who just happens to donate large sums of money to Governor Linda Lingle’s campaign fund.

Our streams are being used a commodities, and what do we Kauaians get out of the deal? We get the privilege of paying to see a movie where we can watch our aina being destroyed and have a good laugh. The county is turning a blind eye for it’s hollywood, the best advertising money can buy, when millions of people see Kauai on the big screen they will want to visit our charming little island.

On a recent scene in the movie they exploded over 60,000 gallons of gas, and this is just the beginning, an entire village is set for demolition, think “Apocalypse Now” type of destruction. Toxic explosives and heavy metals can easily pollute the upper Waiahi stream, located near the base of Mt. Waialiali. All it takes in one big rain after the pyrotechnics to wash these toxins into the stream. Being so near the headwaters these contaminates can take over 25 years to reach the ocean and affect the drinking water for Koloa, Poipu, and Wailua. Is this the price we pay for hollywoods affections?

At the recent supperferry meeting I personally asked Laura Thielen to look into the matter. Nothing was done. I also asked Terry Low to please look into the matter. His response is that he was to busy with supperferry issues and that he is not going on Grove Farm land, end of discussion. So now its up to the people, demand action, protect our streams, protect our drinking water, water is life.

Koa Kahili
po box 998
Kilauea HI 96754

image above: in the finale of film the full-size bridge set was blown up witha real train on it.
All of the debris, including the steam engine and trainr cars dropped into swift flowing river.

Tropic Thunder Wraps This Week
24 September2007 in

Matthew McConaughey, who’s replaced Owen Wilson in the ensemble cast of Tropic Thunder now filming on Kauai, begins shooting his week of scenes today, according to Kauai production sources. McConaughey takes the role that Wilson had until he was hospitalized for an attempted suicide. It’s a non-credited cameo role.

Oops Dept.: The Tropic Thunder production was fined $200 by the state for building a temporary footbridge over a Kapaa stream without a permit. The temporary bridge was built in August to allow film crew to cross the stream. The bridge was removed two weeks later. Two other bridges built by the production did have the necessary permits and will be blown up as part of the filming this month…



POSTED: 7 AUGUST 2007 - 8:45am HST

"Tropical Thunder" may threaten Kauai

image above: Ben Stiller and Jack Black, two stars of "Tropical Thunder" being filmed on Kauai

This was posted 6 August 2007 in The Kaua'i MuseLetter

[Note from "the muse:" I am aware there are a number of people from the film crew are on this list; the following comments are from a participant on the MuseLetter; I decided to include this to raise awareness for you, and everyone. This island, although a sanctuary for healing and regeneration is not intended to be abused, misused, and plundered. Yet, the making of this film appears to be doing just that.

I wonder if the film ever received the blessings so often associated with the beginnings of new projects on the Aina. Somehow, I doubt it. Once again, I am not printing this as an attack, but to raise awareness of how the desire for a good film can sacrifice the sanctity of a sacred land. If I had any hope at all, it would be for people to think deeply about what they are doing, rub the glamour out of their eyes, and seek a space of reverence for this land.

HOLLYWOOD is a billion dollar industry; my question to you is this?? What are you giving back to this island, besides some pocket money for the extras; how are you making and providing for reparations for the apparent damage that you are causing.]

Tropical Blunder
Many people on Kauai are aware of the Hollywood movie "Tropic Thunder" now being filmed on Kauai. We have seen the star wagons driving around the traffic choked roads, even spotted movie stars, and yellow TT signs directing cars to the many filming locations around Kauai. Over 70 movies and TV shows have been filmed on Kauai since 1933. Yet there is a dark side to Hollywood's glamorous flirtation with Kauai. What is not known to the public is how this war movie "Tropic Blunder" is degrading the environment. The budget of this Hollywood monstrosity is over 160 million, and they are not sparing any expense in building a gigantic set next to the upper powerhouse near the base of Waialeale. And like any good war movie they are going to blow up the set for the grand finale. I am not sure how they are going to blow up and burn this massive set with out polluting the streams that surround them.

The set is literally surrounded by streams on three sides, with about 30 yards
from the structures to the steams. It is an absolutely beautiful setting. These remote mountain streams feed into the Wailua river and Waita reservoir in Koloa. Any contamination to these upper streams will affect a massive area of Kauai. "Tropic Blunder" has already turned a few acres of the upper Wailua area into a scorched war zone detonating large pyrotechnics and burning an entire grove of coconut palms. Further up the remote dirt road, another grove of coconut palms is tagged for removal.

I recently visited some of these remote sets and there appears to be no stopping
the Hollywood juggernaut. Giant earth moving machines were altering streams,
groves of bamboo were leveled, new roads were cut into the island's interior, massive structures were built without any permits, including bridges and a
multistory warehouse. These sets are located on Grove Farm land and hidden from the public, so I imagine the DLNR has no jurisdiction.

Even if the county knows about these blatant violations against the environment, they have been paid a large fee to allow Hollywood to have its way with Kauai. My question to the public is, Who is monitoring Hollywood's disrespect for the Aina? Are we so enamored with Hollywood that we are willing to sacrifice our land and dignity for a silly movie?

This latest Hollywood epic is a comedy, but the joke's really on us.