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PARADISE LOST: A Feature Length Documentary (How Corrupt Land Developers Took Over Maui County, and How To Take It Back)



From: Small Wonder Video Services & Maui Causes
Paradise Lost: How Corrupt Land Developers Took Over Maui County, and How To Take It Back
Contact: Sam Small 1880 Piiholo Rd, Makawao Hi, 96768
(808) 572-5603 land (973) 271-0788 cell

1: Project Description: Small Wonder Video Services proposes to produce, at minimum, a 60-minute video documentary that reveals the inner workings of corruption and exploitation in Maui’s real estate development process as a means to promote Voter Registration and revisions of our County Charter that will bring accountability and transparency to the entire county administration. In it’s fullest manifestation, this project would expand into the creation and management of a grassroots political movement dedicated to revolutionizing Maui’s county government..

2. What need does your project/program address? Maui County’s Charter is a deeply flawed constitutional document devoid of sufficient instructions to empower our County Council to do anything about the institutionalized corruption pervading the administration. Changes to our County Codes, which today include dozens of loopholes that give Department Directors inappropriate discretionary powers, can stop the current abuse and begin to redirect development away from exploitation of the people and the environment. Our goal is to rewrite the rules so that they instead support a thriving middle class, affordable housing, local food security, and environmental sustainability.

3. How does the project/program address those needs? Following journalistic protocols we will conduct a forensic analysis of public documents secured through the course of several recent, citizen-initiated lawsuits (Montana Beach, Oluwalu, Chris Salem’s, etc) to evidence the layers of administrative mechanisms and procedures (or lack thereof) that, for over 40 years and still to this day, facilitate exploitation. We will demonstrate how the corruption is being obscured and protected by the Corporation Counsel, how it’s all still being asserted today in new development proposals such as Lahainaluna, and how, through Charter Revision, we can fix this mess.

4. What has been accomplished on the project/program to date? Freedom of Information requests and recent litigations have revealed damning evidence of corruption by licensed professionals and administration officials. This evidence has been compiled and cross-referenced into several concise powerpoint presentations that will serve as the basis of our storytelling. Revisions to the County Charter have already been written that could be adopted by the County Council and offered to Maui voters in 2018.

5. What still needs to be done to bring this project to completion? We will conduct interviews with parties related to all these matters, film the physical locations of referenced projects, pull archive footage of public testimony through AKAKU, and edit together a narrative flow that supports a graphic presentation of the documents we have in hand. In some case, we may want to film dramatic reconstructions of key events or particular acts of malfeasance, or stage video ambushes (ala Michael Moore) to secure incriminating and entertaining footage of the guilty players.

6. What is the anticipated time frame for the project? Small Wonder will be able to complete this project within six to eight months of its funding.

7. List the principal players and their roles in supporting this project? Filmmaker and Political Activist Sam Small has tele-production experience dating back to 1975 and expertise in all the production processes required to complete this project and keep costs down. Sam intends to perform the major roles of producer, writer, director, cameraman, and editor. Sam has done all these tasks professionally for over 30 years for clients such as Prudential Financial, The New York Times, AT&T, Prudential and more.

In local politics Sam served as the Media Director and Media Agency for the successful “SHAKA Movement” campaign, winning the 2014 Maui County election. The contest pitted a purely grassroots initiative against a historic 12 million dollar election campaign waged by Monsanto and Dow, the most ever spent on a local ballot initiative in the history of the USA.

To help fuel the grassroots campaign Sam co-produced a crowdfunding campaign and co-founded SAFE (Shaka Action Fund for the Environment) a 501(c)4 Superpac. That PAC is now run by SHAKA board members and participated in the 2016 elections promoting the “‘Ohana Candidates”.

After SHAKA, to maintain a local, public issue-based media and educational presence, Sam created and became the Exec Dir. of Maui Causes, a crowd-funded media production initiative that champions environmental, not-for-profit and progressive causes on Maui.

Maui Causes has produced over 60 hour-long interview shows, airing weekly on Akaku Ch 55, Mondays and Sundays at 7PM, with guests including Council Members and candidates dedicated to environmental causes and a revolution in Maui’s County Governance.

Maui Causes has recently partnered with Kimokeo Kapahulehua to produce a bi-weekly interview show highlighting the many cultural programs (Hawaiian immersion schools, fish ponds, sailing canoes, etc) supported by the Not-for-profit Kimokeo Foundation.

In 2016 Sam Co-founded the Kuleana Coalition, a 501(c)4 Superpac, in order to afford local donors “Free Speech”, in the form of undisclosed contributions, in order to avoid economic and social retribution from the local power elite.

View these various projects at:
Small Wonder Video Services:
Maui Causes:
Vote Yes Maui:
No More Corruption Maui:

Chris Salem as a consultant. Chris began documenting the county’s shenanigans over 15 years ago when he worked professionally in the Maui County Planning Dept. He has a deep and detailed understanding of the conflicts of interest and layers of deception that have been perpetrated by a small group of developers and professionals working in and around the county administration. Salem will contribute and advise as story editor and consultant on the project.

8. Does your organization have a 501(c)(3) determination issued by the Internal Revenue Service and State Tax exemption status per Section 237-123, HRS? No, Small Wonder is not a tax-exempt organization, we are a simple “dba” not incorporated in Hawaii or any other state. It’s likely most appropriate to create a new LLC for the express purpose of producing and distributing this film. We will also need to be mindful of staying within the bounds of Hawaii State Election Rules and as the movement progresses may need to register a 501(c)(4), Super Pac.

9. Does your organization have General Liability and Officers and Directors Insurance?
No, Small Wonder does not at this time carry General Liability and Officers and Directors Insurance. However, insurance is a line item in our proposed budget.

10. What is the estimated cost of the project (including in-kind contributions)? See attached budget. The production budget for the documentary itself is currently $91,443 (See attached budget.) The budget currently includes $10,000 for insurance.

The budget includes $14,000 for camera and other production equipment. These charges are half of what the normal charges would be for such equipment usage so it is reasonable to ascribe an in-kind contribution to the project from Small Wonder Video Services of $14,000.

Additionally, my own fees as a producer, director, writer, cameraman, and editor are budgeted at 2/3rds of my normal, reasonable and customary billing rate which represents an additional $17,000 of in-kind contributions to the project.
Aside from the production budget, we will seek to raise and set aside an additional $10 to $15,000 for advertising and marketing of the documentary, most likely to be spent in making submissions to film festivals and on social media advertising to get the documentary seen by the public.

Additional funds as may be raised will be applied to expanding the scope and marketing
of the documentary and, if sufficient funds were available, say between $300,000 to $500,000 we could convert the entire initiative into building a grassroots political campaign to directly influence for the 2018 elections. Ideally, we would like to establish a Whistleblowers’ Fund to help protect and defend County employees who may be willing to come forward and reveal corruption and launch a new ballot initiative PAC to promote a citizen’s petition for a Charter Revision Ballot Initiative.

11. Are there existing or anticipated funding sources for the project?
It is reasonable that we launch a crowd-funding campaign on the Internet, but experience shows that solving corruption in Maui County’s Government is not a sexy topic. There’s a lot of competition for donor dollars on Maui. During the SHAKA Movement campaign, I co-authored an Indiegogo campaign that raised $76K, but that was an extraordinary time and a rare initiative that got public attention because the targets were GMO’s and Monsanto. Since then, it has been challenging to raise those kinds of funds for local initiatives. There are local not-for-profit organizations that are willing to accept donations on our project’s behalf so as to be tax-deductible.

12. Please include any additional information that you feel would be useful in evaluating your application. Community Support: We believe there is broad-based community support for this project. Many individuals have been deeply affected by this corruption, and the wave of community activism we started in 2014 has grown. We believe the public is aware that the majority members of the County Council are desperately trying to protect the status quo and that the advances we did make in electing progressive candidates in 2016 can be advanced in 2018.

Local Expertise: There are a variety of activists, watchdogs and Citizen Complainants who have the passion and the background to support this project with information in-hand and knowledge of where to go to get more. We have what it takes to build a grassroots organization around these issues and the candidates willing to take on the status quo in the 2018 election.

Many individuals have pressed for change in the past and for one reason or another have burnt out on the process. We intend to use the project as a rallying cry to re-engage the process of change and show that the time is finally right for success.

Distribution: Akaku and Olelo, Hawaii’s two public access television stations are both strongly inclined to air this documentary and have pledged to assist in getting it aired on Hawaii Public Television and distributed through the PEG system nationally. We’ve also included funds in the budget to rent local community meeting rooms and will advertise each event as part of our Voter Registration efforts in support of Charter Revision.

Production: We anticipate this project to be produced over the course of four to five months time and we will be able to start in on production after the first 1/4th of the production budget has been secured.

Tele-production shoot days are typically 10 hours long and there is usually no such thing as a half-day shoot. However, given the nature of scheduling on Maui we are planning for half days. This will allow the project budget to be much more productive than it otherwise would be.

We have planned for 30 ½ days of shooting and five weeks of editing and can have the project completed and airing in time to influence the November elections. Our budget includes some modest research fees allowing us to engage some of the local activists whose work in this area is well-deserving of our support. All of the equipment needed to shoot and edit this project is at hand already and we are well able to get the project coordinated and start shooting in a matter of weeks.

The budget is structured such that, if circumstances require, others may be hired to shoot and edit the film and I maintain a more supervisory role. Either way the budget is sufficient, and the equipment and expertise is at hand to deliver a professional and influential presentation that I believe will have a great beneficial impact on Maui’s community.

The overall budget may seem like a lot but is actually low for an hour documentary produced over more than six months time. Please review the attached document “Realistic Budgeting for Documentaries” by David L. Brown. It’s a great primer on producing a documentary and will help put the attached production budget into perspective. (Note that insurance protection alone, including libel, slander, etc., costs $10,000 and is necessary for TV broadcast.)

I’ve included here links to write-ups from Maui Causes, MauiTime Weekly and Maui Now:

Chris Salem is on a Mission to Clean up Corruption in Maui County Government

Wondering if the County of Maui Will Ever Clean Up the Mess Known as Deferral Agreements and Collect the Unpaid Debts Owed to Taxpayers

I’d be happy to speak to or meet with whoever is appropriate to discuss any aspect of this project and I look forward to your favorable response. Together we can make a difference!

Respectfully yours,
Sam Small
Small Wonder Video Services

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