The set of a popular TV Show Hawaii 5-0 is like the sets of all TV and film productions. At Universal Studios the 70s Jaws shark moves and looks like giant plastic toy. The buildings have believable facades but no interior. The magic is in the final product that’ll get magically projected onto your 60 inch HD LCD 3D television. It’ll look perfect. I’m prepared to see the charisma of the special police force: McGarrett, Danno, Chin-Ho, and Kono and not their human counterpart, Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. It all changes in an instant.
I wait at a parking lot of the old Honolulu Advertiser Newspaper that now has rows of Star Waggons, white box trucks, tons of gear, cars, and a security gate that has a small sign telling folks who to contact if you want to be an extra. I wait for some time and then a few minutes later, Daniel Dae Kim walks up. The pleasant security gate keeper jokingly says, “maybe he’s here to pick you up.” She was right and also surprised. I was labelled as a social networking journalist. We walked straight to the Daniel’s Star Waggon where he sat and worked on his lines to portray Detective Chin-Ho. The next shots are going to be difficult. Unlike the normal, shoot a scene then ready up for the next, he was prepping for a five scenes in a one set up segment – something that hasn’t been done before. It’s a time saving effort and a perfect moment for me to witness.
In the Star Waggon, Daniel mutters some lines, first reading, then staring into space while moving his lips. Mostly inaudible. He apologizing for his needing to do this. The interior is standard, there’s some Hawaii 5-0 mini posters, a back room with costume changes hanging, food that’s not his, and nothing much else to show that it’s his particular trailer.
While practicing, a knock happens and we’re walking to the set which depicts the middle of their squad room. The scene is Daniel talking to Office Lori Westen played by blond, Lauren German about a suspects ID and they talk to each other while staring at the screens. I sit in the Daniel Dae Kim “directors chair” behind the actual director and script supervisor and am given a headset to hear their lines. The set runs like a machine. The script supervisor watches every word and makes sure the dialogue are recited correctly. She’ll also cue the actors with the first few words to get them going. She signals with a karate chop like move to the director that the lines were done correctly at the end of a scene. Shots are done with multiple angles, some close ups of the principals in the scene. The reverse site shots are the easiest since there’s no dialogue being recorded.
Daniel Dae Kim like oranges, and Grace Park likes the smell of orange peel. Fans, now you know what to get them.
Television has such a fast moving pace that the director can’t scrutinize every moment of every word. There’s trust between the sound, multiple camera angles, and how the lines are delivered. Daniel answers, “the intonations can change per take.” He cites that it’s often his own discretion, and they’ll pick one of them. Even the hmmms, yeahs, and extra unscripted sounds that the actors make might get edited out, but are used to keep in rhythm of the scene. There are plenty of lines to memorize in a scene like this, and while some actors can memorize them after reading them once, the director cites Kiefer Sutherland as one who memorizes them instantly. Grace Park reveals that she works on them days early. Two days early is her technique for success. Then she goes over it again and again. Daniel Dae Kim who started off with a Law and Order Episode said that some of the old pros on that show read the lines right before the take for the first time, and fired them off perfectly.
Lauren German is a new face on the show this season and she’s opposite Daniel Dae Kim on the days shoot. They bounce through their lines forward and backwards, the cameras do a pan across shot and the actors need to know where their marks are to keep the continuity of the scene, especially when five scenes are being done at the same time. There are short breaks of 10 minutes or less in between some set ups where Daniel eats an orange and shares it with co-star Grace Park who’s outside of her personal AirStream. It’s a beacon of aluminum in a row of Star Waggons and some performers buy their own so they can have that feel of home. I wonder what’s inside, but they’re called back to the set a moment later.
After going through the scenes a few times, it’s a wrap nearly a couple of hours later. The moment it’s done the director grabs his backpack and looks ready to leave, perhaps to the next scene close by. That fast. A few words here and there, and Daniel is back at his trailer and needs to autograph some contest prizes for fans. He’s also needed to do some fittings. The clothes are off the rack items that get pinned down and perhaps tailored. He is able to choose what he likes to an extent. Some things need to be washed to have a better worn in feel and he’s assured they’ll try that.
Lauren German done for the day and ready for tomorrow shoot at the North Shore.
The following days shoots are going to be in the North Shore area, so parts of the crew are packing up while others are working on a car shot. Daniel’s next call time is at 6AM which is better than the 5AM he had to this day. Meanwhile, Lauren German is leaving so I ask her for a photo. It seems like she reluctant but Daniel assured her it’s all good. She looks as good here after a hellish shoot as she does anywhere else.
The islands have been gracious to Hawaii 5-0 and vice versa. The show is shown on the beach using a huge screen in Waikiki. On the Hawaiian Air flight from the mainland it was free to watch, although going back, it costs. The local destinations like Waiola Shave Ice is depicted in a fictional beach front spot served by ex-Sumo, ex-UFC, Taylor Wily (Teila Tuli) who’s the lovable “big guy” on the show. Leonard’s Malasadas, check, and the list goes on. The islands aren’t the largest, but there’s many of them with distinct cultures on each and surely as the show progresses, they’ll get to use everything. The original Hawaii 5-0 ran from 1968-1980. Magnum P.I. from 1980-1988. If Dog the Bounty Hunter can keep busting bail jumpers on the island for seven seasons, hopefully we’ll see Daniel and the crew for years.