Screen Talk: Hawaii makes waves

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The Independent Culture

It's a serious business, show business. And lawmakers play a vital role, especially when it comes to creating tax breaks to allow movie production budgets to feel the love.

Certainly Hollywood loves Hawaii when it comes to shooting movies there. And the 50th state is closing in on legislation to raise movie production credits from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent on Oahu, the island where Honolulu is located, and from 20 per cent to a whopping 40 per cent in the rest of the state, aiming to make it the US movie-shoot state of choice. The proposed laws have attracted heavyweight backing from two men likely to bring big-buck business to the islands. Hollywood label Relativity Media headed by Ryan Kavanaugh and Steve Bing's Shangri-La biz empire have both backed the proposed breaks and are publicly lobbying for them. And Bradley Cooper, Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Sylvester Stallone and Ashley Tisdale also contributed to a six-minute video extolling the virtues of Hawaii as a place to locate shoots. A state legislative analysis says it will cost Hawaii $46.3 million in the next fiscal year. Kavanaugh said he expects it would bring in about $2 billion a year in business fairly quickly.

Harsh lesson

It can be hard when you become regarded by the Hollywood community as a reliable, successful star of the teen-queen flick. Which might be why Vanessa Hudgens (above left), a veteran of Disney's High School Musical movies and a member of Zack Snyder's ensemble fantasy Sucker Punch, is about to sign for a very different sort of pic. Hudgens is close to signing up for Gimme Shelter, an indie drama centring on a pregnant, homeless teen who flees her abusive mother and seeks out her biological father. More trouble lies ahead when, after initially taking her in, daddy throws her out when she refuses to have an abortion. Brendan Fraser is signed to play her dad. Ron Krauss has written and will direct the picture.

A treat in store

TV show runner Josh Schwartz is about to realise his dream. Schwartz is putting together casting for his big-screen directorial debut, Fun Size, a teen comedy set over Halloween-set about a sarcastic teen who takes her little brother trick-or-treating only to lose him on the rounds. Scripted by The Colbert Report's Max Werner and backed by Paramount, the project is talking to Jane Levy about taking on the role as the sharp-tongued bigger sister. Levy most recently appeared in Showtime's US version of UK show Shameless.

When naked ambition pays off

In the US, privately financed pictures are fairly commonplace. But often projects bankrolled in that way find themselves in the persuasion game with distributors to help find an audience. But one privately financed comedy set in the world of male strippers is unlikely to struggle to see the light of day despite it being a tricky sell. That's because Magic Mike is being directed by Steven Soderbergh and will star Channing Tatum (above right). Oh, and the story is based on Tatum's real-life experiences as a stripper when he was a 19-year-old in Tampa. Tatum is to star as Magic Mike, a man who schools a young dancer in the tricks of the trade.

Dancing queen

As a writer in Hollywood, a production green light on a movie you've penned makes life easier. Katie Wech, who wrote Disney's upcoming teen movie Prom, has been hired by the studio to write another teen movie. It may or may not be a sequel to her first Prom but it seems Disney is confident Wech has the chops to do another one before it sees any return on her first. Prom features a cast of relative unknowns and up-comers in its tale of a detail-obsessed prom committee leader caught off-guard when she unexpectedly falls for the school's bad boy, among several storylines.