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Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker recording Maui for Moana
Kaipu Baker voicing the character Maui

“WEEEEEHAAAAA!” exclaims Kaipu Baker, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa sophomore who voices the character Maui in the Hawaiian language version of Disney’s Moana. The movie, a collaboration of five UH programs, is spearheaded by the Academy for Creative Media System and is being recorded at the sound studio of Honolulu Community College’s Music and Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE) program.

“Just the level of technology and the professionalism that everybody held carrying throughout the project made it feel that we were making a very strong and concerted effort to really put forth the best project for our people,” says Baker, who is Native Hawaiian.

The star of the original film, Auliʻi Cravalho, is among those bringing the Hawaiian language version to life. At Honolulu CC, students and alumni are manning the sound boards as the vibrant movie plays on monitors in the darkened studio and the actors record their lines.

“This is an experience that is life changing,” says Daniel Gilad, a UH West Oʻahu creative media student and Honolulu CC audio engineering graduate. “Just seeing the production, seeing how producers from Disney approach things and the talent that was cast here, it’s just an unbelievable experience.”

Noah Cronin working on Moana

Honolulu CC audio engineering graduate Noah Cronin, who is working as one of the sound engineers on the production, notes, “A lot of people don’t know that this studio and music business classes are here and it’s on a level that’s as high if not higher than some other music facilities on the mainland and around the world.”

The premiere is slated for summer 2018, followed by the distribution of DVDs and Blu-ray discs to educational programs such as Native Hawaiian language immersion schools.

“We’re doing this for educational purposes and that’s always been our goal,” says Chris Lee, director of the Academy for Creative Media System and executive producer of the Hawaiian language film. “It’s educational all the way through from inception, to execution and then distribution.”

Baker adds that education is the basis of prosperity and helping Native Hawaiians to move forward.

“Be what our ancestors were, which was really smart, literate, amazing scholars in their own right, and we can apply that to virtually every field and every walk of life so I think the University of Hawaiʻi is a really critical base to achieving that.”

Hawaiian Language Moana Who’s Who

Aulii Cravalho, Puakea Nogelmeier, Tammy Hailiopua Baker and Aaron Sala working with the Moana script 

  • Chris Lee, founder and director of Academy for Creative Media (ACM) System, is the executive producer.
  • Rick Dempsey, SVP Creative, for Disney Character Voices International (DCVI), is overseeing the project for Disney along with DCVI Executive Director Bryan Monroe.
  • Heather Haunani Giugni, a Native Hawaiian filmmaker and cultural specialist for UH West Oʻahu’s ʻUluʻulu, Hawaiʻi’s Moving Image Archive, and Sharla Hanaoka, director of creative media at UH West Oʻahu, are producing and supervising UH West Oʻahu ACM students.
  • UH West Oʻahu ethnomusicologist Aaron Salā (above) serves as musical director.
  • UH Mānoa Director of the Institute of Hawaiian Language Research Puakea Nogelmeier (above) and his team translated the original script from English to Hawaiian.
  • UH Mānoa Theatre and Dance Kumu Tammy Hailiʻopua Baker (above) oversaw casting and is directing the dialogue.
  • Honolulu CC MELE recording faculty member Jon Ross is supervising the student recording engineers.
  • UH Mānoa ACM graduate Kaliko Maiʻi is associate producer.

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