Categorized | Entertainment, Featured

Kona filmmakers’ feature in Big Island Film Festival

Richard Gonzalez, or Bullitt, looks on as Rockwood flips through a script. (Photo courtesy of GIFilms)

Richard Gonzalez, or Bullitt, looks on as Rockwood flips through a script. (Photo courtesy of GIFilms)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Bullitt is back!

Filmmaking duo Richard Gonzalez and Rockwood present the third in their series of movies featuring the bald and brash paranormal investigator. The feature-length movie has its world premiere at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 25 at The Fairmont Orchid, home of the Big Island Film Festival.

This time around, Bullitt is recruited by his police detective girlfriend to track down a missing warehouse worker who has stolen a crate of human remains from Romania. The remains are the King of the Vampires, who wants his Blood Ring back.

“Mainly, we want you to spend 90 minutes and enjoy that time,” Rockwood said.

“I want them to think ‘Wow, that was entertaining,’” Gonzalez said. “And it would be great if somebody said, ‘Hey, I want to be in the next one.’”

While the pair are eager to unveil the latest Bullitt movie, they are already kicking around ideas for their next project.

The duo rely almost completely on volunteer crew and cast, and the generosity of local businesses and residents for location shoots and props.

“People are getting to know us,” Gonzalez said. “This movie we had a much easier time getting things we needed.”

For example, Rockwood said, they once were scouting for an old vehicle they could crash and destroy. They asked around and thought they might have to settle for an abandoned vehicle when a local company offered up a full-size limousine they were about to scrap.

“We told them we wanted to drop if off a crane and they said no problem, it was already gutted,” Gonzalez said. “They even had an exact replica so we could film the new one driving around and crash the old one.”

“It didn’t work out exactly the way we planned,” Rockwood said. “It was supposed to just drop, but it rolled and bounced and ended up sideways. But it was awesome.”

The pair said they are grateful to everyone who contributes, from actors and crew and the community at large, to the county film commission office.

“They are great about getting us permits and everything we need,” Gonzalez said. “They even let us use their office as the police station, because it was just perfect.”

Rockwood, who grew up in Hollywood and has been making his own movies for more than 30 years, is something of a Big Island Film Festival veteran. This is his eighth film (and second feature) in six years, which is a remarkable record, considering the festival is only in its ninth year.

While Rockwood spends his days in his Kona tattoo shop, Gonzalez is right across the street, working as Hawaii Gas general manager. After hours, they are usually huddled over their latest script, plotting their next location shoot or editing the film.

The two had been making movies separately until 2011, when Gonzalez came across Rockwood on the Hawaii Actors Network website. Realizing they were neighbors, Gonzalez strolled over to Rockwood’s tattoo shop.

“We do everything together. We share all the responsibility,” Rockwood said. “It’s like a marriage. We make such a great team.”

“We do have different philosophies, but I’m not going to find someone who has the same passion and dedication,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez tends to be a little more methodical, thinking through scenes while they are script-writing and carefully writing letters to potential donors. Rockwood leans more toward blasting away on the keyboard and marching into a restaurant and directly asking if they can shoot in the kitchen.

“He goes with ‘don’t write anything you can’t shoot,’” Rockwood said. “But it’s not like one of us is the boss. We’re both adults.”

They do agree on one thing.

“First of all, we love to make movies. We’ve never had one day where we say ‘Ah, I don’t wanna do this today.’ We don’t care about money or fame and we don’t worry about fundraising,” Rockwood said. “I can’t say what’s most fun. Writing is creative and that’s fun. Casting is exciting. Filming is exciting.”

Occasionally, they run into critics, but that just bounces right off.

“Our biggest goal is to have fun doing it and then watching it,” Rockwood said. “You can say anything you want, but in the end we are the ones who are actually out there doing it.”

They also enjoy working with people in the community they might not otherwise meet.

“We really like the idea of a collaboration of filmmakers on the island,” Gonzalez said.

“We both get a kick out of finding local talent and putting them in front of the camera,” Rockwood said. “If Hollywood comes calling, that would be lovely. It would be great if they came to the Big Island and could use some of the people who we have found and used.”

While the Big Island has been the location for a handful of Hollywood movies, Rockwood and Gonzalez see it as more than just scenery.

“We’re not out to embarrass the Big Island. We make it a character and paint the Big Island in a positive light,” Gonzalez said. “We want people to come to the island.”

“What we think about the Kona is that it’s one big dysfunctional family,” Rockwood said, “but everyone has a place in it.”

The previous titles ‘Bullitt and the Legend of Captain Cook’s Gold’ and ‘Bullitt and the Mystery of the Devil’s Root’ are available online and also can be seen on Na Leo TV.

Rockwood and Gonzalez are always on the look out for new talent or people who might want to share their filmmaking knowledge.

To contact Rockwood and Gonzalez, email rmgonzo@gmail.com or visit www.GIFilms.com

For more information about the Big Island Film Festival, a complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets, call 883-0394 or visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com

Chef Sam Choy gets ready for a Bullitt scene. (Photo courtesy of GIFilms)

Chef Sam Choy gets ready for a Bullitt scene. (Photo courtesy of GIFilms)

One Response to “Kona filmmakers’ feature in Big Island Film Festival”

  1. Steve J. Gonzalez says:

    Great piece about my brother, Richie and his co-producer, Rockwood. Wishing them well on their newest film and future film projects.

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