Fishing for Memories

Preparations for Molokai High School 75th Anniversary DVD.

By Catherine Cluett

A lot happens in 75 years – too much to capture in a 60 minute film. But filmmaker Jim Bryan is volunteering to make it happen. To honor the 75th Anniversary of Molokai High School in 2014, he’ll be producing a DVD with the help of the community to preserve the highlights and honor a history that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s going to be a long process, he says, and organizers in the Molokai community are asking for your help.

“If you don’t fish for it, you’re never going to find it,’ says Bryan. And, he adds, the fishing needs to start now. They’re looking to hook three things: photos, film, and people’s stories.

He’s looking for photos in their original form. Photos from such publications like annuals don’t have as high a quality as the originals. Newspaper archives and community or school photographers are other examples of good sources for photos and other relevant history.

“Talk to anyone you know who had a movie camera,” advises Bryan. He can process old home movies in any form at his film lab, will transfer them to electronic form, and return the original (undamaged) version to its owner. “People rarely throw away things like film reels,” he says. “They’re usually just buried in a box somewhere.”

Bryan is also fishing for people who are willing to talk about their memories and experiences. “People are what make stories come alive,” he says. Most clips will be short – less than 30 seconds – so even if all you have is a few words, that is all it takes.

Bryan is hoping to get tidbits of information that he’ll bring together to tell the larger story. “Even what someone felt as they watched a parade float go by – that’s a captured memory.” Because the film will be only 60 minutes, Bryan plans to approach the project by decades.

He’s already done a similar film for the District 50 Hawaii Lion’s Club, which aired on local television, attracting over 250,000 viewers. Bryan says Molokai High’s video would probably have a similar appeal because it’s more than just a history of the High School – the documentary will tell the history of Molokai.

Bryan will set up several dates to visit Molokai in the coming months for short, informal interviews with those interested in sharing their recollections. He says he is also willing to visit kupuna in their homes if they are unable to travel.

“Think of yourselves as associate producers,” says Bryan of the information-gathering process. “There are people out there who would love to be a part of this if you give them the opportunity.” He encourages people to talk to their friends, classmates, ohana, and kupuna like grandparents about helping in the collaboration process, whether it’s sharing memories or digging in the garage for old photos and film. Since many alumni don’t still live on Molokai, it’s important to reach off-island and mainland alums, too. He hopes to have gathered enough information by January or February to start the filmmaking.

Volunteering his time and resources to the task, Bryan says he’s excited to be a part of the project. “There’s a real lack of this kind of history out there,” he explains. “A project like this can be a great unifier in a small community – there’s a feeling of pride when you see your past and the people you love come together before you.”

Below are the people to contact with information like photos, personal recollections, film, or relevant news archives.

Molokai contacts:
Allen Ashitomi, 553-5448, PO Box 175, Kaunakakai, HI 96748. Email:

Lloyd Yonemura, 553-5896, PO Box 1265, Kaunakakai, HI 96748. Email:

Mits Watanabe: (808) 553-5560, PO Box 177, Kaunakakai, HI 96748.

Oahu contact: Sheri Yamashita, (808) 265-4849, PO Box 482220, Kaunakakai, HI 96748. Email:


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