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Flight 29 Down — An Interview With Executive Producer Rann Watamull

Rann and Gina Watumull knew there was a lot of talent where they lived in Hawaii so back in 2002, they co-founded Hawaii Film Partners. Together, with Discovery Kids and a stellar cast and crew, they brought the world into the world of “Flight 29 Down.”Starring Corbin Bleu, Hallee Hirsh, Johnny Pacar and Lauren Storm, “Flight 29 Down” is full of adventure and ingenuity as students on a school trip are stranded on a deserted island when their plane crashes in a storm. Personalities clash, physical endurance levels reach their limit, and friendships form as teenage plane crash survivors learn how to survive on an island – physically, mentally, and socially. The series delivers crisp cinematography, engaging characters, and realistic survival tips keeping viewers of all ages captivated and wanting to watch more.Rann Watumull, one of the Executive Producers for this series, gives us some background information on the series, demonstrating in part why it is so successful:CP: As a parent I really appreciated the way you took lessons the kids are learning, and putting it on their level (like the democratic process and relationships). What were your goals for the viewers beyond pure entertainment?RM: One of the goals for the show was in addition to providing great entertainment was also to provide a show that included valuable life lessons that the kids would teach themselves. That is why the scripts were written to include the video diaries so we could see what the kids were thinking and feeling and learning as the events unfolded. The writer took extra precautions to ensure that the lessons never came across as preachy or contrived. The kids figured out the right and wrong attitudes and behaviors in a way that seemed real and plausible and often funny. Humor is a great way to reach kids and we have lots of humor in the show.CP: What were some of the more difficult elements in making this series, and how did you overcome them?RM: Perhaps one of the most difficult elements in making the series was the fact that this show was filmed entirely on location, outside, exposed to the elements, without the benefit of a sound stage. When it rained, we got rained on. When it was windy, we had lots of extra noise. We even had a tree crash down on the set right near to us when we experienced near hurricane conditions. In order to work around the weather challenges, the entire cast and crew had to be flexible and creative. For example. We had one very rainy day. Due to scheduling, we could not postpone the shooting. So our writer/director D.J. MacHale rewrote the script at lunch, we copied the scripts, got them to the actors and the afternoon scenes were changed to take place inside the plane that day. We also had a severe storm and a flood hit the set. If you remember the tent scene from the second episode of the first season, that was actually shot in a tent under a tent due to the rain. We also used canopies and other covers to provide some shelter to the actors during filming.CP: Please give me an amusing/interesting anecdote from the filmmaking process that readers can relate to and make them feel like they have a connection and inside scoop to the film.RM: The airplane for which the show is named, was a real plane. I purchased it from a company that had it at the Honolulu International Airport in storage for 10 years. In order to get the plane to the beach, we had to drain all the fluid so it would pose no environmental threat. We then had to cut the wings and tail off in order to transport it to the beach at 2am in the morning so there would be no traffic. We then had to re-assemble the aircraft on the beach in the morning. We had several funny incidents as planes would circle overhead that first day, thinking a real plane had actually crashed on the beach. That old plane has lots of character and we all love it.CP: Why did you choose to have Lex’s father be a widower rather than a divorcee as in the book?RM: My guess would be that it was a little more dramatic for Lex to deal the having lost his mother and being stuck on the island.CP: Can fans expect to see a reunion episode of this cast in this series or was that really the end?RM: Who knows what might happen. I always thought that a reunion showing how the kids would relate to each other and the real world would be a great new show. We will just have to see how it goes.CP: Is there anything you would like to add?RM: Yes, Thank you so much for your interest in the show. You will be pleased to know that all the actors on the set were wonderful people. Everyone developed such close relationships that at the last shot, there were many tears shed by the cast. It was like a high school graduation. Poor Allen Alvarado (Lex) was crying so hard that he made some of our hardened union workers cry also, Allen had spent three years in row filming this show and knew he was going to miss the cast and crew. I am already missing seeing all their smiling faces on the set this year. The kids, including Corbin, were all such great actors and people. They welcomed many visitors to the set including school children, other families, press etc. They would all spend time with the visitors and made everyone feel welcome.Also, you may have heard that about 6 months ago Allen Alvarado and his father were struck by a hit and run car while crossing the street in Los Angeles. Allen was thrown 30 feet in the air and nearly died. He was in a coma for a short time. Thanks to the doctors and prayers, Allen has now made just about a complete recovery. We are so grateful that this amazing little boy is fine and doing great.

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