Filmed in Tennessee, Hawaii and New York City, TREE SAFARI: The Koa Connection is a melds art, culture, light science and eco-travel, following Brad Sells from his studio in Cookeville, TN, to the volcanic slopes of Hawaii in a quest for koa wood, revered for its density, tone and color. The half-hour program traces the arc of the artist's process while exploring the traditions, culture and characters of those he meets along the way.
On the Big Island the team travels with Hawaiian Homelands Ranger Mike Robinson to the 33,000-acre Humuula Forest reserve on the high slopes of Mauna Kea volcano. Once, "cattle was king" in these mountains and the livestock decimated the koa forests. On a visit to furniture maker Tai Lake's 100-acre reserve on the Kona Coast we find a conservation plan that allows cattle and koa to co-exist a plan worth millions of dollars to craftsmen and cattlemen alike.
On the Kona Coast, Sells and assistant Steven Flatt meet Keoki Carter who shares microscopic images of native woods, pointing out the difficulty of "aging" trees in a region without seasons. At the Bishop Museum's in Honolulu, we meet Irving Jenkins, curator of the of Hawaii's royal dynasty calabash collection and Sol Apio who is trying to discover the lost secrets of these beautiful bowls.
Big Island conservationists from Kamehameha School take the team to the islands' most pristine forest reserve, granted to the people of Hawaii by the last descendent of the Hawaiian monarchy. In the traditional seaside refuge of Puuhonua O' Honaunau we meet Tava Taupu, who introduces us to the "burn and carve" art of the koa dugout canoe. On the last day of the journey the team salvages a massive piece of root wood from a historic but fallen monkeypod tree, the largest known tree of its kind in Hawaii.
With a heavy collection of fine woods, Sells and Flatt return to Bark Studios in Tennessee to complete the artistic process, with pneumatic chainsaws, heavy grinders to hand-rubbed finishes. Sells discusses his connection to the wood, how the swirl of the grain and health of the wood affects his process, and what the Hawaiian cultural experience brings to his work.
Months of work complete, Sells premiers his Hawaiian collection at the famed Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City. Amidst a beautiful montage of striking art, we hear from organizers of the event, from renowned designer Wendell Castle, and from event attendees trying to figure the process by which Sells' remarkable sculptures are created.
Music for TREE SAFARI: The Koa Connection
Directed, Written & Produced by: TODD JARRELL
Project Manager: BECKY MAGURA
Special Thanks to: Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Carl Owens, New England School of Communications, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Pu’uhonua O’ Honaunau National Park, Hawaii, Amy Greenwell Gardens, Hawaii, Keoua Canoe Club, Hawaii
Pond 5 / Madenglishman, Pond 5 / Nataq
Online Edit: DOUG BEAL
Offline Edit: TODD JARRELL
Postproduction House: ROCK CREATIVE IMAGES, INC., Nashville, TN
Narrated by: TODD JARRELL
Original Music by: LITTLE SARAH’S ORCHESTRA - Ethan Ballinger, Noel Bohannon, Patrick Mayberry, Tony Neely, Jacob Standifer, Wes Garner; CHARLES MICHAEL BROTMAN, SONNY LIM, Courtesy of Palm Records; GERRY EBERSBACH, Courtesy of Pacific Music Productions; JONATHAN TARLTON
Still Photography: DAN KELLERBY, JOHN LUCAS, STEVEN FLATT, Laurence Hata Collection, Bishop Museum, N.R. Farbman Collection, Bishop Museum, Hawaiian State Archives
Production Attorney: WILLIAM FORD
Production Accounting Services: COMPANION FINANCIAL GROUP, PC
This Program is Produced by: TODD JARRELL with WCTE-TV which are solely responsible
for its content
© 2006 WCTE-TV & Two Six, Inc.