Kala - Molokai short film

Help fund a short film produced by filmmakers and actors from the island of Molokai.

In the Hawaiian worldview there are layers of meaning to every word, every action, every moment, and every thing. The word kala, for example, refers to both a fish as well as forgiveness.

Kala is the story of two estranged brothers who are brought together at the request of their dying father. When they reluctantly set out with a throw-net to catch a kala fish they endure mishaps, face unresolved feelings, revisit childhood memories and, ultimately, attempt to heal the deep hurt that drug addiction has brought to their family.

(See bottom of page for an excerpt from the script).

With a cast and crew from the island of Molokai, Kala is a unique Hawaiian story with universal human themes. It explores the complicated bonds of family, the destructive forces of substance abuse, and the powerful process of healing through forgiveness and love.

(Cast of Kala - Keoki Pescaia, Otto Joao, Sui Joao, Josh Pastrana)

Kala is a 20-minute film produced by Matt Yamashita and Mikiala Pescaia. The film is written and directed by Yamashita, an Emmy Award-winning Molokai filmmaker and fisherman. Pescaia, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and storyteller, also serves as 1st AD and production designer. Both Pescaia and Yamashita have worked together on numerous narrative and documentary film projects over the past 20 years including short and feature-length films that have seen national and international broadcast.

(Co-director/co-producer Matt Yamashita and Mikiala Pescaia)

The impetus for this film is layered. For one, the tight-knit community of Molokai wrestles with the deep impacts of substance abuse. There is a need to encourage open dialogue on the issue within families and community and there is no better way to do this than through inspired storytelling.

Molokai itself also represents one of the last truly Hawaiian communities where traditional subsistence hunting and gathering is still practiced by the majority of local residents. The art of throw-net fishing is passed down from generation to generation. Framing a story around this cultural practice celebrates the important connections between humans and nature that still exists on Molokai.

Our goal for this film is that it can become a catalyst for open discussions about drug addiction and healing. We also want to bring narrative filmmaking and performing arts to the forefront on Molokai as a powerful new way to share our unique stories.

Once completed, this 20-min film will be submitted to film festivals throughout Hawaii and around the world. It will also be screened across Molokai to inspire the arts and engage important conversation.

This is a grassroots project and we need funding to bring this story to life. All funds will be applied to the production and editing of this film as well as to help cover film festival costs. All cast and crew are working at greatly discounted rates and are taking valuable time away from regular work and family for this project.

Those who donate $100 or more will have their name listed in the credits.

Rough budget breakdown:
  • $8000 - pre-production/planning + 2.5 days of filming with 5 person crew & 4 actors
  • $5000 - editing, sound design, finishing, film festivals

We hope to film this project in June 2023. Your support will make that happen.

(opening scene)

Script Excerpt
(these are the first 2 pages of the 15-page script)


Two kala fish dart back and forth through the white wash of a shallow reef. Hands weave the eyes of a net. Two young boys, brothers, smile and play together as they follow their father along the shore, a thrownet slung over his shoulder. The smaller boy slips and the other immediately helps him up.

The rhythmic sound of waves breaking turns into the sound of strained breathing.


The long, strained breaths are heard outside a weathered old beach house that sits in a quaint bay.


An old Hawaiian man with long silver hair, DAD (75), opens his eyes in a sparse, dimly lit room. A shiny new thrownet hangs from the ceiling next to his bed. A nearby bench holds the tools of a netmaker.

Dad’s eyes search the room calmly as he emerges from his dream. Then a deep, terrible cough pulls him into the reality that he is deathly ill.

When the cough settles and he is able to regain his breath, he reaches over next to his bed and pulls the net into his hands. He examines it closely as he pulls sections of it across his fingers.

He clears his throat and musters his energy to call out.

“Kawika! Son!”

His son, KAWIKA (43), enters the doorway with a cup of coffee in hand. He is a handsome fellow, dark from years in the sun and lines on his face that tell stories of harder days. His eyes are tired, but he has a warm grin.

“Hey, Dad. How you feeling?”

Dad responds without missing a beat, but his witty response doesn’t come without losing his breath.

“Better than you look.”

Dad sneaks a smile to show he’s joking, then coughs as pain fills his face. Kawika half laughs and shakes his head at his father’s ability to find humor despite his suffering. He fixes his father's pillows and makes him comfortable.

“Yeah, we had a long night last night. The nurse coming back in a couple hours.”

Dad looks at Kawika for a beat, then nods. His eyes show that he knows just how much his son is doing to care for him in these final days.

He gestures for his son to come closer. Kawika sits on the bed at his dad’s side. Dad still has the piece of net in his hands. He pushes it out towards Kawika. Kawika looks at it, then at his dad. He’s confused.


“You finished it?”

Dad nods and pushes the net towards Kawika again, signaling him to take it. Kawika takes the section of net into his hands and nods admiringly.

“I ono for kala.”

Kawika looks at him for a second, then nods, understanding exactly what his dad is asking for.

“Ok, I go get for you.”

“Take your brother.”

There is a long pause. Kawika searches his dad’s face as he wrestles internally with this request.

“Aww, Dad, he not going like go with…”

Dad musters great strength as his once powerful hand grips onto Kawika’s forearm and he looks deep into his son’s eyes.

“All da pilikia, oki, pau! I need it to be pau.”

Kawika sighs heavily. He cannot deny his father’s wish.

Personal thoughts from writer and co-director Matt Yamashita:

I wrote the first draft of this script over 10 years ago and have been waiting for the right time to turn it into a film. Now is the time.

Through my non-profit volunteer work as a board member for the Molokai Community Health Center and Molokai Child Abuse Prevention Pathways, I have become very aware of behavioral health and substance abuse issues within our small community. So the story of Kala is an exploration of the impact of addiction within families and the pathway to healing.

As a fisherman who grew up throwing net on Molokai, I also wanted to tell a story that celebrated this practice. It is a style of fishing that requires you to spend countless hours quietly observing the ocean and learning it's many moods. It is very meditative. Often it is done with a close friend or family member which helps reinforce relationship bonds and the sharing of knowledge.

I have also spent many years working with Mikiala Pescaia and Josh Pastrana on countless film projects here on Molokai. We have long talked about the need to produce a meaningful fictional scripted film that is 100% about and by a Molokai cast and crew. Many of our filmmaker friends across the state have been pushing independent Hawaii-made scripted filmmaking to new levels and we feel it's time to have Molokai represented.

Kala is a film that we hope will speak directly to our community and others like it. It is a story about forgiveness and the healing of deep family bonds. It is also a celebration of our unique lifestyle and our reliance on nature and cultural practice as a source for both our sustenance as well as our well-being.

We aren't producing this film for a client or an organization. This is for all of us. And we want you to be a part of it and we need your support.

Mahalo Nui!

Donations (95)

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  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 8 hrs
  • Meg Fox
    • $25 
    • 11 d
  • Richard Fauteux
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Christine P Adachi
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Carla Dudoit
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
See all

Fundraising team (2)

Matt Yamashita
Raised $2,394 from 16 donations
Kaunakakai, HI
Mikiʻala Pescaia
Team member
Raised $50 from 1 donation
This team raised $8,570 from 78 other donations.

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