‘Medicine Runner’ Being Filmed on Big Island

December 15, 2016, 12:11 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 5:10 PM
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Big Island Now stock photo. Dec. 2016.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and its attached agency, the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation, applauds the GVS Transmedia Accelerator Program on its announcement that private investors have funded one of their graduates, a feature film project.

Jo – The Medicine Runner is currently being shot, edited and produced entirely on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Launched in 2014, the GVS Transmedia Accelerator Program, Hawai‘i’s only film and creative media accelerator, is a public-private partnership between GVS, HSDC‘s HI Growth Initiative, the County of Hawai‘i and private investors.

The independent feature film wrapped principal photography in November after shooting in Kona.

The production, helmed by David L. Cunningham (To End All Wars) with producer Edwin Marshall (After.Life), is set in the Kona coffee belt in Hawai‘i’s segregated 1920’s plantation era.


Jo, a homeless orphan of mixed race, is taken in by a doctor and newcomer to town, played by Oscar-nominated Matt Dillon (Crash). Ryan Potter (Big Hero 6) plays Jo, who competes for the love of the plantation owner’s daughter against rival doctor Reyes played by Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest).


Jo – The Medicine Runner is the second project to reach production out of a slate of Hawai‘i-based feature films and TV projects coming out of the GVS Accelerator.

Earlier this year, comedy series Surf Break Hotel, set on Maui, raised funds from private investors to produce a pilot episode. Writer-director Stefan Schaefer teamed up with longtime friend Jonathan Stern, an Emmy-winning producer on the pilot.

“We are committed to helping Hawai‘i’s creative media startups achieve success in the commercial marketplace,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “Supporting entrepreneurs in the film and media industry is an important part of building a creative innovation sector that generates new job opportunities needed here in Hawai‘i.”


Projects incubated by GVS are put through a year-long program, beginning with an intensive six-month-long acceleration period. The balance of the year is used to raise the private capital needed to execute their projects.

To date, GVS has reviewed more than 200 applications in two years for 12 slots.

GVS was recently recognized for the third consecutive year as one of the nation’s leading innovators by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is led by Cunningham, who is based in Kona.

“Hawai‘i has the potential to be a thriving film hub,” said Cunningham. “It has 11 of the 13 climate zones for every type of look and growing local crews and facilities. This project has put to work dozens of local people, giving them opportunities to work on a Hollywood-level film in high-level production positions. We are thrilled that Jo demonstrates the viability of homegrown Hawai‘i filmmaking.”

United Talent Agency’s Independent division packaged the film and represents sales. The film’s casting director is Beverly Holloway. Christian Parkes wrote the original material, which Cunningham adapted for Hawai‘i.

The GVS Transmedia Accelerator Program, together with the state’s Creative Lab Hawaii Program, develops creative entrepreneurs and helps them launch their businesses. Combined with two broadband facilities outfitted with state-of-the-art multi-gigabit connectivity provided by GVS Connect, these programs help to create new possibilities for Hawai‘i as a strategic base for global film production.

HDSC President Karl Fooks explained, “The state’s HI Growth program supports accelerators, entrepreneurial events and investment funds—all critical pieces of a startup ecosystem that enables Hawai‘i entrepreneurs to be successful.”

IMDB reports that the film will be in theaters in 2017.

Rolling Stone is quoted as saying, “It may be the best film you see this year.”

ABOUT HSDC (Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation)
HSDC is a state agency, attached to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which promotes economic development and economic diversification in Hawai‘i through a return-driven investment program in partnership with private capital. HSDC runs the HI Growth Initiative, which is the state’s effort to catalyze and support an entrepreneurial, innovation-focused ecosystem. The program supports entrepreneurial development through events, venture accelerator programs and investment funds targeted at Hawai‘i companies.

ABOUT DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism)
DBEDT is Hawai‘i’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawai‘i economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawai‘i’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments and promotes innovation sector job growth.

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