News Column

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Outtakes column

June 23, 2013


June 23--The searching never stops, and the realization of that can prompt Timmy Chinn to smile and shake his head. He could be driving through Honolulu, sitting at a restaurant or even staring at a storefront and every single time ask the very same question: How would this look on television?

Such is the life of the new locations manager for "Hawaii Five-0." And Chin loves every minute.

But he does need your help.

Chinn has already started a list of places that could end up on the fourth season of the popular crime drama -- and your home, business or ranch could be on that list, too.

"We need everything," said Chinn as he sat on a concrete bench outside his office at the Hawaii Film Studio near Diamond Head.

"Houses are always a big thing for us," he said. "We are always using houses. The whole range, from low income all the way up to beachfront homes. Houses in the jungle. We run the whole gamut."

The show has shot a lot in Manoa, including a one-block stretch of Oahu Avenue near East Manoa Road that can boast about 10 homes with guest-starring roles.

"Part of that is I live a block away and they are all my neighbors," Chinn said. "But that block, if you take the time, you'll see the look. Older homes and a variety of them."

That look is part of the show's philosophy, he said. The producers are seeking to capture a sense of place.

"There's nothing hard and fast except we want to show Hawaii and what's beautiful," Chinn said. "Sometimes we will want a remote shack. Sometimes we will want a millionaire's house. Sometimes it's a regular family house. But we want them all to show Hawaii."

Chinn has been with the show since the second season when he was hired as a key assistant in the locations department. This season he succeeds Jim Triplett as boss.

Chinn, 57, knows his Hawaii. He grew up in Nuuanu and went to Punahou before college on the mainland, where he earned a law degree he didn't use. He worked several years as a mechanic on exotic cars. In 2004 Chin wound up on Maui, and when the third sequel in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise arrived in Kaupo, he dived into the wide world of locations.

Before "Five-0" he worked on a variety of feature films that shot in Hawaii -- "Princess Kaiulani," "The Tempest," "The Descendants," "Soul Surfer" and "Battleship."

Chinn returned from the brief "Five-0" production hiatus earlier this month and set up shop in an old wooden bungalow at the state film studio. It literally puts him in the past and present for the show. The bungalow dates back to 1976 and the original version of the Jack Lord series.

"Five-0" had to leave its studio headquarters in the old Honolulu Advertiser building after the season ended, and wound up at the state film studio. Full production will start July 10.

The head start is important, Chinn said. By the time production starts, he hopes to have an inventory of locations for the early episodes.

One thing Chinn knows he needs even without knowing plots and episodes is the industrial look he found in the bowels of the Advertiser building.

"We need big basement spaces," he said. "Big old corridors with pipes and cables."

"Five-0" will, of course, pay for use of your home or building, but exactly how much, Chinn isn't allowed to say.

Above all, Chinn promises to be respectful of your property. Because he grew up here, he views your home as his home.

"I have to look out for these things," he said. "To make sure, in my own small way, that we treat the locations right."

If you think your home, office or building would provide a good backdrop for the stars of "Five-0," email Chinn at

AND that's a wrap ...

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. Read his Outtakes Online blog at Reach him at 529-4803 or email


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