The students in this film are braver - and more hopeful - than anyone I’ve ever met.

No Sophomore slump, I'd said.

The good thing about being an accidental filmmaker, particularly the first time around, is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Random things seem like happy accidents or coincidence, masking the realization of how perilously close you came to a disaster.

Hopefully, you learn from your mistakes, using experience to inform better choices the next time. If there is a next time.

As a novice filmmaker, it seemed like the best thing to do after the first film (“Ola - Health is Everything”) was be grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and move on. After all, filmmaking is brutal work and best left to the professionals.

The Universe, it seems, always has other plans. So when the opportunity arose to continue the story we began in Ola, it was an easy decision to continue this work.

Our focus this time would be on just one of the social factors that affect our health, and the choice was obvious: education is the linchpin upon which all other opportunity rests. It is a complex topic to discuss, particularly since I’ve had my own personal challenges with education in the past. I can still hear Mrs. Cheung from my sophomore year at Kailua High School telling me that just getting by with a ‘B’ was never going to be good enough.

Whether she knew it or not, that continued to inspire me for the rest of my life, spurring me to never accept something less than it could be. I tried to approach this second film in much the same way, always striving to get things just right because this time we knew better.

If Mrs. Cheung was my inspiration from the past, then without a doubt the people in ‘Ike are my inspiration for the future. I’ve learned so much from all of them, not just about how we can make education in our society better, but also about courage. It takes courage to have so much hope in the face of cynicism and everyone in this film - especially the students - are both braver, and more hopeful, than anyone I’ve ever met. I have nothing but love and admiration for them all.

Ola was a love letter to Hawai‘i and ‘Ike is a love letter to the future we can all create together. The fires of knowledge truly do burn everywhere, and they are the beacons of promise for our journey forward.

I’m grateful to my crew, who endured my obsessive push not to falter in our sophomore outing. Hopefully, our second film together is worthy of the legacy from the first and sufficient inspiration, perhaps, for someone to ask us to do this all over again.

 

MATTHEW NAGATO, DIRECTOR