Willie Nelson: Wedding Singer

Photo by Aubrey Hord

“Groom” Eric Gilliom with his wedding band, Pat Simmons (from left), Henry Kapono, Mick Fleetwood, Willie K, Lenny Castellanos, Willie Nelson and Lopaka Colon

by Rick Chatenever 

It was Maui’s version of the “Shrek” finale, when all the characters, especially Donkey, take the stage to rock out on a golden oldie, strutting and mugging through their curtain calls.

Or maybe it was the ultimate, only-on-Maui backyard jam, where some friends stopped by to make some music – only these friends are more accustomed to playing concert halls and stadiums around the world, and hanging gold records on the wall.

It was essentially the final day of shooting “Get a Job,” the locally produced film comedy that’s been filming around the Valley Isle for the last month. Starring Maui musicians Willie K and Eric Gilliom in roles reminiscent of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, this was the climactic wedding scene.

Backing Eric and Willie as they rocked through Barefoot Natives anthem “Only Wanna Party,” the pick-up wedding band included the Wild Hawaiian Henry Kapono; the Doobie Brothers’ Pat Simmons; iconic rock drummer Mick Fleetwood; a guy who lives down the road named Willie Nelson; along with percussionist Lopaka Colon and Lenny Castellanos.

The movie features lots of well-known folks in Maui’s theater world, like Marsha Kelly and Vinnie Linares, in major supporting roles. It includes veteran island tech guys like Bill Pie and Tim Wolfe in key positions in the crew. Figures prominent and eccentric in the community show up in cameos.

The whole project is unique testament what can be accomplished with a little help from your friends.

Written and directed by Brian Kohne and produced by Stefan Schaefer – who also shows up in front of the cameras a snippy German cross-dresser – this was Maui’s “other movie,” like a stealth fighter nimbly flying under the paparazzi radar and Hollywood frenzy of Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It,” that was filming at the same time in Wailea.

With a budget that probably wouldn’t cover the catering costs of Sandler’s Hollywood production, this project is aiming for international film festivals and well as national distribution.

Local connections give “Get a Job” its heart and its soul.

According to actress Kelly, a longtime Maui theater producer, director and now teacher, this movie is the culmination – thus far – of careers that began as kids in the Baldwin High School theater program or Maui Youth Theater, which became the Maui Academy of Performing Arts.

“Everyone came together. It’s like three generations, or four,” she said during the wedding-scene filming. “I look at what local talent has the potential to be. Then with Willie Pat Mick Henry it’s crazy!”

Unlike the paparazzi feeding frenzy in Wailea in recent weeks, these superstars fall more under the category of friends and neighbors.

It’s impossible to tell them apart from the real people.

“I hope this leads to more acting, because this is my favorite part-time job, ever!” ventured Chelsea Hill, who’s making her big-screen debut stealing scenes under the stars.

Writer-director Kohne concurs.

“Who believed this was possible?” he said as he wrapped the wedding scene.

“This is not the end – it’s the beginning.”

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