Tonight at Prince Waikiki’s Summer Flix, HIFF is showcasing two award-winning student short films from this year’s ‘Ōpio Fest, followed by a feature film, TURNING RED. HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest, which took place earlier this year from April 5-7, was HIFF’s inaugural youth film festival that featured community screenings, special guests, panels, networking sessions, as well as an awards ceremony.


CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, directed by Mid-Pacific Institute senior Cameryn Koike, won the Best ‘Ōpio Fest Student Film Award at the HIFF ‘Ōpio Student Showcase. This animated short film follows a family of cats struggling with finances who receive unexpected help after their Christmas lights burn out.


THE TEMPO OF SOLUTIDE: A MUSICAL EXPLORATION OF COMMUNITY AND HARMONY, directed by recent James Campbell High School graduate DeMarcus Koa Allen, won the 1st Place High School Award for the HIFFxDKII Future Filmmakers Showcase at the HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest. This short film follows a boy on a bittersweet journey as he discovers his passion for music, loses his way, and rediscovers himself by creating a crew with like-minded individuals.

Meet Cameryn Koike and DeMarcus Koa Allen, two student filmmakers behind these ‘Ōpio Fest award-winning shorts in this brief Q&A with HIFF intern, Sean Oketani:

Cameryn Koike


Congratulations on winning the Best ‘Ōpio Fest Student Film Award! Your film, CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, is beautifully animated. What inspired your animation style and what inspired you to create this film?

“The animation style I used in Christmas Lights is a combination of a multitude of television shows I’ve watched growing up. Shows like GRAVITY FALLS, THE OWL HOUSE, and HELLUVA BOSS have all inspired me and helped me to create my own animation style. Since I was young, before I could even read or write, I’ve loved drawing and storytelling. And animation is the perfect combination of the two.”

How was your experience producing this film? What were your roles and were there any obstacles, fun memories, or moments you would like to share?

“The production of this film was an experience like no other. I fulfilled every role, save for voice acting! Out of all my various roles on this production, being the voice director was honestly my favorite. I got the chance to work with so many of my talented friends and I even got the chance to cast a couple of my teachers! Recording voice lines was such a blast and now, with upcoming animations, it’s what I look forward to the most. Animating the entire six-minute film frame-by-frame proved to be a time-consuming process, but in the end, I think it was all worth it.”

How was your overall experience at ‘Ōpio Fest?

‘Opio Fest was incredible! From watching all of the incredible films that my friends and other students created to watching my own film on screen was surreal. It was so gratifying to see the response to my film from the audience and I knew that my hard work had paid off. The biggest surprise came at the end of the night when I was presented with the Best Student Film Award! I’m so grateful for such an incredible, supportive teacher and cast who made it all worth it.”

What advice can you give to young filmmakers?

“Have a clear vision of the story you want to tell. Know what you want and make it happen!”

DeMarcus Koa Allen


Congratulations on winning the 1st Place High School Division Award! Your film is very sensory-focused and immersive, emphasizing both music and visuals. What inspired this approach and what inspired this story?

“During school, I would spend most of my time making music with my friends. When I was looking for a topic for a film, this was almost a no-brainer. I felt a really deep and close connection with my friend group and thought it would be a great way to bring some light to it. In my opinion, being a musician is not really an ordinary profession, and not many people know what goes on in their minds. That is why I thought it would be an amazing idea to deep dive into the struggles and beauty of being a high school musician.

The film means a lot to me because the story is personal. I never really took the time to talk about my journey as a creative, so it was a big step outside of my comfort zone. I also included the friends I’ve made throughout my journey in the film and it really touched my heart to see the final product being successful. This was my first documentary-style video so it will for sure be one I will never forget.”

How was your experience producing this film? What were your roles and were there any obstacles, fun memories, or moments you would like to share?

“I had a very fun time creating this film. It gave me a chance to express my ideas and put them into action. I scripted, filmed, and edited the whole project, which gave me full creative freedom to execute my plans. I usually work in a group of around 3-6 people, so working alone was very different. I had much more responsibility and work than usual but I felt freer than ever. Coincidentally, I was filming a music video at the same time as creating this film, so I was able to incorporate some of the cool lighting and visuals into it. I think the biggest obstacle for me was just getting in front of the camera and talking. There were so many fun memories we made during filming. One that really stuck out to me was trying to record the interviews. Our club is very bright and unserious at times, so filming such an emotional video came with many bloopers and tears of laughter.”

How was your overall experience at ‘Ōpio Fest?

“My experience at Ōpio Fest was amazing. I loved seeing everyone’s films and enjoyed being surrounded by filmmakers all across the islands. The biggest highlight was seeing me and my friends’ films being played on the big movie theater screen. It felt unreal and will definitely be a memory I’ll cherish forever. Watching my film was a bit nerve-racking, there were many great short films that I thought were amazing and it makes me even more happy that I was able to compete with such talented individuals. Receiving the award was an honor. I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who supported me throughout the process and played a part in making me the person I am today.”

What advice can you give to young filmmakers?

“If I were to give any advice for young filmmakers I would say learn the fundamentals so that you can learn how to break them. When I was first starting out, I would do everything fundamentally right and it would give me good results, but there was never anything that stood out. As soon as I crossed that line I was able to express my creativity in ways that nobody else can but myself. We all carry our own unique ideas and the only person who can bring them to life is ourselves. Go within and find your calling through trial and error. Most importantly, have fun while doing everything. We often tend to get serious at times because of the pressure that comes with creating a film, but we have to always think back and remember why we started in the first place.”

Watch Cameryn and DeMarcus’ films this Wednesday at 7 PM at the Prince Waikiki. Both Cameryn and DeMarcus will be in attendance for an audience Q&A after their screenings.


Sean Oketani is a queer, mixed Asian-American and Native Hawaiian writer passionate about film and television that explores underrepresented, intersectional, and marginalized voices. Born and raised in Oahu, he is a recent graduate of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and currently interns for HIFF as a contributing writer to the HIFILM Blog.

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