We are working to establish connections with native Hawaiian stringers on the islands and will arrange a line up of genuine practitioners who are willing to share their stories. We are also contacting hobbyists, shell collectors and other people in the space to explore the greater community that shares a common passion.
We are arranging permissions with cultural institutes and specialists in Hawaiian & Polynesian history, oceanography, global warming and the broader jewelry industry. We plan to explore a broad range of topics including marine reef health, tourism, how shell jewelry is viewed in the broader industry, the origin of shell jewelry in the pacific and more.
As we get closer to filming we will choose a crew specialized in documentary filmmaking who are based on the islands. We hope to collaborate with local film students and other local talents. If you are interested or know anyone who is, send us an email!
Stephanie Bellasalma - Executive Producer
When she was a child Stephanie would travel to the island of Kaua’i with her family almost every summer. This is where she discovered the beautiful art of Ni’ihau shell lei making. Each year she would purchase jewelry from different artisans and learn different stringing techniques from them. She learned to respect the people, culture and craftsmanship which led to a lifelong passion for this art.
Due to her affinity for the jewelry arts and earth sciences she became a GIA Graduate Gemologist which is the highest certification one can receive in this field. Naturally she wanted to research and discover everything about these shells and practitioners but unfortunately there was little content available to the public. The Ni’ihau Shell Archive & this documentary project were born in order to preserve and promote the artists and art as well as to fill the public information gap that is greatly needed.
Outside of this project she is currently working to expand her vintage boutique pearl jewelry company Vintage Valuables
. The brand focuses on a curated collection of high quality mid-century Japanese pearls and is becoming one of the largest pearl companies online.
Alina Patra - Producer
Award winning actor, producer and indie film maker out of Los Angeles, California. Currently working on a feature length thriller titled Blood Brother she is excited to break into the documentary scene.
Her ability to organize and smoothly run micro budget projects will allow us to create the best possible film while operating with minimal funding. Her ingenuity, resourcefulness and contacts in the industry will allow us to bypass many of the challenges new filmmakers face.
Sky Makai - Cinematographer
Sky Makai is a Hilo based cinematographer and photographer that excels at capturing the natural beauty of the islands. An FAA licensed drone operator and natural talent he is excited to be working on his first feature documentary.
Ayumi Y. - Photographer
Owner of Ayumi Works
and a freelance photographer based in Honolulu, Hawai'i she loves capturing the best moments of everyone whether in a single portrait or couples being their most natural selves. Not only does she enjoy photography, she loves the editing part of this process creating the best in each photo.
What sets her apart is the time she put in the edits. Each photo is different and she believe they should all be edited with care. Shooting isn't something you do every day so she always keeps the shoot as comfortable as possible keeping it fun but relaxing at the same time.
Leina P - Model & Businesswomen
O'ahu based native Hawaiian model and face of our project. She often models for local brands and Hawaiian owned businesses. As a businesswomen she also owns her own island essentials and swimwear line Leikinis.
Caesar F. - Researcher
With a passion for American history and the arts Caesar is working as a bilingual teaching assistant while working toward his credential. In his free time he streams retro games on Twitch.
A thank you to our contributors and donors. If you would like to get involved with this project in any way just Contact Us