Stephanie J. Castillo is an EMMY-winning documentary filmmaker and a former newspaper journalist who returned to Kaua'i in July 2019 after completing a seven- year film project in New York City. She is a Kaua'i native and Filipino-American.
While she was based in Honolulu for 30 years (1981-2010), she had a career as a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter and Maui correspondent. In 1989, she began producing and showcasing documentary films. She has made more than 10 award- winning documentaries made over the last 30 years. Her films have been social, cultural, biographical and explorations in history, featuring themes and subjects drawn from Hawai'i stories. Her filmography is below.
She attended Kauai Community College in 1980-81, graduated from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa in 1984 in Journalism. And returned to UH Manoa to do her Executive MBA in 1998. In 2010, she moved back to Kaua'i and in 2011, she taught a filmmaking course at KCC before deciding to make another documentary, which took her to New York City and Europe.
She has utilized community events, such as film premieres, film festivals screenings, Humanities forums, and community and academic screenings to provide opportunities for the public to engage in dialogue and discussions about film. Her abilities to generate interest in her projects included using her own skills in marketing and promotions. She had partnerships with organizations that assisted her filmmaking goals, such as the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities, the Hawai'i International Film Festival and the Garden Island Film Festival.
She is well-rounded as an independent filmmaker. She has managed sizable grants and has raised more than $2 million for her film projects over her 30-years of professional documentary filmmaking. Her EMMY Award was for SIMPLE COURAGE: AN HISTORICAL PORTRAIT FOR THE AGE OF AIDS, which was awarded a $200,000 Grant-In-Aid by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1991.
She heads Hawai'i-based 'Olena Productions and has partners in Washington D.C., New York City, and Europe.
Her current documentary is The Hanapepe Massacre Mystery 1924 ,now in development.
Among Stephanie's documentaries and co-productions:
2016 Night Bird Song: The Incandescent Life of Thomas Chapin. 96 mins. documentary, & 150 min. Director’s Cut. Director/Writer/Producer/Editor. Best Story award, Nice International Film Festival of World Cinema, 2016. Best Music Documentary, Asbury Park Music and Film festival, 2017. Available at ITunes, amazon.com.
2012 Grace and Beauty: 150 Years of the Episcopal Church in Hawai'i. Director/Writer. 40 min. documentary, non-profit. Available online at vimeo.com.
2008 Strange Land: My Mother’s War Bride Story. Producer/Director/Writer. 1 hour documentary aired on PBS Hawaii, 2009. Sold on amazon,com
2007 Remember the Boys. Producer/Director/Writer. 30 mins. documentary, aired on PBS Hawaii, 2010. The WWII story of Hawai'i teenage boys helping Gen. MacArthur retake the Philippines. Sold on amazon.com.
2006 An Uncommon Kindness: The Father Damien Story. Producer/Director/Writer. 1 hour documentary narrated by Robin Williams. Sold at amazon.com. netflix.com.
2000 Cockfighters: The Interviews. Producer/Director/Editor. 2003 release, 8-hr. documentary, an insider’s look. Sold at Amazon.com.
2002 An Untold Triumph: The Story of the 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment, US. Army. Co-Writer/Assoc. Producer. 1 hr. documentary. PBS National Airing 2003. Available at Center for Asian American Media,
2004 Opera! Director/Writer. 30 min. documentary for PBS Hawaii. What is opera? For non- opera lovers. Not for sale. Available by request only.
1992 Simple Courage: An Historical Portrait in the Age of AIDS, Producer/Director/ Writer. 1 hour documentary. 1993 EMMY Award. Co-Production with Hawaii Public Television. The story of Hawaii’s leprosy epidemic and Father Damien’s intervention, told for the age of Aids. Sold at Amazon.com.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT OTHER PAST WORK:
In the spring of 2020, Stephanie completed production on an educational video for the Koke'e Discovery Center on Kaua'i, A SHARE VISION...
Stephanie spent 2018-2019 editing a book of profiles of Filipino-American achievers in Hawai'i. HIYAS is in production for publication for 2020.
In September, 2012, Stephanie completed GRACE AND BEAUTY, a 40-minute documentary on the unique and intriguing history of the Episcopal Church in Hawai'i.
In February 2011, Stephanie was retained as a writer to work on a personal history project that took her to Thailand and Burma for research.
In 2010, Stephanie worked as a consultant to Kauai Girl Productions as an associate producer/writer/editor. She re-edited the documentary, MISS SOUTH PACIFIC, which continues to show at film festivals around the world.
In November 2009, PBS Hawaii hosted the broadcast premiere of her ninth documentary, STRANGE LAND. The hour-long documentary told the story of her mother, Norma Vega Castillo, a WWII war bride who left her Philippines to come to America with her soldier husband from Hawai'i.
In May 2009, she completed two years as a communications specialist for Consuelo Foundation, a Hawaii-based operating foundation, a nonprofit doing work among poor children, women and families in the Philippines and Hawai'i. She produced for the Foundation a 40-minute high-definition video that celebrated the Foundation's benefactress and the foundation 20 years of giving hope to women, children and families suffering from poverty and abuse.
Starting in in 2005, AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH: THE STORY OF THE 1ST AND 2ND FILIPINO INFANTRY REGIMENT, US ARMY aired on national PBS prime time for four years. She and three fellow filmmakers of Filipino American ancestry completed the one-hour documentary in 2002 after beginning work on it in 1995. It was narrated by actor Lou Diamond Phillips. All of the filmmakers had personal ties
In October 2010, Stephanie began work on creating flash websites for clients on the island of Kaua'i, Hawaii where she now lives.
She also serves as production consultant on a new documentary from Native Hawaiian filmmaker Meleanna Aluli Meyer. When completed, KU'U 'AINA ALOHA: MY BELOVED COUNTRY will tell the story of the overthrow and annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States and its aftermath from the point of view and perspective of Native Hawaiians.
Also in 2003, Stephanie received two community awards for her work on AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH -- a 2003 Pamana Arts Legacy Award presented to her by the Filipino Arts Exposition in San Francisco and a 2002 Progress Award presented by the United Filipino Council of Hawaii.
Stephanie continues to seek production funding for TREASURED ABOVE GOLD, a project conceived in 1994. It will tell the remarkable story of the historic connections between Korea and Japans ceramics through the story of abducted Korean potters and Korean teabowls used in Japanese tea ceremony.