Small Talk

Emmy-winning Hawaii filmmaker releases new music documentary

December 30th, 2015

Emmy-winning Hawaii filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo returns to Hawaii after four years to present a special sneak peek of her latest documentary, "Thomas Chapin, Night Bird Song," a music documentary. The sneak peek will feature a Q&A with Castillo and the showing of selected segments of her two hour and 30 minute film.

Stephanie J. Castillo. Courtesy: Stephanie J. Castillo

Stephanie J. Castillo. Courtesy: Stephanie J. Castillo

Her epic tale explores the life and music of the late jazz musician Thomas Chapin, a master alto sax and flute player who performed in both the traditional and avant garde worlds of jazz in New York City, Connecticut, and Europe in the 80’s and 90’s. "Thomas Chapin, Night Bird Song" draws an intimate portrait of this music explorer who pushed and transcended the boundaries of jazz and dissolved the distinctions between sound and music. Because of this moving and engrossing film, he will no longer be only a footnote in jazz. His indelible mark will be known and revealed to the world. Chapin left a music legacy that is still being discovered.

The Thomas Chapin Trio performed at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Theater on April 11, 1993. In this performance, the trio included bassist Mario Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin. The late James Delano of Lion Coffee was one of the event’s sponsors.

Chapin's ties to Hawaii also include his wife; he was married to New Yorker and Kauai native Terri Castillo, the filmmaker’s sister.

Chapin was nearing the pinnacle of his meteoric rise when leukemia took him in 1998 at the age of 40. He started his career as band manger and lead alto sax for big band leader Lionel Hampton, and then went on to form his own trio. Fame and world recognition elude him despite the enduring mark he left on jazz in the '80s and '90s, but his passionate life and incandescent music remain unforgettable to fans who knew him, and musicians who played with him. Today, his music is inspiring a new generation of artists and musicians who have discovered him.

The schedule is as follows:

Monday, January 4, 2016
7 p.m. Dinner Theater by Don Brown, Q and A session to follow
Please call Don Brown at (808) 436-4326 to find out where the venue is.

Friday, January 8, 2016
7-9:30 p.m. “God-led Filmmaking:” An Evening with Stephanie J. Castillo, including Q and A session
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 4364 Hardy St, Lihue
Free will offering
For more, call (808) 245-3796 or 647-4346

For more on the film, log onto

Castillo plans to finish the film in Hawaii. The Kauai native is working with local video and sound editors to put the final touches on her 10th documentary. Dean Sensui, executive director of Hawaii Productions Associates and Hawaii Goes Fishing fame, is handling the final edit. Gaylord Holomalia, studio manager of Island Sound Studios, will be orchestrating the sound design and stereo sound production.

Castillo was formerly a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter in the 1980’s, and became an Emmy-winning filmmaker with her first documentary, Simple Courage, which was co-produced with Hawaii Public Television.

She continues to seek funds needed to pay for rights and acquisition of the visual images, to acquire copyrighted music used in the film, and to launch her promotional efforts. To support the film, donations can be made by logging on to

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