Manō is a short, animated film illustrating the human impact on sharks and coral reefs, as seen through the eyes of a Tiger Shark in Hawaiian waters over hundreds of millions of years.
The film explores the effects of pollution, climate change, illegal commercial fishing, shark finning, and their devastating results, including the threat of shark extinction and coral reef bleaching. There is a strong cultural bond between sharks and Hawaiians, and the film provides insight on this relationship in which these animals are revered, loved as family, and in need of protection.
Sharks have existed for more than 400 million years. They predate dinosaurs by more than 200 million years, and they've survived all five mass extinctions. Yet today, 1/4 of all shark species are threatened with extinction. Why?
Because of us.
100 million sharks are killed by humans every year, primarily from shark finning and by-catch from commercial fishing. This equates to 11,417 sharks killed every hour.
Shark finning is banned in the US, but it’s still happening in our waters, and shark populations are declining in disturbing numbers each year. In November 2018, a dozen men were arrested at the Honolulu airport for trying to illegally smuggle nearly 1,000 shark fins out of Hawai'i. Sharks mature late and have low reproductive rates so they won’t be able to sustain their populations if this continues. As an apex predator, their role in the ecosystem is vital to keep the oceans balanced. Without them, the ecosystem will ultimately collapse, affecting everyone on the planet.
The ultimate goal for the film is to promote shark conservation in Hawaiian waters and around the world. Just like the movie Jaws inspired fear, the goal for the film is to inspire respect and care for sharks. Shark finning is banned in the US, but it’s still happening in our waters, and shark populations are declining in disturbing numbers each year. In November 2018, a dozen men were arrested at the Honolulu airport for trying to illegally smuggle nearly 1,000 shark fins out of Hawai'i. Sharks mature late and have low reproductive rates so they won’t be able to sustain their populations if this continues. As an apex predator, their role in the ecosystem is vital to keep the oceans balanced. Without them, the ecosystem will ultimately collapse, impacting everyone on the planet.
Writer, Co-Producer, Director & Animator
Brittany Biggs is an animation professional, filmmaker, artist, and educator. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Animation with the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Her animation feature film screen credits include DreamWorks’ Trolls, Kung Fu Panda 3, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Turbo. In addition to working as a Previs / Rough Layout artist and Animation Technical Assistant, she also has experience working within production management in the animation industry. Her independent, short animated films have been recognized in international film festivals including the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and her film, A Tall Tale, won Best Animated Short in the 2011 Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. In September 2020, she was selected as one of 102 fellows for the Unreal Fellowship in Virtual Production.
Jeff Chasin is the co-writer and co-producer of Manō, and he also contributed to the initial story concept. With over a decade of experience working on feature animated films, Jeff Chasin most recently served as the Production Manager on the Academy Award winning film Zootopia. His other feature film credits include Moana, The Croods, Monsters Vs Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, and Over the Hedge.
The Nakachi 'Ohana
Mike and Kaikea Nakachi from the Big Island are cultural practitioners, and they are descendants of Hawaiian kahu manō, or “shark keepers.” They are devoted to the study and preservation of sharks. Mike and Kaikea have been providing feedback and guidance relating to the story, manō 'aumakua, character designs, and visuals.
Hailiʻōpua and Christopher Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker
Hawaiian ʻOli and Mele Composers and Performers
Hailiʻōpua Baker and her son Christopher Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker are composing the original Hawaiian ʻoli (chant) and mele (songs) for the film. Hailiʻōpua Baker is an Associate Professor of Hawaiian theatre at UH Mānoa. She is the playwright and director of the Hawaiian language production ʻAuʻa ʻIa: Holding On, which was invited to be featured as the opening act at an off-Broadway festival in January 2020.
Christopher Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker was the voice of Maui in the ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi language version of Disney’s Moana. He will perform the original mele and ʻoli in Manō.
Dr. Kona Keala-Quinabo
Hawaiian Tattoo Designer
Dr. Kona Keala-Quinabo is a Hawaiian cultural practitioner of kākau uhi, or traditional Hawaiian tattoos. He designed the original tattoo for the generations of family members who share a connection with manō (sharks). The tattoo design resembles the side of a niuhi (tiger shark) when the character's arm is held parallel to the ground with the striped/bar design and the line of triangles chosen to resemble the stripes of the niuhi and its lateral line. The vertical bars of triangles represent different types of niho (teeth) to resemble a shark and the horizontal rows of triangles are called lei hala, which represent the passing of knowledge through the generations.
Jake Monaco and Brittany Dunton
Jake Monaco’s musical fingerprints can be found on some of the biggest film scores of the past decade. As a producer and composer of additional music for Christophe Beck, Monaco has contributed to the animated magic of Frozen, the record-breaking laughs of The Hangover trilogy, the furry hijinks of The Muppets, and the real-life drama of Waiting for Superman. As a versatile composer in his own right, Monaco has scored projects spanning murder mystery (Out to Kill), romantic drama (Kilimanjaro) and classroom comedy (Struck by Lightning). He also co-composed the music for President Obama’s re-election film, The Road We’ve Traveled, narrated by Tom Hanks.
Brittany Dunton is a media composer, pianist, music educator, and music theorist. Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Theory/Composition from Appalachian State University and her Master’s degree in Film Composition from Columbia College Chicago. Following her time at Columbia, Brittany worked with composers Mark Isham, Corey Jackson, Ramin Djawadi and is currently assisting Jake Monaco. She has been a part of projects such as the animated series Dinotrux, Be-Cool, Scooby-Doo!, and The Stinky and Dirty Show, the Oscar-winning animated short Piper, and the summer movie hits Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and Keeping Up with the Joneses.
3D Character Modeler
Brian Jefcoat is a Supervisor of Modeling at DreamWorks Animation. He has over 20 years experience in the animation industry, with credits including Lilo and Stitch, Brother Bear, Over the Hedge, American Dog, Bolt, Puss In Boots, Turbo, Boo, Boss Baby, and Dragons 3. Brian is responsible for the hero tiger shark, hammerhead shark, and Hawaiian freediver character models.
Dr. John HR Burns
Coral Biologist and Advisor
Dr. John HR Burns is a research scientist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo who studies coral health and disease. His expertise is included in the award-winning documentaries, Chasing Coral, Reefs at Risk, and Island Earth. He recently developed innovative techniques to create three-dimensional maps of coral reefs to accurately measure how natural and human-induced disturbances impact ecosystem function. He has been contributing his expertise of coral reefs and coral bleaching as well as his 3D photogrammetry coral reef models to Manō.
Gavin Arucan, Mia Clause, Aubrey Gamboa, Ross Turner
UH Mānoa ACM Student Animation Team
Gavin Arucan, Mia Clause, Aubrey Gamboa, and Ross Turner have assisted with visual development, asset creation (modeling, surfacing, rigging), and 2D matte painted elements.
FEEDBACK Animation Film & Screenplay Festival Official Selection
Good Pitch Local Hawai'i, Manō selected for inclusion in the Pacific region’s inaugural program.
From Fear to Fascination
While diving "Breath Taker" in the Bligh Waters of Fiji, my regulator broke. The mouth piece detached from my regulator, so either the cheap plastic zip tie holding them together broke or was missing.
My husband Jeff was filming a grey reef shark and unknowingly captured the moment my regulator broke immediately after it swam by.
When I surfaced, I realized I had cut myself on the coral from thrashing around to get my spare to work. Not once did I think of the shark, and it clearly didn't care about me. At this moment, my fear of sharks turned into fascination.