On Location with HAWAII FIVE-0

Jim Triplett, Location Manager, Hawaii Five-0

When I recently chatted with Jim Triplett, Location Manager for Hawaii Five-0, I found that finding locations for the series is not all peaches ‘n cream – or pineapples ‘n spam – or well, you get the picture.

Life Is Not A Beach

One of the things I discovered was that you don’t always get what you want in the land of make believe.

Triplett told me about a snag he encountered prior to the shooting of episode 2.22 of Five-0, “Ua Hopu” (“Caught”), where he had to locate a luxury Hong Kong apartment where Wo Fat would be holed up.

(I was wondering how one would even begin to make Hawaii look like Hong Kong).

When he finally was able to find such a place, he ended up losing it, through no fault of his own.

Perfect for the Part

The apartment Triplett located for the episode was perfect.  It was luxurious, worth $4-6 million, and it had the brightly-lit skyline the producers sought for.

“It was a fabulous location.  We all loved it,” Triplett said.  “It was perfect for our needs, but it didn’t end up happening.”

Though the owner of the apartment gave his permission to use the location, the building’s Association refused, citing an ongoing legal battle on a construction issue.

A Backup Site

With only one or two days to spare before filming commenced on the episode, Triplett had to scramble to find an alternate location which, of course, he did.

Wo Fat’s luxurious Hong Kong apartment ended up being a luxury suite at the Trump International Hotel & Tower, Waikiki Beach.

A Job Never Done

First of all, “It’s always a struggle,” Triplett told me, to be creative and original with many of the scenes in the series, locations which have to double as other places.”

Triplett went through the same kind of experience on Lost, where in the six years the series was filmed on the islands, he was only twice able to reveal the place they shot as actually being in Hawaii.

The rest of the time, he had to “hide” the true identity of Lost island’s location.

Experience Is Key

Triplett has been working in Hawaii as a Location Manager for the past 20 years.

Films shot on the islands on which Triplett has worked include Pearl Harbor and The Descendants (in fact, he got the call to work on Five-0 a week after The Descendants wrapped).

Interestingly, he also worked on the 1997 Stephen J. Cannell Hawaii Five-0 pilot that never aired.  The project starred Russell Wong and Gary Busey (but not in the roles of “McGarrett” and “Danny”).

Hawaii Five-0 airs on Monday nights on CBS.


Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.