After nearly 30 years of traveling through the Himalayas and finding his true meaning of happiness, Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti also found his second Emmy Award nomination.
"When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan," a film edited and produced on Maui, was nominated for the best Historical/Cultural-Program/Special on Wednesday at the 42nd Northern California Area Emmy Awards in San Francisco.
"It's always a wonderful feeling," said the Waiehu resident during a phone call Saturday. "It's especially unique when you're evaluated by your peers, so it makes it special when they honor you at that level."
Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti (right) and music producer Paul Horn pose for a photo in Bhutan. After capturing an Emmy for their film “BHUTAN: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness” (2007), the duo reunited for “When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan” (2011) and have received their second Emmy Award nomination.
Photo courtesy of Tom Vendetti
Tom Vendetti (right) and Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay pose for a photo in Nepal in 1983. Norgay was one of the first individuals known to reach the summit of Mount Everest, along with Edmund Hillary. Both make appearances in Vendetti’s film “When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan” (2011).
Photo courtesy Tom Vendetti
The hourlong documentary, released in November 2011, chronicles Vendetti's journey from the early 1980s to the late 2000s and includes interviews with influential figures such as the Dalai Lama and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.
"What truly made it different was that I was the subject," Vendetti said. "For me, I've been a licensed psychologist for 22 years and I've always been interested in what is happiness."
Primarily working as a mental health professional at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Vendetti spent his free time compiling the movie with co-producer and fellow Maui resident Robert Stone.
"To go through all that footage was quite enlightening in the process," Vendetti said of the film, which includes footage from his Emmy Award-winning documentary "BHUTAN: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness" (2007).
"The end result is that (happiness) really comes from within. 'When the Mountain Calls,' is a metaphor for that and what is really important in life.
"Living in our world today, trying to keep up with the materialistic world and news, gets us really stressed out. When I traveled to the Himalayas, it provided a beautiful environment and quiet place to get in touch with what is really important in life, which is family - but it's different for everyone."
Stone has worked with Vendetti for about 15 years as a cameraman and producer on several of his films. The Pukalani resident has more than 35 years of film and video production experience, including voice work for local 30-second television spots and commercials.
"The challenge was how do you take all this footage and weave it into a larger story about his 30 years of traveling," Stone said during a phone call Friday. "That's why Tom was really instrumental in helping us find the connection."
Co-narrated by associate producer Ann Mortifee, the film was originally going to be told by Vendetti.
"But then he said, 'I don't want to hear my voice,' " Stone said. "Tom asked if I could speak his voice and tell his story. We had two narrators tell their part, and that's what I feel made it sort of interesting. It was also interesting to hear my voice for 56 minutes."
After reviewing movies for about 35 years, Rick Chatenever, a contributor to The Maui News and former editor of Maui Scene, made his scriptwriting debut with the film.
"I had covered Tom's films for many years in my capacity at The Maui News," he said. "He came to me at The Maui News and was telling me about this project and I told him, 'Hey tell me when you get that film made because I'd look forward to writing about it.' He said, 'No you're actually going to be writing it.' "
Dubbing the film "Tom Vendetti's Greatest Hits," Chatenever said that they created the film backward by taking the footage and materials and creating continuity within the story.
"I created a window in which I had the video and then I created a text box next to that, so I was looking at the video and writing the text on screen," Chatenever said during a phone call Friday. "I had some sense of where (the narration) would play, but that was a brand new experience for me because I was just making it up as a I went along.
"So getting an award nomination is mind-blowing to me. It's really exciting."
Hana resident and performer Kris Kristofferson and former Maui resident Blaise Noto also contributed to the film. The music is provided by Christopher Hedge and two-time Grammy Award-winning composer Paul Horn, who both worked with Vendetti on his previous award-winning film.
"We've become quite a team, and without them we wouldn't have been nominated for an Emmy," Vendetti said. "They bring all those images to life."
The Maui-based team is not finished yet, though, as it is actively working on another documentary film - and this time it is a little closer to home.
The film, "The Quietest Place on Earth," takes place in Haleakala Crater and is inspired by sound engineering reports that Vendetti read about while flying to Oahu.
"When I first saw the article, I thought, 'Where could this place possibly be,' " he said. "And when I continued reading I was like, 'Wow it's right in my backyard.' I was thinking it was in some faraway country . . . but then I realized it's around you all the time."
Filming for his latest adventure has already begun, with the script and music nearly complete. Interviews and locational shooting have also started to ramp up, Vendetti said.
Notable contributors to the new film include Clifford Naeole, the cultural adviser for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, who is serving as an adviser for the film, and Gary Greenberg, who is a leading microscopic photographer.
"We're trying to get at essences of things, rather than have a talking head presenting facts," Chatenever said. "It's about finding an internal place of peace and quiet."
Vendetti said that film is in the production stage and will take months to complete but hopes to release it by next year.
"The advantage is that it's here on Maui, so I don't have to travel across the world to the Himalayas to get the shots that I need," he said. "So that makes it really nice."
The Emmy Awards ceremony will be held June 15 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
For more information on the film, visit www.whenthemountaincalls.com.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.