Former UH volleyball star now working for 'Five-0'

September 25, 2011 • Entertainment

In a Sept. 17, 2011 photo, Torry Tukuafu holds a camera for [auth] the filming of an episode of “Hawaii Five-0″ inside Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Tukuafu, a former star University of Hawaii men’s volleyball player, now works on the set of the CBS crime drama as its only Steadicam operator. (AP Photo/Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Bruce Asato) MAGS OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

HONOLULU (AP) — A former star of the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team has found success off the court and behind the camera.

Torry Tukuafu returned to his former school in Honolulu during the UH Rainbow Wahine’s season-opening game Sept. 17. However, Tukuafu was there as a cameraman for the CBS television drama “Hawaii Five-0.”

Tukuafu, who was an all-conference hitter from 1999-2001, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( it was strange but wonderful to be back where he used to play.

“It was so weird,” Tukuafu said. “I was having flashbacks about being on the court. But it was wonderful. The energy of the crowd that night was amazing and so reminiscent of when I played.”

The show invited attendees to stay after the match to be extras for scenes for this season’s fifth episode. The combination of two big teams and a shot at mini-sized stardom drew a crowd of some 10,000.

Nearly everyone stayed an hour after Hawaii defeated 21st-ranked Pepperdine University to be part of the show.

Tukuafu, “Five-0’s” Steadicam operator and a former UH men’s volleyball player, was in the middle of it all.

Tukuafu grew up in Kahuku, moved to Utah in high school, then came back to attend University of Hawaii.

While playing professional beach volleyball in Los Angeles, he got a job as a stand-in for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the 2003 movie, “The Rundown.” It was then Tukuafu “fell in love” with working behind the camera. He studied the craft for three years and moved back to Hawaii. That led to work on the set of the ABC series “Lost.”

Now, he is the only Steadicam operator for “Five-0.”

“I specialize in Steadicam,” Tukuafu says. “A lot of guys can operate cameras, but not a lot can use the Steadicam because of its weight. It’s a lot like sports. You have to train.”

Tukuafu aspires ultimately to work in independent cinema. He produced “One Kine Day,” which won the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award last fall. Tukuafu said he works on “Hollywood productions” to make enough money so he can take time off and work on his independent films.

Tukuafu has also become a mentor and started a monthly short film competition six years ago.

“I’m fortunate to be part of a great, cohesive, independent local film community,” he said. “Lots of people doing cool projects.”

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