Music video puts Whidbey Island in film spotlight

— Created December 1, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

A music video shot on Whidbey Island by an emerging artist from Bothell is earning significant interest on YouTube, already racking up more than 212,000 views (as of press time) since its release just over a month ago. (

“Kadhaliye” is the first music video by Amal Manohar, a senior at the University of Washington. While it is not the first song he’s written, it is the first song he’s performed on since getting serious about music. Well, as serious as a college senior, who will graduate with a degree in applied computing with a minor in business, can be.

“Music is something I’m very passionate about,” said Amal, who began playing violin at the age of 8 and who started taking voice lessons over Zoom in 2020. He said he believes music will go hand-in-hand with his career.

“I see my education on one half, with music side by side,” he said. “Putting this together has motivated me to work harder. My goal is to take education and music together at the same time.”

Written in the Tamil language and aimed mainly at a south Indian audience, “Kadhaliye” translates as “beloved” in English. It’s an upbeat, light, love song – one that needed a specific setting, according to Amal’s father, Manohar Shanmugam, who was the cinematographer on the project – it’s his first music video as well. Watch the video and one will be drawn in not only by the music, but by the beauty of the setting. It showcases Amal, obviously, and while it’s a love song about a woman, the other star of the video is Whidbey Island. It was beautifully shot at Double Bluff Beach, a place Shanmugam said was the perfect setting.

“Whidbey is our quick getaway spot,” he said. “We moved to Washington in 2008 and every summer we drive to Whidbey. So Whidbey is not new to us, it’s a pretty beautiful place. For this song, which is all about a boy sharing his love to a girl, it is about happiness and energy. We needed an open area where we can see open blue sky and water. So Double Bluff was perfect.”

“It’s a classic love song. I wanted to create something retro, with an 80s, 90s feel,” said Amal. ” The mood we wanted to set was happy, joyful. We wanted to shoot the video at a place that wasn’t the city. Double Bluff gave a feel to the song I don’t think any other place would have.”

After settling on the location, Shanmugam began the process of getting the necessary permits and permissions required to film a project here. He turned to Whidbey and Camano Island Tourism’s film liaison, Sherrye Wyatt, and her team, who helped walk Shanmugam through the necessary steps. Wyatt said projects like the “Kadhaliye” video can help set the stage for bringing more film projects to Island County.

“Music videos are such a powerful art form because you are combining music and scenery to tell a story,” Wyatt said. “I love that this project is a family affair and is in Tamil rather than English, giving it international significance.”

In this instance, Whidbey Island promoted itself.

“In some cases, such as this one, those involved with the project have made good memories at a location and decide to bring their special project here,” said Wyatt. “Sometimes, there is a family connection that leads them to choose the islands, such as Macklamore when he filmed his music video “The Good Old Days” on Whidbey Island in 2017. Family connections also led the mysterious short film, “The Hour After Westerly,” starring Peter Jacobson and Shannyn Sossamon, to be filmed here in 2019.”

Wyatt, who started with Whidbey and Camano Island Tourism in 2010, said Island County did not have a film liaison then, even though scenes from several well known movies had already been filmed here, such as “Officer and a Gentleman,” “War of the Roses,” “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “Practical Magic” and the “Ring.” In 2012, Wyatt created the film liaison position and she was subsequently appointed to serve on the state’s film incentive commission, called Washington Filmworks.

“Serving in this new capacity has helped strengthen our understanding of how to work with the local community as well as film productions and has helped elevate Island County as a film friendly destination,” she said. “Over the past few years, we have seen an increased interest from location scouts and production companies. Recent commercial shoots, including catalogs, are Alaska Airlines, ASICS, Nissan, Nautica, Volkswagon, GM, Nordstrom, REI, and Nike, just to name a few. Episodes of HGTV’s “Island Life,” “Lottery Dream Home” and “Beach Hunters” have been filmed on both islands. Other TV episodes from “Z Nation,” “Shut up and Drive” and “The Jet Set” have also filmed here. There are others in the works.”

And don’t forget “Top Gun: Maverick,” which filmed some scenes at NAS Whidbey Island. It’s expected to be released for Memorial Day, 2022. These projects can bring a boost to Island County’s economy, through permitting fees, hotel stays, catering from local restaurants and even by hiring local crew members or actors, according to Wyatt.

“They spend a lot of money during filming,” she said. “In fact, the crew of the TV show “Z Nation” spent well over $30,000 during an intense few days of filming. Nearly 25 years later, “Practical Magic” continues to positively impact Whidbey, especially during the annual Haunting of Coupeville each October.”

 Scott Price, founder of the Price Sculpture Forest in Coupeville, which was recently featured on an episode of “The Jet Set,” has high praise for the job Wyatt and her team do for Island County tourism.

“The show’s hosts’ resulting enthusiasm for Whidbey destinations and their associated stories really shines through in a fun and extremely positive episode that will likely provide dividends for the local economy for quite a while,” Price said.

 “We now have visitors from around the world,” he continued. “That success is partly due to increasingly positive, organic word of mouth and partly due to increasing media exposure that includes the big successes Sherrye shepherds. When people come to visit the Sculpture Forest as a primary destination, a large, beneficial ripple effect occurs as the same visitors want to fill out the rest of their day. They then go to local businesses, restaurants, lodging and other destinations.”

Lovell Holder is the producer of the film “Midday Black, Midnight Blue,” which filmed on Whidbey Island earlier this year and is currently in post-production.

“From the moment we first expressed interest in shooting on Whidbey Island, Sherrye went above and beyond to guarantee that we were introduced to every possible connection who could potentially be a resource for our film,” he said. “Consequently, we met local restaurateurs who went on to provide our crew with delicious meals, local residents whose stunning properties became the on-screen homes of our characters, and local businesses who offered us invaluable services to make our film come to life. None of this would have been possible without Sherrye and her co-worker, Laura Hilton. I cannot imagine a better ambassador for Whidbey Island or a more passionate advocate for the community there.”

“Filmmaking is my life, and when you’re in a new city or state or country and away from home, it’s always wonderful to be working, but it can also be immensely lonely,” said Daniel Talbott, co-director and writer of “Midday Black, Midnight Blue.” “My sister Sam and I had never been to Whidbey, we didn’t really know many folks in the Pacific Northwest. Sherrye pulled up in her car with an orca whale hat for both of us, some great candles and some local tea, and suddenly we didn’t feel so lost or alone. Her kindness, hard work and professionalism gave us a road map and let us feel like locals for a bit. We could’ve never made our movie without her, Laura and Amy Lillard, and would’ve never wanted to. Sherrye’s a film warrior and the best.”

Wyatt believes filming in Island County will continue to grow, thus promoting economic activity and bringing visibility to the islands. But she said the state needs to become more competitive when it comes to luring film projects to the islands and to Washington state in general.

“Our biggest challenge continues to be the number of projects we lose to competing states and countries because our film incentive fund is just too small, even though we have the talent, the scenery and infrastructure,” she said. “It is simply maddening to see another hit like the new episodic series “Maid” filmed in Canada, when the story is actually set here. Our state’s film budget has to be increased if we are ever going to be competitive. We’re one of the lowest in the nation and not even in the same ballpark as Georgia or British Columbia. This is something we’ll be speaking with our legislators about in Olympia next year.”