GENRE: Action Drama.
STATUS: In distribution. Closing Costs is available for viewing on YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy, the Roku TV channel All Hawaii TV, and has been uploaded to the online movie distribution company, Filmhub, where it has been picked up by the online movie platforms, Tubi, TCL, Xumo, The Timeless Network, Mometu, Nuclear Home Video, Stash TV on YouTube, and Popsy on Plex. It also played on the online Lift-Off Global Network 2020 Sydney Film Festival, and 2020 Melbourne Film Festival (see official selection laurels below).*
*Note: Lift-Off’s Film Festivals, like all other film festivals, are usually screened in the host city with attendees who watch all the films as well as attend pre and post festival activities. Due to the pandemic of 2020 these festivals were screened solely online.
Closing Costs was subsequently also accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival, the 2023 Berlin Lift-Off Global Network Online Film Festival, the 2023 Manchester Lift-Off Global Network Online Film Festival, the 2023 Austin Lift-Off Global Network Online Film Festival, the 2023 Tokyo Lift-Off Global Network Online Film Festival, and the 2023 Toronto Lift-Off Global Network Online Film Festival.
LOGLINE: A woman discovers that the organs of patients who die in a hospital are being harvested by a mortuary before the bodies are cremated for the hospital president to sell on the black market.
IMDb: Closing Costs
The origins for producing Closing Costs begins at a SAG-AFTRA casting workshop in 2017, where actresses Lisa Glenn (see inset picture) and Ana Jimenez McMillan are in attendance, and during a break start to talk and get to know each other. Ana tells Lisa of her experience of serving as Executive Producer of (and starring in) two movies filmed with Yellow Brick Studio – the completed and in distribution Natural Reaction and the still in post-production World Buffet – and this garners an interest on the part of Lisa, who harbors a desire to star in her own movie. Seeing Lisa’s interest in the matter, Ana recommends that she meet with Eric Nemoto (who along with YBS partner Jon Brekke, produced Natural Reaction, and who subsequently directed World Buffet) by attending his weekly “Just Act” acting gym held on Saturdays at the theater he founded, TAG – The Actors’ Group, in the Brad Powell Theatre in Honolulu. In fact, Lisa showed up in class on a Saturday in June 2017 – during a session in which filmmaker Larry Cortez (who worked with Eric to shoot World Buffet, and had also shot a subsequent YBS movie, Before The After, at the time) was in attendance shooting actors’ scenes – and participated in scene study with other actors who were present. After class the three of them. Lisa, Eric, and Larry, met and came to an agreement in principle for financing, and correspondingly developing, a movie in which Lisa, a tall, statuesque Asian-American woman with a great look and a Japanese accent, would play the lead.
A production contract was finalized in the first week of July, and in the ensuing weeks, Eric and Lisa met periodically and Lisa conveyed to him her ideas for what possibly could be a script. A realtor by profession, Lisa conveyed a host of experiences she had encountered in her career in real estate and spoke of her desire that a movie be produced which basically told of this. She produced a list of around 15 events she experienced over the years, most of which depicted comedic situations (e.g. “looky loo’s” who drop by open houses who will never buy, an old codger married to a young babe who only wanted her to take them around the island, a client who falls down, etc.). As a side note, Lisa also talked of her having to also balance her work life with the caring for her mother when she was in the hospital; an experience she did not hold in high regard for she felt the care her mother received was far from being exemplary. Still, what Eric took away from these meetings was a sense that Lisa wanted a movie that depicted her comedic adventures in real estate and so approximately a month later, on August 8, 2017, the first draft of “Another Shitty Day In Paradise,” was written (a brief write up appears in an inset shot); a slapstick, riotous comedy that featured Lisa’s character taking four other characters – her mother, an older man and his young pregnant wife, and Ernie, her assistant – on an around the island tour of homes she’s selling.
Of course, as would become the occasional occurrence between executive producer Lisa and writer/producer/director Eric, an apparent misunderstanding of intentions was discovered. The “comedy” that Eric thought Lisa wanted did not hit home with her, at least not the version he came up with. Instead, Lisa conveyed she wanted a different story and through ensuing talks it appeared to Eric that more and more of Lisa’s desire for a story revolved around some of her unhappy experiences with the care her mother received while at the hospital she was in. Hence, armed with the sense of another series of talks, Eric set out to write an entirely different story, with the understanding that, unlike with the first draft, the eventual script would not come with the usual promise of a 30-day deadline (the usual writing time frame once a development contract is signed). What was now being talked about was not a mere revision but a total rewrite. Lisa understood this and thereby patiently let Eric write at a slower speed. Of course what then intervened was the pre-scheduled shoot to get in scenes from another YBS movie in development, Lisa Patterson and the feature The Landline Detective which were shot back to back during late August through early September. In rewriting the script, Eric found the going difficult and given such he knew not to force it. The challenge was how to meld a story that involved real estate, a hospital, the negligent care of a mother, around a lead actress that would play a heroine fighting against all the odds (the recipe for an interesting movie, so Eric believed) for which there would also be hints of humor. What ensued was about three months of periodic writing by Eric (known to be the fastest of writers, admittedly he felt the soul of this new script was very difficult to find) that eventually culminated on Christmas day 2017 with the action drama, Closing Costs, which subsequently received Lisa’s approval.
The Trailer For The Movie As Edited by Mark J. Bush
Closing Costs opens with a shot of urban Honolulu at night and the voice of our heroine, Yuka Ooshima, saying, “I would rather die.” Yuka is a statuesque and independent Asian American woman with a strong Japanese accent who is on the phone spurning the advances of John Bridges, the president of Lyon Hospital, who is our story’s villain, the arch nemesis of Yuka.
Yuka hates Lyon Hospital for a number of reasons. For one, her mother died while under the care of Lyon and she believes the hospital staff were negligent in their care of her. For another, she knows John is a wretched human being. He preys on beautiful young women who happen to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expenses to Lyon, and arranges so that they pay their debts by sleeping with him, threatening to take them to court and take everything they own if they refuse. Yuka remains the sole “debtor” to refuse John’s advances and is threatening him with a class action law suit for which she cannot find any other of the women who are John’s victims to join in with her. She vows to bring John down. But John merely scoffs at what he feels are Yuka’s idle threats. Looking into the stars at night, Yuka sadly speaks in Japanese to her mother, who she still grieves over.
But times are changing. A new CEO of Lyon Hospital, a woman who will be John’s new boss, has arrived from the mainland on this same night and we learn that John has some concerns about her since she has already alerted him that she wants to meet and go over certain “irregularities” that she’s discovered. In line with this, we find John’s hired thug, Gordon Lansing, a dirty tricks operator, watching the arrival of the new CEO, Dorothy Chandler, as she is escorted into a condominium building by one of Lyon Hospital’s board of directors, Darcy Nuego. John calls Gordon to tell him of his displeasure for both Dorothy and Yuka, and Gordon subsequently calls another of John’s associates, mortician Arestes Jackson of Lightway Mortuary, to comment on John’s overt hatred for the two women and how “… this might throw a gorilla wrench into the whole operation.” Arestes responds in angry frustration, saying John has brought everything on himself because, “… he simply can’t keep his pecker in his pants!”
In a bar downtown we meet Garrett Reveno. He watches a young quarreling couple enter and visibly display that they’re not having the best night of their life. The man, Ryan, leaves for the restroom while his girlfriend, Sherry, takes a seat at the bar. Garrett moves in and buys Sherry a drink and starts to hit on her. As his overtures become more crude, and in fact outright lewd, Ryan returns and decks Garrett, which manages to transform Sherry’s disdain into desire. They leave arm in arm as Garrett watches them depart from the bar floor.
Late that night and on ensuing nights to follow, John entertains a woman every night. These women, Ruth Reynolds, Katrina Wills, and others, come to make up his “harem,” those who owe the hospital a great deal of money who are forced to sleep with John else face his pursuit of everything they own.
In the morning we discover that Yuka is a realtor with a lot on her plate. While driving her car, she talks to her attorney, Richard Madden, on the phone about the prospects of suing John and Lyon Hospital, but Richard warns her that it is an uphill battle and that Bridges knows a lot of influential people. She then laments to Richard about how much she hates the real estate industry and is looking for a change. Richard comments that all her work involving trying to bring John down could make her a good private investigator. Later, Yuka meets with detective Thomas Nicholton about how John preys on defenseless women. Thomas responds that this is more of a civil matter rather than criminal. Then she meets with Hamilton and Miriam Koenig, who express their displeasure that the house they want Yuka to sell hasn’t sold yet and in fact has suffered through three previous prospective buyers not appearing for closing. The Koenig’s are under a great deal of pressure. Their granddaughter has leukemia and begins cancer treatment in Colorado the following week so they are willing to sell their house under market prices. They reluctantly give Yuka the go ahead to drop the list price from 2.5 million to two million.
At his mortuary we watch Arestes counsel a grieving widower and recommend that his wife be cremated; the obvious choice for those where costs matter. At Lyon Hospital, self described “bean counter” Roberta Bailey, in accounting, gives an expression of concern at her desk. She later leaves the department to catch an elevator and is surprised to see Arestes and Gordon exiting and heading towards John’s office. She holds her breath as Gordon gives her an apparent glance and then exhales her anxiety and enters the elevator.
Back in her car Yuka talks to Ernie Barkins, her assistant, who tells her to make it a point to get to the house because a woman seems to be interested. Ernie has told the woman that the house is selling for the original 2.5 million and it hasn’t scared her off. This makes Yuka perk up and step on the gas, particularly because Ernie, a part time filmmaker, has said he has to step out for a while to help on a shoot. She then gets another call from a mysterious woman who tells her that something is definitely wrong with Lyon Hospital as this so called “crappy hospital” is making millions. She tells Yuka that she’ll be in touch and then hangs up. Yuka is perplexed by this and calls the number back and talks to a stranger who tells her that the call was made from a payphone at a park in Kaka’ako, a certain section of Honolulu.
Back at the police station, Detective Ethan Castro interviews flighty nightclub hoppers Alyssa Tom and Melanie Smith who tell Ethan of their encounter with an old guy – who naturally fits the description of John – who made lewd advances on Alyssa. But beyond the disgusting incident they describe they come to display “roofies” that they confiscated from the man. “Why,” Alyssa reasons, “Would anyone have these if they didn’t intend to use them!”
Back in his office, John meets with Arestes and Gordon and their conversation suggests that they are the proprietors of some kind of underground business operation that has reaped them a lot of money. It is Arestes who expresses the greatest concern, saying that John’s exploits with women have put them all at risk. John conveys little concern. He has led a Teflon existence as the head of Lyon which has made him both rich and an incomparable lech. Arestes warns that John’s obsession with Yuka and his disdain for the new CEO, Dorothy, will be the end of all of them. John pays little mind. He excuses them when he is alerted by his secretary, Ethel Hinds, that his next appointment is with a prospective new member of his harem, attractive single mom, Janel Simms.
Yuka finds that the woman interested in the house is Dorothy. As she shows her around she senses that Dorothy has an immediate attraction for the place. When Ernie returns we learn through dialogue between the three of them that Dorothy made her fortune through an investment based on a hunch – she saw a PBS special about Brazil and on the next day the Amazon IPO opened and her investment in this dot com company would reap her millions. Dorothy also shares another hunch. She saw Yuka’s realty sign and says it drew her attention since her niece once owned a dog named Yuka and so on a mere “feeling” has decided to buy the house. While Dorothy is using the bathroom, Ernie comments how this is “… like divine intervention,” for on the day that the Koenig’s lower their price, a buyer arrives willing to pay the original amount. But joy is replaced by despair as Yuka discovers that their dream buyer is the new CEO of Lyon Hospital. When Dorothy returns, despite Ernie imploring her not to, Yuka tells Dorothy how Lyon caused the negligent death of her mother and that John is a sexual predator. But rather than storm away from the table, Dorothy places her hand on Yuka’s hand and says, “I believe you.”
In an alley, Garrett meets up with Ryan and it becomes apparent that their previous altercation was a planned event, arranged as a business transaction in order for Ryan to impress Sherry. Ryan apologizes for hitting Garrett for real. Garrett merely asks for the money and then tells Ryan he’s short due to “added medical expenses.” When Ryan balks, Garrett threatens to tell Sherry, and when Ryan says he doesn’t have the “two bills more” that is expected, Garrett offers that they consider it even if Ryan gives a hundred and allows Garrett to give him some words of advice. When Garrett leaves with Ryan’s cash, he’s asked by Ryan about the advise. “Oh yeah,” says Garrett as he turns and decks Ryan with a vicious left cross, “Don’t spend your money foolishly.”
In a meeting with their police captain, Barry Parkinson, Thomas and Ethan discuss their knowledge of John’s predatory tendencies. But Barry, their blunt by-the-book captain, tells them that despite the fact that Bridges might be a “perverted asshole,” that he’s within his right to collect money from people who owe him money. But Barry’s boys point out another odd occurrence. On at least three occasions, communicated to them by either Yuka or other past complainants, Lyon Hospital has made the mistake of cremating a recently deceased patient when cremation had not been ordered by the patient’s remaining next of kin. Barry at first doesn’t see the relevance. But Thomas points out something he learned back at the police academy. “Something that happens once is a mistake. Something that happens twice means someone gets fired. Something that happens a third time is a pattern…” “And patterns,” Barry finishes the sentence, “Lead to motives.”
Back on the road, Yuka and Ernie call the Koenigs. Yuka tells them that they’ve got a buyer for 2.5 million! Yuka assures them that Dorothy is solid and that she’ll be meeting her to get her proof of payment and arranging their closing before the Koenigs get on a plane to Colorado. After their talk Ernie gets a call from his friend Wes, who asks if he could use Ernie’s microphones. Ernie responds no, as others have taken his Lavalier mic’s and never returned them. After his talk with Wes, Ernie asks Yuka what is the history between her and Bridges. Yuka explains that during an especially low point in her realtor life she began to stake out the country clubs wearing a sexy red dress and expensive perfume, hoping to attract men with money for the prospect of turning these “business meetings” into deals on houses. It was there that she met John Bridges, who upon finding out who he was, proceeded to tell him of how her mother was not receiving the proper care from his staff, and for which he said he wanted to talk to her about, then upon advising him that she was a realtor, he then feigned an interest in buying a house as well. And so she found herself accompanying him back to his house. But when he put the moves on her, Yuka proceeded to kick his butt. “Ever since,” she tells Ernie, “He’s had it in for me.” Yuka tells Ernie that she actually thinks Bridges was behind the three prior times when the Koenigs’ buyers mysteriously changed their minds at the last minute.
As they continue back to town, Yuka receives another call from the mysterious woman, who is calling from the same phone number (a park in Kaka’ako). Yuka drives quickly towards Kaka’ako and after keeping the voice on the line they discover the woman at the payphone. It is Roberta. Later, as they sit in Yuka’s car talking, Roberta explains that she works for Lyon Hospital in accounting and has noticed that while the hospital is really not state of the art, the executives are making millions. How? She gives Yuka and Ernie a host of questions, but has no answers, and leaves them with the notion that they have to find out what’s going on.
Back in her department at Lyon, Roberta makes photo copies of documents that she’s not supposed to have. As she sorts them out, Ethel surprises her and asks what she’s been doing of late and notices something behind her on the desk. Roberta, suspecting she’s been had, is relieved to find out that Ethel is really referring to the framed photo of a man, which she assumes is Roberta’s romantic interest. But Roberta explains that the man in the photo is her brother, who she has not had contact with for some time. Across town, Garrett strolls a park and is recognized by Richard. They talk uneasily and we get a sense that Richard knows of Garrett’s past. As Richard leaves the park in his car, he passes Gordon driving in with his truck. Gordon gets out and walks into the park. Back at Dorothy’s condo, Yuka obtains from Dorothy her proof of funds and they talk. We learn that Yuka is originally from Japan and that her mom married a Hawaii man who eventually ditched her, leaving Yuka and her mother to live a hard life in Japan before relocating to Hawaii when Yuka was a young girl. We also discover that Dorothy had known of Yuka well before the apparent serendipitous meeting at the house Yuka was selling. As the new CEO of Lyon, she read the letters Yuka sent to the board about the bad care her mother received in the hospital and the predatory nature of John. Dorothy confesses, “As long as I was going to buy a house, I figured why not buy a house from someone I admire.” Yuka is moved and the two become instantaneous friends.
On an evening out, Dorothy drives to a local shopping mall, and is followed by Gordon in his truck. Dorothy parks her car in the parking lot and walks to the mall as Gordon parks nearby and watches. He twirls a tire pressure gauge between his fingers and foreshadows some plan he has in mind. When Dorothy later returns to her car she discovers one of her tires flat. In frustration she calls the auto club for assistance but is then met by the presence of Gordon, who says he’s a Uber driver waiting for his rider and that he’ll help her change the flat in no time. While she is wary, Dorothy hands Gordon her keys and he proceeds to open her trunk to retrieve the spare tire and jack. Later, after he has changed her tire, Dorothy, grateful for this stranger’s assistance, offers to pay Gordon, but he refuses, saying it was nothing. But as Dorothy drives off we see that Gordon has made an imprint of Dorothy’s car key in a plastic mold.
Yuka, Ernie, and Roberta meet in Yuka’s apartment and look over the documents that Roberta brought from Lyon. They discover that there is a connection between Lyon Hospital and Lightway Mortuary, which is run by Arestes, and that the bank that Lightway’s accounts are with is with a bank for which Yuka knows one of the women she was trying to recruit for her lawsuit happens to work at. It is Janel. Roberta and Yuka visit Janel, and try to convince her to help them, but she declines, saying she has too much to lose. However, later as she puts her young son, Tobey, to bed and reads to him the story of David of Goliath, she is moved by Tobey’s words of wanting to be “like David” and stand up against the big, bad men. This makes Janel have a change of heart.
The rough cut scene (pre sound & color work) of Roberta (Bronsy Tansley), Ernie (Thomas Smith), and Yuka (Lisa Glenn) beginning to put the pieces together about a possible conspiracy involving Lyon Hospital and Lightway Mortuary. Edited by Larry Cortez.
Janel subsequently gets the records for Lightway and makes copies. She receives a scare when bank manager Nathan Nakama catches her in a section of the bank she normally doesn’t frequent. Janel explains that she was just trying to obtain data for a client. Nathan seems suspicious of her activities, but ultimately asks Janel if she could once again handle the Christmas party. Sighing relief, Janel answers, “Sure.” Meanwhile Dorothy finally meets with John and after putting up with his pompous persona, fires him on the spot, leaving him in a shocked state. Janel delivers the copied documents to Yuka and Ernie and before she can leave to return the files she took, Yuka gets a call from Roberta, who tells her that John has been fired. Yuka tells Janel and their problems seems solved. Yuka’s apartment becomes party central as Ruth, Katrina, Janel, Roberta and other women, join her and Ernie for a night of celebration, during which Yuka, in a drunken stupor, tells Roberta about how the Hawaii realty business “sucks” and how she’s looking for a change.
The next day John is in a rage over his firing and meets with his two cohorts, Arestes and Gordon. Arestes tries to talk John into “… taking his millions and riding off into the sunset,” but John will have nothing of that. He instructs Gordon to pay a visit to Dorothy and tells him to take Arestes along so that he knows they’re all in this together. Arestes suspects John is letting his ego and emotions get the best of him and wants no part of any planned vendetta. But John advises him that they’re all joined at the hip, that if one goes down so does all. Arestes sees that John is becoming an obsessive maniac but there is nothing that he can do. He will have to go along.
That night Dorothy is back in the mall parking lot, walking and talking to her husband on her cell and saying how the firing of John, will be the start of changes. As she does, Gordon spies her from afar. Later, in the wait area of a restaurant, a Waiter makes an odd proposal to Dorothy. He explains that there is a gentleman who has been traveling from the mainland all day and his room is not ready and has not eaten all day, but that there are no open tables. So he asks Dorothy if she wouldn’t mind sharing her table? Dorothy ponders the thought for a moment and asks who is the gentleman. The Waiter gestures to the other side of the room and we see Garrett. Dorothy responds, “Why not?” A second Waiter catches up with the Waiter and asks him why the story since there are plenty tables in another room. The Waiter smiles and says, “Hey for three bills I’d give him the room and her with it.” In the parking lot, Gordon opens Dorothy’s car door and places an open bottle of chloroform onto the passenger floor. Back at Yuka’s place her guests has left, but Roberta, too inebriated to drive, is left to sleep on the couch. Yuka puts a blanket over her and sighs over the ordeal she and the others have been through and texts Dorothy a message of praise.
Back at the restaurant, Garrett receives a text saying everything is okay. “Is that your hotel?” Dorothy asks, “They finally get you a room?” Garrett responds, “Yes,” and they proceed to leave. Walking outside, Garrett and Dorothy find that her car is the last one in the parking lot. Garrett tells Dorothy his car is parked on the other side and they say their goodbyes. Dorothy gets into her car, checks her phone for a text she’s received from Yuka, but then proceeds to pass out from the fumes of the chloroform. Gordon then appears with his truck and he and a panicked Arestes proceed to transfer the unconscious Dorothy into Gordon’s truck. While en route Gordon calls John and tells him “… that the package is being delivered.” John smiles and says, “Tell me when you’re close, I’ll open the garage door.”
The next morning, Yuka and Roberta rush around the kitchen, getting ready for a big day. For Yuka, it is closing day with Dorothy and the Koenigs. For Roberta, it’s the first day at Lyon without John Bridges. It’s hectic, but they’re happy as larks. But later, Yuka and Ernie are with Hamilton and Miriam at the escrow office and are told by the escrow officer, Jeffrey, that Dorothy’s funds were not wired into the account as expected. Hamilton fumes, “That’s it, we’re out of here.” Yuka tries to explain that there is still time and that something must have happened to Dorothy. But the Koenigs have had it and leave totally frustrated and disillusioned. Driving back to town, Yuka and Ernie talk about what could have possibly happened. They get a call from Roberta who laughingly says that John came into the office and told everyone he’ll be on vacation for a while. “He doesn’t know,” she giggles, “That we all know he’s fired!” Roberta’s glee then turns to worry when Yuka tells her Dorothy never showed for her closing and that they are headed to Dorothy’s condo to check on her. “Pick me up!” Roberta tells Yuka.
Back in the alley, Gordon meets with Garrett and gives him his pay for his services and mocks him about the “office” he keeps. Garrett, long past caring what others think, asks, “Did your man get what he wants?” Gordon responds with a smile, “Yeah, he did,” and proceeds to walk away. Back with Yuka, Ernie, and Roberta, we see them arrive at Dorothy’s where they are met by Darcy at the front door. Darcy explains that Dorothy had dinner with a stranger and then after she went to her car, the next thing she remembers is waking up the next morning in her car still in the parking lot. Darcy hands Yuka an envelope that Dorothy says was slipped under her door when she returned to her condo. What Yuka takes out of the envelope enrages her, for they are pornographic shots of Dorothy as she lies unconscious. Darcy hands over a note that came with the photos. It reads, “Photos go up on the Internet at midnight unless you change your mind.” Yuka fumes, “It’s Bridges.”
Later, Thomas and Ethan talk with Yuka, Roberta, and Ernie as a sketch artist, Shaundra, draws the face of Garrett, the man Dorothy had dinner with. Roberta sees the image and recognizes it. She immediately excuses herself, saying she has to get away, maybe get a workout in. She goes on to visit Garrett and we discover that he is the brother she talked to Ethel about. Roberta asks Garrett what has happened to him? Garrett explains how he was having marital problems when their cousin Randy needed help on account of owing money to loan sharks, which was a made up story as Randy actually ‘was’ the loan shark. But Garrett’s dipping into his clients’ money to help Randy was the start of his troubles that would eventually end up with him both divorced and disbarred. Roberta accuses Garrett of plotting against Dorothy, something Garrett vehemently denies, saying that he was only contracted to be seen with Dorothy as her husband was wanting to file for divorce and take her to court. At any rate Roberta tells Garrett that the police will be looking for him since they have a sketch on him that won’t make it hard for them to find him. “Especially,” she says, “Since I’m also going to tell them.”
Back at Dorothy’s, Yuka and Ernie have conveyed to Thomas and Ethan what looks to be a conspiracy between Lyon Hospital and Lightway Mortuary. Thomas suggests that they apply for a search warrant, which would take days. Yuka, explaining that they don’t have days but only have until midnight, takes it upon herself to call John Bridges directly. “Pick up the phone, John,” Yuka demands, “I know you’re there.” When John finally does answer, they proceed to talk to each other indirectly in a way that doesn’t communicate anything definitively but makes it entirely understood between the two of them. If John is given his position back and Yuka agrees to settle her debt by sleeping with him, John will forego posting Dorothy’s photos. After the call Dorothy pleads with Yuka not to go through with it. But Yuka is determined. “I have a score to settle with John Bridges,” she says sternly.
Back at John’s house a celebration is in the offing when John reads an email from Dorothy that says he’s been reinstated. “I got her,” John shouts, “I brought that bitch to her knees.” John cracks up hysterically as he explains that the irony of all things was that the person that was wanting to buy the house Yuka was selling was Dorothy. John goes on to recount how Gordon didn’t have to intervene like how he did with the previous three prospects who were to buy the Koenigs’ house. He gleefully shouts, “You killed two bitches with one stone Gordon!” Arestes implores John to let go of his ongoing vendetta with Yuka and his planned rendezvous. But John will have none of it. He has put Dorothy in her place and his eventual conquest of Yuka is now in sight and will be something he will relish.
Yuka arrives at John’s house clad in a sexy red dress and holding an opened bottle of wine in one hand and a half filled glass in the other. John feels her up to assure that she’s not wired. “I’m not wearing anything!” Yuka says as she pulls away. “Not yet you’re not,” John says lasciviously. Yuka pours him a glass of wine and toasts him as the worst monster in the world. John drinks his glass and laughs. Yuka demands that she get Dorothy’s photos. John retorts by gesturing towards the bedroom and conditions that this will only happen if Yuka is good. As John continues to smile and drink his wine, Yuka appears to be at the lowest point of her existence.
In the morning John wakes up with Yuka nowhere to be found. He walks to the living room and notices messages left on his landline phone and plays them. The first message is from Arestes, who is screaming at the top of his lungs about what John told Yuka. The second is from Yuka who warns John that she will kill him. Then, there is a knock at the door. John answers it and in barges Arestes and Gordon. Arestes explains that he received a call from Yuka saying John told her everything. John is a mass of confusion as he can’t remember anything, recalling only that Yuka came over and they had wine. Gordon sees the empty glass that still has drops of wine in it and smells and tastes it and knows. “Roofies John!” Gordon chastises John, “Your old friend! She used roofies on you!”
Another knock at the door and John answers it. It is Garrett, who charges in and yells at Gordon that he set him up and says that he’s not taking the fall for things. To this the trio stand confused and Garrett realizes they don’t know. “Know what?” asks John. “That Chandler woman,” Garrett says, “She’s dead!” Garrett explains that they found Dorothy with her wrists slit and this news causes a calamity. Into which everyone’s attention is drawn to Yuka, stepping in with a pointed pistol and threatening her ultimate revenge, killing John. But as she’s distracted, Gordon motions to Garrett to do something. Just as Yuka is about ready to shoot John in the face, Garrett wrests the gun away and then holds her at bay, trading off pointing the gun at Yuka and the rest of the men.
While Arestes feels it’s the end of the world, John responds, “This is perfect.” “Oh yeah,” Arestes rolls his eyes, “This is just peachy.” John explains the great secret to Garrett. Patients that die at Lyon are sent to Lightway for funeral arrangements. Those that are set for cremation, are first harvested for their organs and these are returned to John for sale on the black market; a system that they’ve maintained for over 20 years. John offers Garrett a partnership with them, an arrangement that could reap the down and out Garrett “millions.” Arestes gets it. “Yes, yes, you could make a lot of money!” “Only one thing stands in the way of this,” John reasons, and gestures to Yuka, “Kill her, and Arestes will cremate her body and no one will know anything.”
Garrett seems to get it and releases Yuka and points his gun at her. “Sorry lady,” he says. But after a fateful moment of contemplation, Garrett lowers the gun and says, “I can’t.” “Why the hell not?” Arestes pleads. “Because…” Garrett places the gun to his temple and everyone braces for the shot, but instead there is ‘click’ as Garrett pulls the trigger, “… it’s a prop gun!” As John, Arestes, and Gordon stand in shock, Yuka and Garrett celebrate. Yuka reveals a microphone that has been planted in the room and then takes out an earpiece and we hear Ernie say that he got everything recorded. Thomas and Ethan then charge in with their guns and badges announcing that everyone is under arrest. John grabs Yuka with the intention of assaulting her, “Why you God damned bitch!” But before he can harm her, Yuka turns the tables on him and kicks him into a falling heap of pain. Garrett looks on admiringly and says, “You go girl!”
Outside John’s house, Ernie, Roberta, and Barry sit in Ernie’s van. As Ernie and Roberta exchange high fives, Barry asks how did they do things? Ernie explains that after Yuka got John to drink from the wine bottle that was doused with roofies, he was out like a light. After which he, Yuka and Roberta went in and planted the microphone and Ernie waited out the night. Having heard this, law and order Barry has to then follow up. “I have to ask you,” he says, “Now where did you get those roofies?” “Hey that’s not on us,” Roberta replies, “Those babies came from your boys in there.” Barry, chagrined, can only say, “I did not hear that.”
The next day Yuka and Ernie watch as Dorothy signs her final papers and Hamilton and Miriam have finally sold their house and can now leave for Colorado. Later Yuka and Dorothy walk together and Yuka tells her that John’s house was thoroughly searched and all of her photos were kept on a thumb drive and that she’ll be able to erase these after the trial. Dorothy thanks her for everything. “No,” Yuka responds, “Thank YOU.” Outside, Yuka joins up with Ernie, Garrett, and Roberta and finds out that Roberta and Garrett are planning to start their own private investigation company. Roberta suggests that if they’re tired of the real estate world they might want to consider… “We’re in!” responds Yuka and Ernie, and they all drive off to go and meet somewhere about this great new idea.
In the final scene of the movie, we see Yuka putting flowers on her mother’s grave. She speaks in Japanese, saying that everything will be okay now and that she’s found a new job and not to worry about her. “After all,” she says, “I learned from you.” Yuka then turns and walks across the expanse of the memorial park as we end and fade into our ending credits.
Closing Costs benefited from a very large and talented cast who were entirely cast by producer, Eric Nemoto. Actors and (roles) were as follows: Lisa Glenn (Yuka); Timothy Jeffryes (John); Bronsy Tansley (Roberta); Thomas Smith (Ernie); James Roberts (Arestes); Michael E. Carter (Gordon); Rebecca Lea McCarthy (Dorothy); Steve Cedillos (Garrett); Kelehua Kawai (Janel); David Greene (Thomas); Wes Cortez (Ethan); Ana Jimenez McMillan (Darcy); Mark Bush (Richard); Patrick Jeppeson (Barry); Robert Morrison (Hamilton); Leslie Brown (Miriam); Art Balligui (Ryan); Jeri Lynn Endo (Ethel); Dann Seki (Nathan); Starla Marie (Alyssa); Liz Toys (Melanie); Pong Kham (Sherry); Alan Picard (Arte/Man’s Voice); John Huser (Waiter 1); Kevin Sun (Waiter 2); Patrick Piotrowski (Geno); Howard Noh (Harold); Steve Dillard (Wes – Voice); Van Anh Nguyen (Shaundra); Ana Ravedutti (Ruth); Herb Kolo (Jeffrey); Jeremy Cortez (Wes – In Car); Carolyn Ronzio (Katrina); Kanani Dias (Woman at Party 1); Mia Pattison (Woman at Party 2); Lucy Liu (Woman at Party 3); and Nicholas Kahilina’i Kawai (Tobey). More actors serving as background artists were utilized for two scenes – the Dorothy and Garrett restaurant scene and the Arte, Geno, Ryan, Sherry, and Garrett bar scene.
Leading the way would be a small but dedicated crew: Lisa Glenn proved to be more than just a sit back and watch executive director, as she helped tremendously with securing locations, extras, and chipped in with impromptu purchases of craft; writer Eric Nemoto would produce and direct; Larry Cortez would be the director of photography as well as be expected to edit and contribute ADR services; Larry’s son, Jeremy Cortez, would be on sound and second camera; Jana Kaaloa, a referral from a frequent YBS collaborator, Mahealani Diego, would be on hair and makeup; Dann Seki, another frequent YBS associate, would handle all SAG-AFTRA paperwork; J. Edward “Eddie” Murray, a recommendation from actor James Roberts, took on the position of craft services coordinator; Art Balligui, in addition to acting, would assist with choreographing the fight scenes for Ryan and Garrett, as well as the ending Yuka and John scene; and lastly, Tina Loo (makeup) and Tim Saquing (assistant camera) provided support on certain shoot days.
Keauhou Place (pictured above and located at 555 South Street, Honolulu, HI 96813), where Lisa had condos listed for sale, served as home base for the production. It served as a basic starting off point, provided parking, a rehearsal site (condo rooms on the 38th and 40th floors), served as some scene locations, and also was a place where the crew could meet (the building’s recreational room on the 8th floor).
Locations were obtained through the assistance of members of the cast, crew, and other supporters. Lisa Glenn obtained her lawyer’s, her broker’s, and her friend’s insurance, offices, to be the sites for John’s office scenes, Janel’s bank office scenes, Arestes’ office scenes, Roberta’s office scenes and outside hallway scene, the police office scenes, and Richard’s office scenes. Lisa also allowed the production to use her apartment to be the apartment of Yuka. She also got the production the use of a condo in Executive Centre which served as Dorothy’s condo (in which the Roberta contemplating in bed scene was also shot). Lisa’s Lexus also served well for all of Yuka’s car traveling scenes. Finally, Lisa also suggested the scenic establishing shots of Valley of the Temples Memorial Park and a night time shot of Honolulu from the perspective of Kapiolani Community College on Makapuu Avenue. Mark Bush coordinated the use of Martine Aceves-Foster’s house in Kailua for all of the John Bridges’ house scenes (which involved four days, two of which were added shoot days since the second shoot day – which was supposed to be the last – resulted in the production not getting all of the scenes in). This particular shoot was critical, for if not for Martine’s great support of the project, the shoot would not have been completed as scheduled. Michael E. Carter helped to arrange the use of Kahala Mall’s parking lot to shoot the Dorothy in the parking lot scenes, suggested the alley off of Richards Street in Honolulu which served as the site of the “Garrett’s office” scenes, and allowed the use of his truck for the Gordon driving scenes. John Huser helped to obtain Hawaii Voice KTV & Lounge for the Garrett bar scenes. Bronsy Tansley helped to obtain Aloha Beer Company for the Dorothy and Garrett restaurant scenes. Kelehua Kawai offered her house to serve as Janel’s house scenes. Eric Nemoto obtained the use of a new house on the market that his son flipped in Hawaii Kai to serve as the house that Yuka is selling as well as the escrow office; and chose the exterior of Keauhou Place (Gordon watching Darcy and Dorothy arrive and Ernie contemplating in his van scenes), Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area (Garrett in the park scene), Keauhou’s 40th floor hallway (the Yuka and Dorothy post signing scene), Keauhou’s 3rd floor parking garage (the ending “We’re in” scenes), Keauhou’s 8th floor gym (an added scene showing Roberta on a treadmill), Keauhou’s 8th floor swimming pool area (Ernie at his film shoot), Hawaiian Memorial Park (Yuka’s ending scene) for a variety of scenes. Eric also selected much of the scenic establishing shots that were shot (e.g. Pali Lookout, Tantalus, Sandy Beach, a number of streets in Honolulu for the Yuka exterior car driving scenes, and Kaka’ako Waterfront Park – which also served as Garrett’s contemplation scene), as well as Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park for the Roberta on the payphone moment. Larry Cortez allowed the use of his grandfather’s house in Ewa Beach for the Garrett apartment scenes, suggested the 40th floor condo for Yuka’s restless sleep scene, as well as recorded most of the voice-overs there as well (save for the voices of Roberta, Arestes, and Yuka’s message recording which were recorded at the close of a shoot when all were present and extra time existed). Finally, Keauhou’s 40th floor condo and the 8th floor recreational room served as the dual sites (started in the former and completed in the latter) for recording Lisa voicing over all of Yuka’s dialogue, which would be held on file for possible use.
Based on everyone’s (cast and crew alike) unique schedules and in conjunction with the availability of the locations obtained, Eric created a production schedule that was set up for an ambitious, periodic (generally on week nights and weekends, with some exceptions) 25-day shoot which would begin on March 15th, 2018, and would wrap on April 10th, 2018. In spite of the grueling, almost daily shoot schedule, filming pretty much stayed on course, only failing once to get a day’s scenes in (which was still later made up for), and taking only two real days off (April 2, 2018 and April 5, 2018). In the end, the shoot indeed wrapped after its final planned day of shooting on April 10, 2018, resulting in a production where its principal photography had come in on schedule.
BTS shots of the production of Closing Costs courtesy of Lisa Glenn, Larry Cortez, Jana Kaaloa, Jeremy Cortez, and Art Balligui.
Post Production & Premiere
Upon its production wrap, Closing Costs was edited by Larry Cortez in between working on other Yellow Brick Studio projects. Working with Eric Nemoto, Larry eventually achieved a picture lock version on February 4th, 2019, after which the work was transferred over to Mark J. Bush to handle the final sound design and music. Mark diligently worked on the movie until it was finally done on July 15th, 2019. Closing Costs was then officially premiered off of the online platform, Vimeo, to a gathering of cast and crew on the evening of July 25th, 2019 in the 8th Floor recreational room of Keauhou Place at 555 South Street in Honolulu, which during the movie shoot served as home base. While it wasn’t a black tie and red carpet affair, it was a wonderful evening that reunited friends over pizza and popcorn. In his pre-movie speech, Eric Nemoto noted that “It takes a village to make a movie,” and that every member of the cast and crew had contributed their talent, effort, and time, but that most of all, everyone was indebted to Lisa Glenn for her tremendous initiative and support in producing the movie.
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