GENRE: Espionage Drama.
STATUS: In distribution. Grab is available on YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy, and the Roku TV channel, All Hawaii TV. In addition, Grab was also accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival.
LOGLINE: An anthology of short films that center around a genius hacker’s computer program that can steal millions from online accounts and the cast of characters who would do anything to possess it.
Grab is the creation of Mark Ganialongo (see top left inset photo), who has been an active filmmaker and editor in Hawaii for years. He and Eric Nemoto (see bottom right inset photo), of Yellow Brick Studio (YBS), had known and worked with each other for years, and Mark had also been an occasional attendee in Eric’s “Just Act” acting classes which first began with the ADR Model & Talent Agency. Working as one of the production team for New Hope Chapel, Mark was on the crew for the filming of New Hope’s Cutback, a short film directed by Tim Savage, which told of a young man (portrayed by Sheldon Nakashima) attached to material things who realizes what’s important in life when he learns his dad develops cancer. Eric portrayed the dying father and the film would become a favorite Christmas parable for New Hope’s televised church services during the holidays. Mark and Eric also worked together to help produce three dark night plays at the community theater that Eric founded, TAG – The Actors’ Group, which centered around Jeff Katts’ angels versus demons creative concepts (first, his “Soul Saviour,” and then “Jackie Claxton,” universes), with Mark portraying characters in “Ultio Venia,” 2008, “Dancing Between Heaven & Hell,” 2009, and “The World Of Jackie Claxton,” 2013. After the last of these plays, Mark then relocated to North Carolina to take a job working in production. After spending a number of years working in the Old North State, Mark then returned to Hawaii in 2019 and attended Eric’s acting class (which had now been relocated to the Brad Powell Theatre at TAG) in May. This was a fortuitous occurrence for Eric, as he was starting to think of future YBS productions and needed to find new filmmaking partners. Eric posed the idea of Mark and he working together and they subsequently met in July to think of projects. In their meeting, two projects were decided. Mark would assume the editing function for The Curse Of Witness Protection, and Eric would help to produce a short film that Mark would shoot. The film in question involved an old short film Mark had produced years before that he wished to do over. Eric enthusiastically agreed to produce the project and have it fall under the company umbrella of YBS. Both Mark and Eric felt it would be a good partnership for a number of reasons. Mark gained a production company complete with current business licenses and active insurance policies, as well as someone (Eric) who was familiar with the filing of SAG-AFTRA productions for which it was anticipated that Mark would be casting union actors (and in fact did). Eric gained a filmmaking partner who could serve in both (as mentioned) editorial and DP capacities. He had purposely put Yellow Brick’s filming on hold pending the completion of a number of movies that YBS had in post. However, as the end of 2019 loomed in the distance, he did not want to stop YBS’ record of filming at least one film a year since the company was formed and began shooting in 2014. In fact, since that year, YBS had produced nine movies; with one in 2014, two in 2015, two in 2016, two in 2017, and two in 2018. While it was important to finish what was currently in post, the thought of going an entire year without filming anything was unacceptable. While another feature film was contemplated during their meeting (what would later become the wacky comedy, Ramon Runyen, planned for November, 2019), it was decided that Mark’s short film, Grab, would fulfill the need for YBS to produce another project, and keep its annual filming streak alive.
Late at night two men, computer hacker Steve, tall and angular, and muscle man Chris, tall and husky, break into the darkened country home of who they believe to be a “genius hacker,” whose computer programs for stealing from online accounts is said to be legendary. Chris manages to jimmy the lock open and tells Steve to wait as he checks the place out. Finding no one home he returns to the front door and tells Steve it’s okay to enter but to remember not to turn on any lights or else risk awakening the neighbor’s flock of chickens. He wonders why the hacker would choose to live out in the “boonies,” to which Steve retorts, “You expect him to set up shop in the mall?” Chris points to a laptop on the kitchen counter and tells Steve that is probably what he’s looking for. Steve nods. The night has begun easy enough.
As Steve proceeds to take apart the laptop, Chris snacks on a banana and relaxes on the living room recliner. Eventually, their mission is interrupted by a car driving into the driveway. Steve quickly shuts down the laptop and they take cover in the kitchen, with Steve kneeling below the counter and Chris stepping behind a wall near to the back door. Soon, they watch a woman, Andrea, enter the house. She turns on lights and proceeds to walk across the living room and into the hallway. Her brief departure spurs Chris to signal to Steve that they should exit through the back door. He does so. But just as Steve attempts to follow his lead, Andrea returns and texts a message into her cell. Steve freezes, hoping she won’t enter the kitchen. But she does, and explodes in a fury of kicks into Steve. “Who the hell are you?” Andrea shouts. She continues to kick the cowering Steve until she’s put into a standing rear naked choke hold by Chris, who quickly puts her to sleep. As Chris binds her with duct tape and a rag to cover her mouth, he wonders aloud. “Who the hell is this?” Steve guesses it’s the hacker’s wife. “What do you mean, ‘I guess?'” Chris retorts. Steve uses Andrea’s finger to open up her cell and the cover photo is of her and a guy, who Steve assumes is the hacker. “That’s him… and yep, his wife.” Chris tells Steve to finish up what he’s doing while he leaves to figure things out.
Later in the night, as Steve continues to work on the laptop, he is drawn to Andrea coughing behind the rag that is tied around her mouth. He rushes around the counter and takes the gag from her mouth. She asks for water and Steve obliges by filling a cup from the kitchen faucet and bringing it to her lips. Andrea swallows a gulp and then screams “Help!” Steve is forced to cover Andrea’s mouth and explains that he doesn’t want to put the gag back on but if she refuses to be quiet he’ll be forced to. Andrea nods. Steve takes his hand away and she and he go on to talk. Steve explains to her that he and Chris are there to take something from her husband, and explains that he has hacked into more banks and stolen more money than anyone he knows. Andrea tells him that she had no idea of his clandestine activities. To her he was a stock trader. As they continue talking they reveal more about each other. Steve volunteers that he and Chris used to work for their boss whose account was hacked and pilfered by her husband and so were put on assignment to find this hacker. But in tracking him down, they both decided to take matters into their own hands. Their intention is to steal her husband’s hacking programs and sell it on the dark web. “We already got a bidding war going on. All payments in crypto, no traces to us.” Their friendly conversation is interrupted by an increasingly stressed Chris, who steps into the house, walks over and asks, “What the hell is going on?” and steps over to put the gag back on Andrea. He warns that there should be no talking and leaves, walking through the front door. Steve mouths, “I’m sorry,” to Andrea and goes back to his laptop.
Later, Chris returns from outside and asks Steve how he’s doing. Steve responds that he’s finishing up. Chris tells him that’s good, and when Steve asks him what is he doing, Chris responds, “About to solve a problem.” Chris goes over and starts to pick up Andrea with the intention of heading her out the door, where he intends to kill her and bury her in a grave he has finished digging in the backyard. But Steve implores him not to go through with it, saying that is not how they operate and even suggesting that they cut her in the deal to shut her up. Chris is adamant. He sees no other way. As Steve continues to plead his case that this is just not what they do, Chris takes out a gun. “Don’t make me do this,” Chris says, as he points the gun at Steve. Reacting in an instant, Steve reaches for the gun and the two struggle until the gun fires and Chris slumps to the floor, dead. Shocked, Andrea gasps, “What the hell did you just do?” Steve tells her he’ll finish up and then they can get the hell out of there. But in going back to the computer he notices that the screen saver shows what he deduces is the genius hacker and another woman. “Wait,” Steve squints, “You’re not his…”, and before he can finish his statement, Andrea shoots him with the gun that Chris had intended to use on her.
In the morning, Andrea, her clothes soiled after having buried both Chris and Steve, is on her cell phone talking to her father in Spanish, telling him that the operation hadn’t been easy but that everything is going to plan. She ends her call and arrives at a car where her sister, Natalia, is standing by the trunk. They speak in Spanish. Andrea asks her, “Did you make the grab?” Natalia tells her of course she did and asks what took her so long. Andrea tells her that she got “grabbed.” They open the trunk to reveal what we assume is the real wife of the genius hacker, Chloe, who lies gagged and bound. They close the trunk and get in the car. As they do they hear the crowing of chickens rising in the early dawn. Natalia looks around and says, “Ay this is a lot like back home eh? Lots of chickens.” Andrea nods and says, “Let’s go get this hacker son of a bitch.” They drive away. Later, the man we saw in the screen saver, who is in fact the genius hacker, goes to the car that Natalia and Andrea drove away in, which is now parked in an area with a beautiful view of the mountains. He opens the trunk and helps Chloe get out and takes off her binds, after which she slaps him. “What took you so long? She asks. “Traffic,” he responds, “Plus, we’re in the middle of nowhere. Did you get all the info?” “Like stealing candy from a baby,” Chloe responds. They smile and the mystery of “Grab” will continue in the next segment to be filmed.
Mark cast the characters in Grab, utilizing certain actors he knew and worked with before, as well as certain actors that Eric recommended. Mark cast Dezmond Gilla (SAG) in the role of Sam (first in photo montage), Lizzie Laws as Chloe (second in photo montage), and Grisel Toledo (SAG) as Natalia (third in photo montage). Eric recommended, and Mark subsequently cast, Ana Ravedutti (SAG) as Andrea (fourth in photo montage), Thomas Smith (SAG) as Steve (fifth in photo montage), and Michael Carter as Chris (sixth in photo montage). Eric worked with Michael to secure the location where the film would be shot, Michael’s house, which he graciously offered up (located at 47-040 Okana Place, Kaneohe, HI 96744). The shoot was then scheduled for three days, August 31st, September 1st, and September 8th, 2019.
Getting Set Up To Shoot The Opening Chris And Steve Scenes
Eric worked with SAG-AFTRA to secure approval which turned out to be a drawn out, somewhat nerve wracking experience. In spite of the fact that all documents were turned in by the recommended three-week prior to shoot deadline, Grab did not get its official SAG-AFTRA approval until a few days before. Furthermore the production learned that per SAG rules, had they shot on the day before Labor Day, September 1st (a recognized SAG-AFTRA holiday), then the union actors (although all were electing deferred payments) would be owed doubletime pay. As this was not anticipated, it was decided that the shoot would be reduced to two days, August 31st and September 8th, 2019.
Shooting The Natalia And Andrea Scene
Mark directed the shoot and had the great fortune of having two exceptional cameramen, both experienced DP’s in their own right, to film the scenes – David Delaney and Sean Hayes. Mark Bush worked the sound and Derrick Sokolowski served as the boom operator. Jeff Katts was the first assistant director, Kimi Tupuola worked as a production assistant, and Racyne Sugai served as the makeup artist. Grab, in fact, was successfully shot in two days and now progresses into post-production where a 2020 premiere is anticipated.
Shooting The Chloe And Sam Scene
Some scenes from the upcoming short film, Grab, as edited by Mark Ganialongo.