|Parts Of The Same Circle|
STATUS: In distribution. Parts Of The Same Circle is available on the Roku TV channel, All Hawaii TV, and on YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy. It has also been uploaded to the online movie distribution company that YBS has developed an association with, Filmhub, where it has been picked up by the online movie platforms, Popsy on Plex, Tubi, Xumo, International Media Network, Mometu, and Amazon Prime Video. In addition, DVDs (see inset photo at right) of both a standard and extended director’s cut version of the movie were also produced and distributed primarily to members of the cast, crew, and numerous supporters.
The alternate poster for Parts Of The Same Circle that is used on some online movie platforms.
With respect to Amazon Prime Video, Filmhub has an agreement with Amazon which allows all movies accepted to be available to numerous countries. These countries appear below in a screen shot of Filmhub’s channels page.
LOGLINE: 11 storylines revolving around the theme of death interweave with the message that dying is not apart from life, but rather an integral part of the circle of life. An overview of this plot line can also be viewed in this promotional email which was sent at the movie’s release online.
IMDb: Parts Of The Same Circle
Parts Of The Same Circle was written by Eric Nemoto, and co-directed by Denny Hironaga and Eric, and produced under the production company, Serenergy Productions, which was established in 2010 by five individuals – Eric, Dann Seki, Allan Okubo, Jim Tharp, and Denny – who had all been associated with the local performing arts community for years, and who had been individually associated with many independent film projects on their own. Based on their years of experience and a collective “we can do this on our own” mentality, they elected to combine their talents and financial resources for the purposes of creating an independent motion picture. A great video – which features interviews with Serenergy Production’s five producers who chronicle how the movie’s epic movie production was accomplished – follows below.
The Production Of Parts Of The Same Circle – Filmed And Edited By Denny Hironaga
The producers of Parts started with a clean slate; literally a blank sheet of paper upon which story points were jotted down during a single brainstorming meeting. What came out of this session were three main objectives: 1) the theme of the movie would revolve around how people are affected by and deal with death; 2) leading roles would be written for four of the five producers (Denny, a self professed “non-actor,” would serve as co-director, DP, and editor); and 3) the production would include as many local actors as possible in an attempt to showcase the great talent in Hawaii. Armed with this “mission,” Eric proceeded to feverishly write the screenplay and finished it in nine days.
The result was a drama that featured 11 separate stories following people in Hawaii whose lives are affected by death in some fashion. These include siblings who were never close having to come together to plan their father’s funeral, the romantic bliss of two divorcees finding each other being brutally interrupted by the discovery that the woman has terminal cancer, golfers dealing with the immediacy of death when one of the foursome dies of a heart attack after a great shot, and the wonders that a bank VP discovers when he is forced by his boss to go on a ghost tour as a condition of becoming the next president of the company. Through these storylines, that serendipitously weave together, the characters learn how death can change their lives forever and serves as a metaphor for tragedy, redemption, reconciliation, love, wonder, and even humor.
Given the multiple storylines, Parts turned into an incredibly ambitious project requiring the filming of 180 separate scenes using over 60 different shooting locations; and true to their intentions, the producers cast nearly every major Hawaii actor while coordinating a total of over 250 acting talent in all by the time the production was completed. To coordinate this massive project, the producers designed a meticulous shooting schedule which they used to consistently shoot scenes on selected weeknights and weekends over the course of an entire year (January through December 2011). In the end this resulted in the production actually finishing ahead of schedule (it was anticipated that filming would require the equivalent of 40 full days of shooting, but in fact principal photography was completed after what was determined to be the equivalent of 38 days). Essentially, Parts became an epic shoot that ultimately required herculean efforts from the team. Allan tenaciously scouted, negotiated, and secured the use of the great majority of the locations. Dann had the unenviable assignment of coordinating all of the talent for each shoot and did so with incredible efficiency. Denny eventually had to create the movie while sifting through over 36 hours of total footage. And Jim Tharp, who portrays the pivotal central character of Reverend James Katsner, gives the rock solid performance that is at the heart of the movie. The trailer for the movie follows.
The Trailer For Parts Of The Same Circle – Filmed And Edited By Denny Hironaga
The production was particularly made possible by the partners’ personal connections to the local performing arts and film community as they were able to recruit Hawaii’s finest actors to participate in the project; most of whom agreed to work gratis (save for a few SAG actors who were required to be paid according to union rules). The following segment on Hawaii News Now features Eric and Dann Seki, two of the five producers of Parts, discussing how the movie was made.
Dann Seki and Eric Nemoto talk about the making of Parts Of The Same Circle
Premiere & Film Festivals
The successful completion of Parts Of The Same Circle demonstrates how a massive independent movie production can be effectively and efficiently organized. For in spite of the enormous logistical challenges that the project presented, by tenaciously continuing their shoot schedule, the producers managed to managed to complete principal photography ahead of schedule. Parts was privately premiered on August 18, 2012 at the Leeward Community College Theatre, for which an advance ticket sale drive attracted over 1,000 reservations for two screenings.
Footage Of The Premiere Of Parts Of The Same Circle – Filmed And Edited By Denny Hironaga
Parts was subsequently accepted to and screened at both the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) and the Big Island Film Festival (BIFF). Reviewer Robert Pennybacker (Honolulu Weekly, October 2012) reported the following after watching the HIFF screening:
I found myself crying and laughing throughout the movie without once feeling manipulated. The fact that a film like this has seen the light of day tells me that Hawaii’s independent film movement is finally starting to grow up. What it took was courage, commitment, and intelligence – qualities that these filmmakers have in spades.
Parts was also later accepted into the online Lift-Off Global Network 2020 Paris Film Festival, 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 the films as well as attend pre and post festival activities. Due to the pandemic of 2020 these festivals were screened solely online.
Parts Of The Same Circle was also subsequently accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival.
It Takes A Village
So many individuals gave of their time and talents to help make “Parts Of The Same Circle” a reality. To begin with, every actor who attended and completed the audition process was eventually given a role in the movie in some form. As the team proceeded through the pre-production of all of its scenes, it kept getting eager participants who would provide their support to the project in some fashion.
Of an approximate total of 300 people who contributed in some manner to the production, a few absolutely went beyond the call of duty. Camera operators Michael Ng, Wayne Takabayashi, and Anthony Vallejo-Sanderson assisted with the filming of the “tonnage” of shots from every angle imaginable. Audio post production became the work of Ross Okamura, from Audio Bytes Corporation, who put in countless hours to refine the movie’s sound. Wayne Paakaula served as the movie’s music supervisor and brilliantly coordinated its soundtrack. Tracy Okubo served in various capacities, including working as a production assistant, helping on sound, and recruiting background artists. Most significant of all were the great contributions of Gary Okuda, Bill Orihuela, and Ethie Mendonca, who provided support in innumerable ways including providing shoot locations, helping with craft provisions, and just being willing to assist in any way possible.
The 11 “Parts” Of “Parts Of The Same Circle”
Parts Of The Same Circle features 11 different storylines that at first seem to be entirely unrelated to each other. But then it is revealed that these individual vignettes are in one way or another interwoven through the movie’s central character, the reverend, who is presenting a death and dying workshop. In the end, the stories combine to give varying perspectives about death. But contrary to a story that portrays death in a stereotypical depiction of tragedy and grief, it results in a movie that is a wonderful blend of drama, mystery, romance, and comedy.
DOCTOR DEATH: Jim Tharp plays Reverend James Katsner, whose workshop on death and dying is the central focal point through which all stories are interwoven and somehow connected with, and wherein he shares his own personal experience of dying.
THE DISINTEGRATION OF US: Allan Okubo, Keith Kashiwada, and Karen Hironaga play siblings who must plan their father’s funeral, but in doing so, will have to overcome a family tragedy that happened long before which has forever scarred their lives.
LOVE, INTERRUPTED: Dann Seki and Elissa Dulce play two divorcees who find love the second time around, only to discover that their future may not happen because of cancer. She can’t see a future with him. He can’t see one without her.
THE GHOST TOUR: Eric Nemoto plays a bank executive who is told by the outgoing president and CEO, played by the late Bill Ogilvie, that he will be the new man in charge on one condition – he must go on a ghost tour, which will come to change his life.
THE COMEDIAN: Troy Apostol plays a comedian who, because of a past DUI, has to perform 400 hours of community service at an old folks home where people die. David Farmer plays an attorney and friend who looks out for him.
THE UNLIKELY FOURSOME: Curtis Duncan plays a visiting dentist who skips the final day of his dental convention to take in a round of golf with three golf course rats, Dennis Ihara, John Wat, and Will Hao, in a round that will change all of their lives.
LOVE LETTERS ON THE AIR: Stephanie Conching plays a radio DJ who decides to stay on the air indefinitely as she tries to cope with the recent death of her close friend, and Devon Nekoba plays her empathetic and understanding boss.
THE ANNIVERSARY: Marion Lyman-Mercereau plays a mother whose daughter was raped and murdered 27 years earlier and whose killer was never caught. Once a year, she meets with the detective, Howard Bishop, for an update.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL: Eric Mita plays one half of a champion tandem surf couple. He has not accepted the death of his wife (and partner), and his family – James Bright, Jessica Furman, Justin Fragiao, and Lisa Katagiri Bright – can see it.
MARILY: Renee Garcia plays a woman who has problems. As an ad salesperson for a newspaper who takes calls for obituaries she deals with death every day, which affects her. A concerned co-worker, Sherry Clifton, attempts to talk to her.
KYLE FUKUSHIMA: Reyn Sugai plays the spirit of a young man who roams the earthly realm as penance for having committed an unforgivable crime. His story is shared by Lopaka Kapanui , who plays the guide of a ghost tour that visits haunted places.
In Tribute To Jim
The original script for Parts Of The Same Circle had the lead character of “Kats” patterned after the late Dr. Mitsuo “Mits” Aoki (see below), who was an expert in the field of death and dying and who helped many through the process of dying for decades. In fact, the character’s name was originally penned as Katsuo “Kats” Aoyagi. Believing this central lead character would likely be the most difficult to find, the team thought to reserve this audition for last. But on the very first day of open casting, 10-time Po`okela recipient Jim Tharp walked in the door and was the very first actor to read for a part. Though he auditioned for another role, once he was done it was very clear. On August 21, 2010, mere days after the passing of Dr. Aoki (August 16, 2010), “Parts” had found its pivotal lead actor and the story’s character name was merely changed. Jim would eventually join the team as a partner and the rest, as they say, is history. Looking back, it might have been fate that led Jim to take on what could possibly be – in a remarkable creative career in which he was generally regarded as one of Hawaii’s finest actors – not only his greatest role, but possibly the most appropriate. For Jim was intimately acquainted with death. Having “lived” with stage 4 cancer for well over 15 years, he had been technically “dying” for a very long time (“Off the charts,” as Jim said his doctor told him). Since Jim finally left us on March 21st, 2017, looking back, his monologues about death in the movie now resonate with almost a sense of prophecy. Aside from being a great actor, Jim was courageous and never let his “dying” stop him from living life to the fullest. He possessed passion, wit, and most of all an incredible sense of humor (it was he who self proclaimed himself to be “Kenji,” in recognition that he was the only producer who wasn’t Japanese). Those of us who remain miss him dearly. But we take comforting solace and great pride in that with Parts Of The Same Circle, we have captured his amazing talent forever, and, arguably, his greatest performance of all time. To our good friend, Jim “Kenji” Tharp, a hui hou.
The Cosmic Dancer
Parts Of The Same Circle is dedicated to the life of the late Dr. Mitsuo “Mits” Aoki (12/4/14 – 8/16/10). Nicknamed by his students “The Cosmic Dancer” because of his tai chi and aikido like movements in class and his sudden jumping on a table in class to do a little dancing, Aoki founded the Department of Religion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and regularly taught courses such as Religions of Mankind and The Meaning of Existence for forty years thereafter. Aoki also gave seminars on death and dying, relaying his many experiences in counseling families of those losing a loved one, whom he considered his teachers. The scene where Kats “dies” is based on Aoki’s own near death experience, and became the inspiration for his becoming a world leader on the subject of death and dying. In his life considered a Living Treasure of Hawai’i, Aoki was instrumental in establishing Hospice Hawai’i and received their Lifetime Achievement Award and the national Jefferson Award for his exemplary career of religious and academic leadership and volunteer services to those experiencing terminal illness. In helping so many to cope with death, Dr. Mitsuo “Mits” Aoki taught everyone how to live.
More information on the amazing life of Mitsuo Aoki, theologian, minister, and college professor, is available through the Mits Aoki Legacy Foundation, whose mission is to make accessible his pioneering work, and that of others, by teaching and promoting a holistic approach in the areas of health, healing, and death and dying, to individuals, groups, organizations and institutions. The Foundation also features the digitized Mitsuo Aoki Collections, which includes written papers of unpublished talks, sermons, articles, lectures and yet unseen videos of Reverend Aoki through the online portals of the University Archives of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and ‘Ulu’ulu: The Henry Ku’ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaii, University of Hawai’i at West O’ahu. The Mits Aoki Legacy Foundation website can be accessed by clicking here.
Eric, Dann, Allan, Jim, And Denny, Celebrating At Formaggio’s In Kailua On The Night Of The Final Shoot, December 13, 2011.