|Shikata Ga Nai|
STATUS: Principal photography completed in March, 2023, and the movie is currently in post-production.
COMPANY NOTES: After the script was written, the roles were cast with the intention of filming in 2020. But the onslaught of the pandemic forced a postponement. With COVID lessening for a time being, a preliminary shoot involving a few scenes was conducted in August 2021. Portions of what had been filmed became part of a crowdfunding campaign (see the “Indiegogo” fundraising section below). Principal photography began again in July 2022 but was then delayed again by new SAG-AFTRA rules which required YBS to both hire an established entertainment payroll company as well as additional liability insurance coverage. Eventually obtaining both, YBS then began shooting again in December, 2022, with periodic shoots occurring in January, February and March, 2023. Production wrap was achieved on March 27th, 2023, just in the nick of time before the required project insurance was set to lapse on April 1st, 2023 (an appropriate date). A more detailed account of the progression of shoot days can be found under “Production Update.”
LOGLINE: A retired Honolulu man, a WWII veteran and member of the famed 442nd RCT, has visions of a young German soldier which recalls an incident from the war that haunts him still.
IMDb: Shikata Ga Nai
SYNOPSIS: It is 1999, and Tatsuo “Tats” Kaneshiro is a veteran of WWII living out his autumn days in the quiet seclusion of his suburban home in Hawaii. A member of the famed 442 RCT, the all Nisei (second generation Japanese American) infantry regiment that became the most decorated war unit in American history, Tats spends his time doing the crossword puzzle, tending to his garden, watching television, cooking his favorite SOS (Shit on a Shingle), and occasionally entertaining company like an old army buddy he plays chess with, and his single parent daughter and attention deficit grandson. But the peace that seemingly hovers over his daily existence masks his internal struggle. For though the war has been over for 50 years, Tats relives it every day due to a haunting secret about his time in battle that he has kept to himself. Inspired by the true life tendencies of many 442 veterans who have never told their families of their war experiences, “Shikata Ga Nai” tells of the battles that these now declining heroes have faced on their own without no one else knowing. A promotional email providing an overview of the project, primarily created to help promote its crowdfunding campaigns, can be accessed here.
The Cover Shot For The Hawaii Herald Article About The Shikata Ga Nai Movie Project
Eric Nemoto wrote the script in 2019. It was inspired by his family on his wife’s side who have close ties to the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT). His father-in-law was in the 442 and was one of the men who established the sister city relationship between Honolulu, Hawaii and Bruyeres, France. Having visited Bruyeres (which the 442 liberated back on October 18th, 1944) twice, to partake in the city’s annual remembrance of the Hawaii boys who saved the town from the Nazis, he had been intrigued by the fact that many of the surviving veterans have never shared their experiences of the war with their families. As such, he wanted to write a story that centered around this basic theme. The result was “Shikata Ga Nai,” a 120 page script featuring a small cast with limited locations (NOTE: Additional pages of scenes were eventually written during principal photography).
The Shikata Ga Nai Preview – Edited By Christine Tsuzaki, Filmed By Denny Hironaga
A text exchange between Eric Nemoto and a past acting student of his, Steven Dillard (see photo right), in early 2020, became the impetus for initiating this project. Steven had relocated to Georgia years before and had previously acted in voiceover roles in the YBS LegacyVision Films, Juniper Lane and Closing Costs. Steven’s inquiry about the status of YBS projects, prompted Eric to advise him accordingly, which included the prospect of filming Shikata Ga Nai. Steven subsequently agreed to be the project’s executive producer by providing a sufficient production budget (at the time) to shoot the movie. However, the arrival of the great pandemic in 2020 subsequently changed things. Given two of the actors eventually cast were members of SAG/AFTRA, it was readily understood that the movie would be filmed as a union production. But in the era of COVID-19 this took on a greater financial implication. SAG/AFTRA’s stringent testing and PPE requirements makes filming the movie more costly and beyond the scope of the original budget. Hence, it was decided to first film a few scenes involving non-union actors which will be used to create a crowdfunding campaign to raise more funds. This, in fact, was done in August 2021, with a goal of filming the rest of the movie later.
Shikata Ga Nai received a great boost when the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign attracted the attention of Oregon actor Scott Alan Ward (see photo left) to contribute at the maximum executive producer level. With it came the agreed upon perk of receiving a negotiated ownership share of the movie, as well as the opportunity to appear in a featured speaking role (see Casting to follow). Scott’s interest in acting began after retiring early and taking acting lessons. He wants to do as many sorts of roles as he can and learn from those around him. Born and raised in rural Northwest Georgia. Scott served in the United States Army, received his Juris Doctor from Washburn University and practiced law for several years and spent decades in corporate jobs. In these roles he had the chance to travel the world and has worked in over a dozen countries across four continents.
The production has also received financial support from the Nisei Veterans Legacy (NVLC), which was incorporated in 2012 as a non-profit organization as defined under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Its members and supporters are volunteers and primarily descendants of Nisei Veterans. The mission of the Nisei Veterans Legacy is to preserve, perpetuate and share the legacy of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War II. These men primarily served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399 Engineer Construction Battalion. The Nisei Veterans Legacy works to ensure that future generations learn Hawaii’s story of the Nisei soldier legacy by honoring the AJA men and women who served in the U.S. military during World War II. They are committed to sharing their remarkable life stories – from plantation villages and internment camps to exemplary military service – and how they worked with many others to reshape the social, political and economic fabric of the Hawaiian Islands into the vibrant state it is today.
In addition to the great support provided by the Shikata Ga Nai‘s major supporters, four fundraising campaigns utilizing the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, which allows projects to solicit funds for any idea, charity, or start-up business, were created to attain additional funding for this project.
Crowdfunding Campaigns: June 2022, September 2022, November 2022, & January 2023
The photo montage below shows the outstanding cast who will play the various characters in Shikata Ga Nai (from left to right). Dann Seki plays the central character, 442 veteran Tatsuo “Tats” Kaneshiro. Denise-Aiko Chinen plays Tats’ daughter, Lynn Matsuda. Seth Okumura plays Lynn’s son and Tats’ grandson, Ryan Matsuda. Devon Nekoba plays Shawn Saiki, Ryan’s high school history teacher, beginning acting coach, and the eventual romantic interest of Lynn. Steven Dillard plays Lynn’s doctor, Neil Childress. Tat’s mysterious best friend, Seichi Mochizuki, will be played by Allan Okubo. Blake Kirkpatrick plays the Young German Man, the haunting vision of Tats. Titus Nakagawa plays a young Tats in what will be a pivotal flashback scene, which also includes Cory Nemoto, who plays the young Seichi. Lastly, Scott Alan Ward is featured as a waiter who has a personal connection to the 442 legacy, telling Lynn and Shawn how his uncle, a member of the Texas Lost Battalion, was rescued by the 442.
As the project began, Steven Dillard would serve as Executive Producer. Writer Eric Nemoto was to direct and produce. Denny Hironaga, as director of photography, would be in charge of filming and editing the movie. Mark Ganialongo would serve on second camera, a role that would eventually include Steven Dillard. Mark J. Bush would handle all aspects of sound, during both production as well as when the movie would eventually be ready for audio post-production work. Christine Tsuzaki would serve as a PA as well as head up the crowdfunding campaign. Allan Okubo would assist with the securing of locations. Dann Seki would be the production’s SAG-AFTRA liaison. NOTE: Denny Hironaga served as director of photography for the preliminary production shoot held in August of 2021. A scene from one of the shoot days, detailing the forest flashback scene that reveals itself at the end of the movie, appears below.
On Patrol, Young Tatsuo (Portrayed By Titus Nakagawa), And Young Seichi (Portrayed By Cory Nemoto), Encounter The Young German Soldier (Portrayed By Blake Kirkpatrick) – Filmed & Edited By Denny Hironaga
Our story begins in 1999. In a suburban community, retiree Tatsuo “Tats” Kaneshiro, 60’s, checks his mailbox. His hand trembles as he sifts through the mail. He turns to see in the distance a Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man, around 17. Tats stares at the man with a look of sadness for the sight of the young man has meaning to him. His friend, Seichi Mochizuki, 60’s, steps near to him, notices Tats reaction, and says, “Shikata Ga Nai.”
In an office downtown, Lynn Matsuda, 40’s, a divorced Asian woman who is Tat’s daughter, meets with her doctor, Neil Childress, 40’s, after a routine check up. Neil says all her vitals are looking good and that it seems the further her divorce has gotten behind her that her stress levels have decreased. He asks about her son. She responds that he’s still adjusting and that he’s taking an after school acting class which his teachers think will help him get more engaged in school and raise him from the C student that he is. She asks Neil if she could talk to him about her father and tells him that she’s concerned as he just stays at home all the time and doesn’t really go to his doctor, who isn’t proactive in following up with him. Neil nods, knowing a bit about the doctor. Lynn tells him that one thing his doctor did mention was that Tats was showing signs of early Parkinson’s disease. Neil asks if Tats exhibits signs of tremors? Lynn says that Tats’ hands shake. Sleep problems? Lynn confirms that Tats wakes up frequently. Cramps, difficulty walking? While not anymore than what appears as old age aches and pains, Lynn says she notices that he does complain about that. Neil writes down the names of some doctors and tells Lynn to call them. Lynn asks a final question, “Could Parkinson’s also cause someone to see things?” Neil looks at Lynn and tilts his head in curiosity.
Back at his house, Tats weeds in the backyard. Lynn returns in the front driveway and takes out groceries and walks to the front door. Tats picks up a bucket of weeds and as he walks he loses his balance and falls flat on his face. Lynn looks throughout the house for Tats and then opens the back door and sees Tats struggling to get up. She rushes over and helps him up.
Later in the house, Lynn puts a bandage on Tats’ head and tells him he needs to go and see the doctor. Tats tells her he’s all right. She tells him that he’s not, that he’s changing, having tremors, and not being steady when he walks. He denies things as Lynn goes back to putting her groceries away. She tells him he needs to get out of the house. Tats asks where Lynn’s son, Ryan, his grandson, is. Lynn tells him she has to go back and pick him up. Tats questions why he can’t catch the bus and what’s he doing back at the school. Lynn tells him he’s taking an acting class. “Acting?” Tats scoffs, “What the hell is that?” As Lynn leaves the house she notices a small glass chess set atop a table. The chess pieces are set in a manner that suggests a game was being played.
Tats plays chess with Seichi. Seichi asks Tats why he has to always be so hard on Lynn since she’s only trying to help him. Tats responds by saying that Lynn isn’t trying to help him, just that after she got divorced, her life no longer centers around her husband. Seichi comments that he finds it coincidental that she gets divorced just about the same time that Tats wife got sick. Tats shrugs it off. Seichi tells him that things happen for a reason. Tats doesn’t believe in such things.
In the afternoon, Lynn and her son, Ryan Matsuda, 17, take groceries from the car and go to the house. Tats sleeps in his bedroom. Ryan opens the door and wakes him up. Lynn talks to Ryan as she prepares dinner. She asks him what he learned at acting. He responds that his teacher said he did good. At night, Lynn, Ryan, and Tats have dinner together. Lynn tells Tats that the acting class seems to be making Ryan open up. The three have a pleasant dinner together and Tats’ joking with Ryan shows a family that is adjusting well.
The next day, as Lynn is going to her car to pick up Ryan, a car drives up into the driveway. Out from the car pops Ryan and his teacher, Shawn Saiki, 40’s. Ryan explains that his teacher gave him a ride home and goes into the house. Lynn tells him Shawn that he didn’t have to do that. Shawn tells her it’s no problem in that he lives nearby anyway. There is a subtle interest on both their part for the other. They introduce each other. Shawn offers to bring Ryan home every day. Lynn inquires as to how Ryan is doing in acting. Shawn says he’s picking up the basics really fast. Lynn invites Shawn inside for an afternoon snack. Shawn says he’d like to but he has to get home. Lynn assumes he’s got a family waiting. Shawn tells her, no, just a lot of tests to grade. Lynn smiles.
At night, the family sit on the couch watching television. Lynn and Tats on either end with Ryan in the middle. Ryan asks Tats to help him with his history paper. Tats, irritated, tells him to just use the encyclopedias to do his research. Ryan leaves. Lynn asks Tats what’s his problem, and that it’s just that Ryan doesn’t have a father around. Tats barks, “I’m not his father!” Later in the early morning, Tats tosses in bed, having a bad dream. From the perspective of being in bushes, he sees someone approaching, and he takes out a knife. Tats rises abruptly and looks around with wide eyes. Later in the morning Lynn talks to Tats again about his health and tells him to get out of the house for a walk as she and Ryan leave, with Ryan taking a few encyclopedia books. Ryan tells Tats that Shawn is going to help him with his history paper. Tats later does take a walk. But he again sees the Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man awaits. Tats is unnerved by the sight, and turns around and walks back to his house.
At school, Ryan visits Shawn and shows him the encyclopedia books and they begin to work together on Ryan’s history paper. Shawn asks Ryan if he also has worked on his monologue. Ryan says he didn’t get to it. Back at the house, Tats looks into his bedroom closet to take out his golf clubs. In doing so he notices a rectangle box on the top shelf. From his look we know the box has meaning. Later as he chips balls in the backyard, Tats is visited by Seichi and they talk about their golf games. In the driveway, Shawn drives up. Lynn goes out to greet him and Ryan as they exit the car. Shawn tells Lynn that they’ve narrowed Ryan’s subject matter to Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Abraham Lincoln, and Napoleon. Lynn is pleased and invites Shawn in for coffee. Lynn opens the back door to call Tats in to meet Shawn.
Later Shawn, Lynn, and Tats sit at the dining table having coffee. Shawn talks with Tats and learns that he used to work for the Board of Water Supply as a civil engineer and that he attended the University of Hawaii (UH), the same college that Shawn attended only he was a political science major. Lynn laughs, for she majored in sociology. Shawn explains that he decided not to go into law and went into teaching and that he’s also a deacon with his church. This spurs Tats to reminisce about a chaplain he knew in the army. Upon Shawn’s inquiry, Tats confirms that he was part of the 442nd RCT. Shawn inquires with interest as to which company Tats was in. Tats responds, K. Shawn excitedly asks more questions. Tats becomes self conscience and excuses himself. Later, Lynn apologizes to Shawn for Tats’ behavior. Shawna tells her not to worry, that it is common for many 442 veterans not to have told any of their war stories to anyone. Lynn suggests that the next day maybe Shawn could stay for dinner. Shawn tells her he might possibly have a date. Lynn hides her disappointment. Shawn surprises her by asking her out to dinner. Lynn beams happiness and says yes.
The next day at school Shawn asks Ryan if he asked his grandfather whether he could do his paper on him. Ryan tells him no. Shawn notices that Ryan hasn’t been his usual self. Later, back at the house Lynn gets ready for her night out. She leaves to meet Shawn waiting for her in the driveway. Ryan takes notice.
At a restaurant, Shawn and Lynn talk as they wait for their food. Lynn tells Shawn that she works at the front desk of a local hotel and that her hours has her working early and finishing in time for when Ryan normally finishes school. They talk about their respective work places getting ready for Y2K. Shawn tells Lynn that he got into acting after working for Pearl Harbor as a work scheduler. After doing a play for a community theater he was hooked. And later, after being asked to teach acting by his talent agent, he eventually decided to to get a teaching certification, and made a career change. Lynn comments that Shawn is doing a good job because Ryan seems enthusiastic about acting. Shawn asks Lynn how she came about to live back with Tats. Lynn explains that after she got divorced from her ex, John, he got the house, while she got primary custody of Ryan, so they moved back with her dad.
Back at the house, Tats leaves his recliner to go into the back yard to look at his orchids. He is visited by Seichi. They talk about their lives as young men. In his room Ryan sits in his bed listening to music on his Walkman radio. Seichi and Tats then talk about volunteering and training with the 442. Seichi mentions how his mother was worried about him. Tats replies that his mother died while Tats was in France. Seichi speaks of the irony that they trained over and over again, and and yet, in the end nothing went as planned, with death and destruction everywhere. Just a mass of humans all trying to survive. Tats nods a vacant nod and stares out into the night. Back in his room, Ryan finally hears Tats talking in the backyard. He peeks out of his window and sees Tats in the backyard facing away.
Back at their dinner, Lynn and Shawn are in the middle of their meals. Shawn mentions that education should actually teach the more practical skills, like how to manage money, nutrition, the basics – reading, writing, and arithetic – and life skills like shop. Lynn agrees with all his points. Shawn say, “And you’re gonna LOVE this.” Lynn retorts, “What?” Shawn says that one of most important things is personal relationships, or how to talk and act with respect to someone of the opposite sex. Lynn smiles, “You mean how to pick up a girl?” They laugh as both are enjoying their trivial conversation.
Back at the house Tats speaks with great emotion to Seichi, extorting how they were considered cannon fodder during battle. Ryan checks on his grandpa, asking Tats what he’s doing in the backyard? Tats responds that he was just checking on something. Ryan further asks who Tats was talking to? Tats responds, “Oh… that was my friend.” Tats steps into the house and tells Ryan to close the back door before the mosquitoes get in. Ryan obliges him, but looks out curiously into the dark of the night as he does.
Driving home after their date, Lynn and Shawn continue talking. Lynn asks Shawn how he became a deacon. Shawn tells her that his parents were Methodists and that he was always active with the youth group. In fact, he once thought about going to seminary school and becoming an ordained minister. When Lynn asks him what changed his mind, Shawn tells her he realized that God works through everyone regardless of what one does and it’s just up to everyone to see this and lead their lives accordingly. Lynn nods to herself, thinking Shawn may just be a keeper. As they arrive back at the house, Shawn readies to cut the engine but Lynn tells him not to, explaining that she wants to quit while she’s ahead. They both confess that they each had a great time. Ryan peeks out through the drapes and sees them talking.
As Lynn steps into the house, Ryan asks her if Shawn is now her boyfriend. The words cut through Lynn. Her happy expression turns dour as she stares at Ryan. They get into a heated argument. Lynn lashes out, “You PISS me off Ryan! You really do!” She turns and walks into her bedroom and slams the door. Ryan stares and shudders with emotion. Lying in his bed in his bedroom, Tats has heard this.
The next day at school, Ryan visits Shawn too late to have class, but asks him if can still have a ride home. Driving Ryan home, Shawn can sense something’s amiss and asks Ryan if he’s okay? Ryan shocks Shawn by asking if he’s going to marry Lynn, suspecting that he’s using their relationship to hit on his mom. Shawn pulls the car to the side of the road and parks. In trying to clear the air Ryan shows that he was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce. Shawn explains that sometimes people grow apart. It may be just something that can’t be helped.
As they arrive back at the house, Ryan gets out and immediately walks to the front door and goes inside. Shawn notices Tats weeding on the side of the house. He gets out of the car and approaches him. Their casual conversation turns heated when Shawn innocently tells Tats that it would be great if Ryan could do his history paper on his grandfather. Tats gets agitated. Shawn says that Tats should share his stories because many 442 veterans just don’t and it’s a shame because their families should know about their heroism. Tats explodes in anger, saying Shawn doesn’t know about war. Shawn apologizes if he said anything to offend Tats. Tats calms down, tells him never mind, and walks away. Lynn sees the commotion and arrives just as her father leaves and questions Shawn about what is going on. He tries to explain but Lynn is more wanting to know about why did Shawn tell Ryan that they were going to get married? Shawn tells Lynn to put on the breaks and then tries to communicate to her that Ryan still feels the hurt of her divorce and did she ever really talk to him? Lynn will have nothing to do with this. “So, let me get this straight. You’ve never been married, never had a child, we go out once, and you’re giving me parental advice?” Shawn tries to explain himself but it’s too late. Lynn tells him she doesn’t want him bringing Ryan home and moreover doesn’t think their seeing each other will continue. She returns to the house, leaving Shawn to stand astonished, not knowing what just happened. As Shawn’s car drives away, Lynn, looking out from the window in the house, closes and opens her eyes in sadness.
At night, Tats drives to Kaka’ako Waterfront Park and takes a seat on the wall at the ocean’s edge. Seichi joins him and asks if he had to get out of house? Tats confirms this. Seichi tells him there are worse things in the world than having a family that cares for him. Tats looks into the distance and sees the Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man. Seichi diverts his attention by talking about their youthful days when they used to come out to this very site and swim. Tats chuckles and recalls the day that mutual friend they were with saw a shark and made a dash for shore. But when Tats went underwater to see, he saw only a small shark that wasn’t even worth worrying over. The men laugh. But as Tats says, “That was a good day,” we see that he is alone, confirming that Seichi is just a figment of his imagination.
Back at the house, Lynn sits on the couch watching television but her mind is on other things. Ryan joins her. Lynn asks Ryan what happened between him and Shawn. Ryan says that he asked him if he and Lynn were going to get married. Lynn realizes that Shawn was telling the truth. But she explains that Shawn and her are just friends and that they’re not really going to be seeing each other anymore. Ryan apologizes. Lynn pulls him in close. Ryan tells Lynn that she and his dad aren’t ever getting back together. Lynn confirms, explaining that they grew apart, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Ryan admits that Shawn is an an okay guy, actually cool. Lynn smirks, already thinking she’ll have a lot of damage to undo with Shawn. Ryan asks another question. “How come Grandpa talks to himself?” The words cut into Lynn. She stares straight ahead for a beat, and then turns to look at her son, who rests his head against her shoulder.
The next day, Tats looks over a wall calendar that shows October 1999. It has meaning to him. He sits in deep thought in his recliner and sees in his mind: the perspective of someone moving through a forest and hiding within shrubbery; someone approaching; and eyes of terror. Tats comes out of his vision shaking. He sighs. Driving home together, Ryan tells Lynn that Shawn told him that he thought it would be best if they didn’t do the class for awhile. Lynn nods in saddened thought as she drives.
Later at night Tats sees Ryan working on his history paper at the dining table and joins him. He inquires who Ryan decided to do it on. Tats discovers that Ryan’s choice is Attila the Hun. He questions Ryan as to why. Ryan reasons that Attila must have been a great man because he won many battles. Tats tells him it’s not as simple as that. Ryan continues that he was thinking of doing his paper on Abraham Lincoln, but then he didn’t win any battles, wasn’t even in the military. Tats tries to explain that there’s more to the measure of a man than just his war scars. He explains that Lincoln was a great man, that he freed the slaves, while Attila was a butcher of men, women, and children. But Ryan doesn’t get it. He persists that Attila must have been a great man because he defeated the Romans and they were the ones who crucified Jesus, so Attila must have been great. Tats tells him it’s more complex than that. When Ryan repeats that Lincoln can’t be a great man because he was never in any wars, Tats explodes. “There’s nothing glorifying about killing someone, nothing glorifying about war.” Tats gets up from the table. “Do your paper on Lincoln. No matter what you think, he was a great man.” Tats leaves as Ryan watches him.
Lynn drives up a hill looking out into the night for Shawn’s house. In his kitchen, Shawn looks into his freezer and takes out a TV dinner. He hears a knock at the front door. He opens the door to find Lynn. She fumbles through an apology for misunderstanding things. Shawn interrupts to ask her if she had dinner yet. Lynn tells him no. He tells her he makes a great TV dinner. “TV dinner huh?” Lynn says, “You really know how to impress a gal.” “Well, I’ve got a good bottle of wine too,” Shawn replies, “If you drink a good wine with your meal, anything will taste good.” Lynn smiles and accepts his invitation.
Back at Shawn’s place, he and Lynn are finished with their meals and enjoy some after dinner wine. Lynn asks Shawn if he could go back to teaching Ryan acting. Shawn says he will and tells Lynn that Ryan’s working on his monologue, the scene where Peter Finch loses it on air. They get to talking about Tats. Shawn tells Lynn he can’t figure her father out. When he first met him he was so nice, but then he was like another person when Shawn got to talking about the 442. He asks Lynn what does she know about her father’s past. Lynn admits she knows little, but does recall that he went to basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, fought in Italy and France, and in France he helped to liberate the town of Bruyeres. Shawn knows a lot about the 442 being a history teacher but also because he has always taken an interest because of the amazing story of local boys who, because of one history changing moment, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, suddenly are part of a band of people who cannot be trusted, but who in the end become heroes. He tells Lynn the battle history of the 442 and their eventual saving of the Texas Lost Battallion, and that Tats, being a part of K Company, was one of those guys breaking through the German lines.
Back at the house, Tats is having a restless sleep, tossing and turning, for he is in the midst of another nightmare. We see his visions where he is again in a forest and he sees the image of the Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man. We see images of a hand holding a knife and thrusting it forward. Tats rises in bed and looks around in wide eyed shock. Later, he wobbles through the dark of the hallway. He stops at Ryan’s room and listens at the door. Hearing nothing, he continues on his way.
Back at Shawn’s house, Lynn and Shawn have a good time talking about their individual UH days and then transition to talking about Lynn’s divorce. She explains that her ex was never there for Ryan. He never took him fishing, or to ball games, nothing. And he also left Lynn for a way younger woman. In the divorce, he suggested that he buying her out of the house was sufficient so that child support and alimony was not needed. Lynn, the wine starting to get to her tells Shawn she said no way, and threatened to tell his Britney Spears type of a girlfriend all the bad things about him if he didn’t pay up. Shawn raises his eye brows. “You said that?” “Damn right I did,” Lynn confirms, “Hey I may be small but I’m like Mighty Mouse!” They toast to Mighty Mouse and it is clear that the recent troubles that arose are all but forgotten.
Back at the house, Tats, unable to sleep, is in the process of microwaving a cup of hot water when he notices a bottle of whiskey atop the refrigerator. He takes out his warmed cup and dips his tea bag. But after contemplating, he sets the cup to the side and reaches up to retrieve the bottle which has never been opened. Tats looks at it and we know that he will have some in place of his tea.
Back at Shawn’s the mood of their talk is more somber. Lynn explains that she and Ryan moved back in to help care for her mom as she was in the last stages of cancer. She also explains the role Seichi played in Tat’s life, saying they graduated together from McKinley, enlisted in the 442 together, fought together, when they came back they went to UH together, studied engineering together, even worked together at the Board of Water Supply. “Birds of a feather, my mother used to call them,” Lynn says. She explains that Seichi died ten years earlier, ironically on his way to the annual 442 luncheon. Every year, Tats and Seichi would ride together. But that one time, Seichi had to leave early for some reason and so they drove separate. But he never made it. On his way to the luncheon, a car ran a red light and crashed into him. Lynn concludes, “My mother told me that Mr. Mochizuki’s death changed Dad.” Lynn then opens up on something about Tats that she had been holding back. She tells Shawn that her mother first noticed it. That every now and then her mother would hear Tats talking to himself, and after calling him on it and he’d get upset. “Once, while he was working on his car,” Lynn recalls, “He said that he was just repeating the instructions to himself that he read in the car repair book.” Lynn also gives other examples that she finds weird, like another cup of coffee and the pieces of a chess set that are moved, as if someone was playing a match. But nobody plays, not her, not Ryan, and she’s never seen Tats show any desire. When Shawn suggests that maybe he’s playing a chess match following the moves of a chess book, Lynn responds, “Like the car repair book that my mother never saw?”
Back at the house, Tats sits at the dining table finishing his glass of whiskey. Across from him is an empty chair, in front of which, on the table, is another glass of whiskey. He grabs the whiskey bottle, now half filled, and pours himself another drink and takes a sip. Sitting across the table from him is the Young Caucasian Blonde Haired Man.
Tats’ expression connotes grief and pain.
Shawn walks Lynn to her car that is parked in his driveway. He asks if she’s okay driving home? Lynn assures him that she is. Shawn wonders about her as it’s so late. Lynn says she’ll be fine. All she needs is a a few hours sleep. Shawn says, “Well, that be what you’ll get.” Lynn gets in her car and then says her check engine light is on! Shawn squints, puts his head through her window to look, and says, “What?” Lynn turns and places her hand behind his neck and pulls him in for a passionate kiss. After releasing him she turns the key and the engine starts. “I guess my check engine light isn’t on!” She smiles and then reverses her car out and then drives off. Shawn raises his hand as he watches her leave and then looks at his hand before putting it down and chuckling to himself.
Back at the house, Tats continues to see the Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man sitting in the chair looking back at him. But as Tats continues to drink his whiskey Seichi now appears in the chair. “Don’t move, Tats,” Seichi says, “Just let them pass.” Tats, with tears welling in his eyes, takes another gulp of his whiskey. He starts to talk to Seichi. “Easy for you to say, Seichi. But they’re not leaving. He’s not leaving. He’s coming up here!” Tats leaves and goes to his bedroom. He opens the closet door and reaches up for the box on the top shelf. He brings it to the bed and opens it up. Inside we see a knife. Tats stumbles through the hallway holding the knife. As he passes Ryan sticks his head out his room watching Tats walk back to the dining room.
Lynn’s car pulls into the driveway. As she approaches the front door she hears Tats’ muffled voice, “You’re dead! You cannot come back! I’m going to KILL you!” Lynn quickly goes to the door and enters during a moment of chaos. As she sees standing before her, Ryan, who looks towards the dining table. She follows Ryan’s gaze to Tats. He is alternately wielding his knife in the air and pointing it at an object across the table that appears only in his mind. Lynn talks to Tats and momentarily he breaks from his trance. She asks him to put the knife down. He obliges largely because he takes another mouthful of whiskey. Lynn gingerly makes her way to the table and picks up the knife.
On the streets leading to Tat’s house a car races by. It’s Shawn, having been called by Lynn. He arrives in the driveway and gets out where he’s met by a worried Lynn. Shawn asks her where’s the knife. Lynn says she locked it in her car. Shawn says that’s good and proceeds to lead her back into the house. There he sees Tats sitting despondently at the dining table. Shawn approaches him and sits across from him. They proceed to talk and Shawn finally convinces Tats to tell his story, and as he does, we go back in time through a flashback sequence, to see what he is saying. Tats explains that he and Seichi were doing reconnaissance when they came upon a group of 20 Germans heading to the front. They took cover. Seichi behind a tree further up the hill, and Tats behind some bushes. Then one of the Germans approaches two others smoking cigarettes and they give him something from the back of a truck. They gesture for him to go up the hill. The German approaches exactly where Tats is and as he is unraveling what it is that he has, he notices Tats right in front of him. As he turns to call out to the rest of the Germans, Tats sticks his knife into his back, killing him instantly and pulling him inside of the bushes. After the rest of the Germans leave, Tats takes off the German’s helmet and reveals that he has just killed a young boy, possibly 16 years of age. He has blond hair and the object that he was unraveling was a chocolate candy bar. As he stared back at the dead boy in shock, Seichi told him, “Shikata Ga Nai.”
Shawn interprets the phrase, “Cannot be helped.” Lynn and Ryan come up to Tats and hug him. Tats confesses that he has lived with that memory ever since that day. Shawn comments, “Well, Mr. Kaneshiro, I’d say that’s long enough.” Later the four of them stand around a foot deep hole that has been dug in the backyard. Sean says a prayer that asks God to let Tats forgive himself. Tats then symbolically drops the knife into the hole and Sean uses a shovel to cover it with the dirt he had unearthed. The four of them partake in a group hug.
The next day, Tats, Lynn, and Shawn sit on the couch watching Ryan do his acting monologue from “Network.” He does it well and the trio applaud. The phone rings and Lynn answers it. She then tells Tats it’s Mr. Tanioka from the 442nd club. Tats talks to Tanioka and asks if it’s not too late to get tickets to the 442nd luncheon. He’s told it’s no problem and as he hangs up he sees that Lynn has been eavesdropping. Tats tells her he ordered four tickets for the luncheon and that he hopes everyone would want to go. Lynn expresses her happiness and they embrace.
On another day in the morning the four of them are in the driveway getting ready to leave in separate cars. Shawn is taking Ryan fishing, while Lynn is taking Tats to his doctor’s appointment. Lynn asks if anyone checked the mail yet and Tats says he’ll do so. Tats goes to the mailbox, takes out the mail, and then looks at both ends of the street. There he sees no visions of the Young Caucasian Blond Haired Man or of Seichi. It is nothing but a usual weekend day. He smiles to himself and then goes to Lynn’s car and gets in. Shawn drives off in one direction and Lynn drives off in another direction. A superimposition appears on the screen: In 2019, of the more than 14,000 men of the 442nd RCT who were in WWII, it is estimated that less than 400 survive. Many of whom have never shared their stories.
On July 16, 2022, the Shikata Ga Nai production filmed a number of scenes involving Denise-Aiko Chinen, who plays Lynn Matsuda, the daughter of central character Tatsuo “Tats” Kaneshiro, and Seth Okumura, who plays Ryan, Lynn’s son and Tats’ grandson. A behind-the-scenes photo appears at left. The shoot took place at the residence of Gary and Marlyn Okuda in Honolulu, Hawaii, up in the hills of St. Louis Heights. The scenes shot reflected the last of those involving actors who are non-union. The rest of the scenes going forward involve SAG-AFTRA actors for which it is planned that filming will ensue on selected days with the intent of wrapping principal photography by the end of 2022.
BTS – Maximizing Time: Mark Mic’s Aiko While She Does Devon’s Makeup (Courtesy Steven Dillard)
Of course, a funny thing happened along the way. In filing the SAG-AFTRA application, it was discovered that feature films could no longer be produced under the New Media Production category, something that YBS had done on five previous SAG-AFTRA productions. In addition, it was learned that additional SAG-AFTRA changes required the contracting of an established entertainment payroll company, which in turn required additional short-term and project-specific liability and auto insurance coverage. The end result was a projected next shoot date of August 6th never materialized as it took nearly four months to satisfy all requirements in order to finally gain SAG-AFTRA sanction.
BTS – The “Shawn To The Rescue” Scene: Eric Directs Devon & Aiko (Courtesy Steven Dillard)
The first subsequent production happened on December 3rd, 2022, and involved all the scenes involving Allan Okubo (as Seichi Mochizuki). Accordingly, this included the chipping golf balls scene, the playing chess scene, the opening mailbox scene, the nighttime war reminiscing scene, the vision of Seichi shot, and the beach scene (photo left). The latter, filmed on the property of Roy Kajiuye, was timed to film during the magic hour of the setting sun. But delayed by cloud cover and intermittent showers, the crew came close to throwing in the towel. However, as if by fate, a pocket of sunlight opened up just in time to get the scene shot, with the last take happening literally as the light turned to dark.
BTS – Set The Shot: Denny, Mark & Christine Capture A Car Traveling Shot (Courtesy Steven Dillard)
The next shoot, January 7th, 2023, was beset with challenges. Steven Dillard, who would run second camera, initially tested positive for COVID during the SAG-AFTRA mandated PCR test. But a retest the day before cleared him, and a subsequent day of test showed him to be fine. Lead actor Dann Seki (Tats), however, while initially passing the PCR test, then tested positive with two self tests. Hence he could not be present, and the day was initially considered lost. But everyone improvised and filled the schedule with scenes involving Denise Aiko Chinen (Lynn) and Devon Nekoba (Shawn) that were originally scheduled for future shoots. Both (photo right) were outstanding and the shoot was saved.
Steven Dillard On Second Camera
A follow up shoot on January 14th, 2023 had to be canceled when Dann Seki continued to test positive for COVID. As such, the team attempted to shoot on another day before Seth Okumura left back for college in New York on January 17th. As Seth had family events on the 15th, that day was ruled out. So the 16th became the fall back and for a time it looked possible as Dann reported that his self test looked negative on the night of the 15th. But two tests he took very early in the morning of the 16th showed positive, and hence, this shoot had to be canceled as well. Thus, new shoot dates would now have to be scheduled, which included the prospect of flying Seth back during his college spring break.
BTS – Watching As The “Lynn & Shawn TV Dinner” Scene Is Filmed (Courtesy Christine Tsuzaki)
The production returned to shooting on February 4th, 2023, and got all of the Lynn visits Shawn at his house scenes. Martine Aceves-Foster allowed the use of her house in Kailua to serve as Shawn’s house. Devon Nekoba (as Shawn Saiki) and Denise Aiko Chinen (as Lynn Matsuda) maneuvered through a ton of dialogue with expert precision, communicating the critical background information about the 442 experience in their TV dinner scenes. Although the shoot took place during a period of prolonged bad weather around the island, the night spared the rain long enough for the team to also get in both the front door and driveway (see inset photo courtesy Steven Dillard) exterior scenes.
The Shawn And Lynn Meet The Waiter Scene At Helena’s Hawaiian Food (Photo Courtesy Laurie Tanoura)
On February 25th, 2023, actor and co-executive producer, Scott Ward (who flew in from Oregon the day before after a series of nerve-racking flight delays and cancellations), played the role of the waiter in the restaurant scene. Owner Craig Katsuyoshi (middle back of the group shot) graciously opened up his establishment for the shoot. Background artists Martine Aceves-Foster, Elli Brader, Linda Callison, Benjamin Koenig, Yama Radtke, and crew member Christine Tsuzaki (doubling as an extra), helped to create the proper backdrop environment. A collective sigh of relief was uttered by all after Marty Wong monitored the successful COVID testing of all present and an on-time shoot then ensued.
Mark G. (Above) & Denny (Below) Capture The “Lisa Patterson” Scene (Photo Courtesy Christine Tsuzaki)
March 10th, 2023 featured the return of Seth Okumura, flown back by YBS during his spring break from college in New York to finally wrap his scenes. This intention was a process, when looking back retrospectively, that dated all the way back to August 16th, 2022. Originally scheduled for the weekend prior, the shoot location had to be changed to the home of Martine Aceves-Foster, in Kailua, and camera and script revisions had to be made in order that the scenes would match the already established home of Tats Kaneshiro which was filmed previously at the Okuda residence in Honolulu. Dann Seki, Denise Aiko Chinen, Devon Nekoba, and Seth Okumura were called and performed exceptionally.
Seth Okumura, Denise Aiko Chinen, And Christine Tsuzaki (Photo Courtesy Chad Okumura)
On the following day, March 11th, 2023, the YBS crew returned to the Aceves-Foster home to film all of the remaining scenes involving Seth Okumura (as Ryan Matsuda). After first filming one scene during the afternoon and then waiting for darkness to arrive in order to film a final four night time scenes, the long sought after objective of filming every scene in which Seth appears – after a six month wait – was finally achieved, and not a day too soon, since Seth was bound back for college the very next day. As the clock ticked close to the midnight hour, the crew gathered to applaud Seth’s production wrap (see photo), where Director Eric Nemoto called the multi-talented young actor an “absolute pro.”
BTS – Adapting The Lynn Returns To The House Scene To A Different Location
BTS – Adapting The Ryan Checks On Tats Scene To A Different Location
Approaching a “line-in-the-sand” deadline of March 31st, 2023, when the production’s SAG-AFTRA required project liability insurance would thereafter lapse, the Shikata shoot entered its final two days still uncertain if this never-ending production could be pulled off. But fate provided a sunny day on March 26th, 2023, and the long delayed drone shots above the house of Tats (the Okuda residence) that were filmed by David Delaney came off perfectly. In the evening, the climactic scenes of Dann Seki, as Tats, wielding his knife at his demons and to Denise Aiko Chinen, as Lynn (see photo), and then finally divulging his lifelong secret to Shawn, were finally shot and held firmly in the can.
Capturing Shikata’s Climax – When Tats Reveals His Lifetime Of Guilt (photo courtesy Christine Tsuzaki)
March 27th, 2023, was the final “do or die” date for completing the shoot, given the availability of actors, the continuing threat of COVID, the prospect of inclement weather, and of course, the looming deadline of the SAG-AFTRA insurance policy lapsing at 12:01 a.m. on April 1st, 2023. A mini-victory was claimed at the point when the crew and the actors all tested negative on their COVID self tests, and the skies gave enough sunlight to film the final exterior scenes, thus assuring the shoot’s completion. The final scene, appropriately the shot of the knife – that Tats used to kill the Young German Man – being buried, culminated the production, and the crew celebrated around its grave (see photo).
The Literal Moment Of Completion – On The Spur Of The Moment Comments After “The Martini Shot”
Eric Nemoto Expresses His Thoughts & Feelings After Shikata Ga Nai Finally Wraps Principal Photography
The euphoria of completing the “never-ending” shoot now transitions to the second half, and possibly the most critical part, of filmmaking, that is, the editing of the movie. The ingredients – outstanding acting all around and great, inventive shots that were captured, both pre-planned and on the fly – are in the proverbial can, and the project now turns itself over to the capable and talented hands of editor, Denny Hironaga (see inset photo). Denny, Shikata’s DP but also an outstanding editor who has edited his own work – director of Obake Neko and Parts Of The Same Circle – now (April 2023) begins in earnest to select, cut, and compile the scenes necessary in order to bring Shikata Ga Nai to life.
A Rough Cut Drone Shot Of The Opening Scene Of Shikata Ga Nai As Filmed By David Delaney