The Hidden Battle

GENRE: Science Fiction – Fantasy

STATUS: In distribution. The Hidden Battle is available on the Roku TV channel, All Hawaii TV, YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy, and has been uploaded to the online movie distribution company, Filmhub, where it has been picked up by Amazon Prime Video, and the online movie platforms, Tubi, Lookhu, Popsy on PlexExposure+ TV, Mometu, as well as the Roku publishing company, Udu Digital, which owns the following Roku channels, Free Flix Tonight, Free Movie Channel, Free Movies Now, Free Flix Tonight (Grindhouse), Free Movie Channel Docs, Free Movie Channel Horror, Free Movie Channel Family, 24Hr Movie Channel, Leomark Studios, Free Movie Channel Retro, UDU.tv, and Movie Zyng. NOTE: The Hidden Battle would not necessarily be on all of these Udu Digital channels, but on certain ones where the focused genre of the channel may be applicable to the movie. 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.

The Hidden Battle was also accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival.

COMPANY NOTES: The Hidden Battle was the first production of what would eventually become an independent, experimental transmedia project known as Soul Saviour, which was very active for about a five year span from 2006 to 2011, at which time Soul Saviour creator, Jeff Katts, decided to direct his filmmaking focus onto specific characters he created through the project (see “The Spin Offs” below). Yellow Brick Studio has joined with Jeff to aid in the distribution of The Hidden Battle, which is a production of his company, Ventureway Entertainment.

LOGLINE: Sarah Cullen, with an abusive past, attends a woman’s group that seems to help her heal. But the reality is the group is led by demons Felucia and Trammel who are attempting to win her soul in a competition with angels Akriel and Baglis.

IMDb: The Hidden Battle

The Teaser For The Hidden Battle As Edited By Jeff Katts

The Soul Saviour Universe

It was sometime in the second half of 2003, during one of their periodic meetings at the Starbucks coffee shop located at the corner of Auahi Street and Ward Avenue (see photo) in Honolulu, Hawaii that the concept was first conceived. Jeff Katts asked friend and creative associate Eric Nemoto if he had any new ideas to base a story upon to subsequently film a video, or a short story, or maybe even a feature length movie. Eric looked around and offered up the following premise. What if the people that were sitting on the other tables around them on the outer lanai of Starbucks were not really who they appeared to be. What if, in fact, the only real people were them, and that everyone else were really demons and angels whose real purpose for sitting there was to manipulate things surrounding them so as to capture their souls to be either on the dark or light sides of the after life? While the concept had been quickly blurted out from the top of Eric’s head, Jeff took an immediate liking to it and his proverbial pen started to take notes. After further discussion they fleshed out the basic storyline which ultimately came down to angels and demons meeting to play “chess-like” games using human souls as pawns. While they both were enthused and promised to follow up on this fresh new creative idea, it was obvious that Jeff had found the inspiration he was looking for. While this did not seem like just “another idea” that was thrown out during one of their meetings, in retrospect, neither of them could have predicted how Jeff would come to transform this off-the-cuff discussion into a journey he would take to establish an amazing creative brand of entertainment. He would call this new world that he passionately would come to immerse himself into as, “The Soul Saviour Universe.”

Jeff Katts And The Insignia That Would Come To Symbolize His World Of Angels Versus Demons

It wasn’t long before Jeff sat down and let his imagination go to work. By the end of the year he and co-creator Leanne Kang-Ferrer) had penned a detailed treatment about his first heroine which served to effectively introduce the concept of angels versus demons battling behind the scenes for the souls of humans. The basic story premise being this, “God needs to put a stop to the devil, who has found an easy way to obtain earthly souls… by playing deceiving mind games with humans. He chooses as his champion, a young woman whose most important challenge to date has been to get into graduate school at Cal-Berkeley. Smart, ambitious, with a high I.Q. and a low tolerance for failure, she is approached by an angel who tells her of her real calling. After a bit of soul searching, she takes on the role that will add the greatest achievement to her already impressive resume. An action-packed thriller with a psychological edge to it, “Soul Saviour” introduces a new heroine – Rebecca Lynn Jenkins, challenger for God.” Jeff shared his treatment with Eric, who, known for his ability to take story concepts given to him by others to quickly write a full length screenplay, subsequently wrote, “Soul Saviour,” the very first story revolving around Jeff’s angels versus demons theme and finished it on February 21st, 2004 (inset photo is of Eric’s script write up).

An Overview Montage Depicting Jeff’s Universe Of Soul Saviour

To Do A Feature

Jeff’s and Eric’s collaboration had not been limited to just this script and this concept. In all, counting projects worked on prior to Soul Saviour and after, they had collaborated on 14 scripts. But of all of these, the next truly “Soul Saviour” themed script would prove to be the one that Jeff felt he wanted to turn into feature length movie. This was The Hidden Battle. See the left photo for Jeff and some of his eventual members of his cast and crew, Isis Huntsman (front left), Leanne Kang-Ferrer and daughter Ka’iulani Ferrer, Chad Burch (back left), and Tanner Henderson (back right). Making a commitment to direct the movie, Jeff set about to find supporters and to recruit his crew. In Gerard Jervis and Kalani Katsutani, Jeff found his executive producers, providing him with the project budget. Isis Huntsman would serve as his producer. Mark Ganialongo would serve as his camera operator and doubled as a grip. Greg Houtz, Isis Huntsman, and Leanne Kang-Ferrer also worked as grips. Lang Sheppard served as the production’s audio engineer, Raymond Jatico was its visual effects supervisor, and Yumiko Seki handled the special effects makeup. For his actors, Jeff managed to get some of Hawaii’s best for the lead and featured roles (actor and character in parentheses): Chad Burch (Baglis); Julia Gainey (Sarah); Tanner Henderson (Akriel); Alexander Jacob (Micah); Gretchen Nilsen (Trammel); Kyra Poppler (Felucia); Fran Rose (Amanda); Mary Ann Taheny (Mary); Maya Heacock (Trini); Danielle Diamond (Stacy/Memphthet); Lisa Nilsen (Helen/Peletra); Athena Tacoronte (Elizabeth/Yana); Sarina Smith (Flora/Rethia); and Ioulia Alcorn (Anna/Cleros). Other supporting actors included: James McGee (Bruce – Ross Store Manager); Khetphet Phagnasay (Mr. Kang); Cara Lucey (Ross Store Customer #1); Jeramey Lee (Ross Store Customer #2); Curtis Bush (Sarah’s Abusive Boyfriend #1); Kimokeo Bode (Sarah’s Abusive Boyfriend #2); Brad B. Asuncion (Sarah’s Abusive Boyfriend #3); Robert Michaels (Sarah’s Abusive Boyfriend #4); and Kekoa Vincent (Man Who Gets Bashed Outside Club). As for post-production, Jeff would handle the editing, while Zondra Tom served as his assistant editor, Mark Ganialongo was the colorist, and Aron Nelson supervised the music. Jeff, Aubrey Alen, and Lisa Nilsen, also provided their voices within certain scenes. Lastly, Kalani Katsutani was in charge of public relations, Joji Yoshida helped as a public relations consultant, and the graphic designer was Dyan L. Tanaka.

A Promotional Photo For The Hidden Battle

The Production

The Hidden Battle was produced by Jeff Katt’s Ventureway Entertainment in association with three other production companies – Adore GFX, Polarity Design Company, and Stunt Dog Productions. Principal photography took place from March to July 2005 in a number of different locations on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was Jeff’s desire, from the beginning, that upon completion, he would premiere the movie in one of the major local cinematic theaters. Hence as production ensued word got out about the ambitious filmmaker who was filming around town, creating a movie that was entirely antithetical to what Hawaii independent movies typically featured. Katts’ vision would not focus on the sand and surf of Hawaii. Rather, he focused on the wrath of demons, the faith of angels, and brought to the screen such deep-seeded issues as domestic abuse, how the innocent can be sucked into a cult, and even suicide. In fact, what resulted was a movie that went beyond its science fiction premise. The solid acting, very intimate camera angles, and even its black and white presentation, created a story filled with tension, heartache, pathos, and ultimately, redemption. Leading up to the premiere, word got out about something very interesting developing as seen through the lens of an exciting new filmmaker, and Jeff found that he was the center of attention of a press quite eager to promote his ambitious project.

The Bevy Of Newspaper Articles Which Told The Public Of Jeff Katts And The Hidden Battle

The Story Synopsis

Felucia and Trammel are two demons that roam the earth. They search for any human being of whom they can posses their soul for Satan. But for every human soul the two demons came close to obtaining, the angels, Akriel and Baglis, always ruined their task. Frustrated, Felucia and Trammel devise a plan to deceive the angels while they can get a soul. Felucia offers a “challenge” to the angels. The challenge is to save the soul of one human picked by Felucia and Trammel. The human soul must be saved before a set time and date. However, Felucia draws out a list of conditions that her, Trammel, Akriel, and Baglis must follow as part of this challenge: 1) The angels and demons cannot reveal their “true” identities to any chosen human; 2) The angels cannot perform any “miracles” of any kind. The demons cannot use “magic” of any kind; and 3) God and Satan cannot intervene during this challenge. Akriel and Baglis accept thinking this will be another failed attempt and last act of some desperate demons. However, the situation seems to be a little complicated. Felucia and Trammel choose Sarah Cullen, a young woman who has a tormented past and is having problems in her relationship with her steady boyfriend, Micah Fernandez. Micah loves Sarah, however they are both coming to a point where Sarah is having difficulty adjusting her life because of her past and Micah is trying to cope with her. Felucia and Trammel find out more information on the couple and what develops is a sinister plan to gain Sarah’s soul. It is then that Akriel and Baglis need to use their wits and persuasion to conquer over the two demons and save Sarah’s soul before it is too late. The Hidden Battle is a “Good vs. Evil” story with a “Battle of the Sexes” premise. The story also deals with how personal issues are dealt with in a person’s life that can make or break them. The final outcome is surprising and shocking as the story enfolds.

Movie Stills From The Hidden Battle

While the acting is stellar throughout, two truly outstanding performances are provided by the actors who portrayed the movie’s lovers, Julia Gainey and Alexander Jacob (promo photos appear below). Gainey captures the essence of Sarah, a woman who cannot forget her abusive past and her conflict with trusting Micah, a man she feels is too good to be true. She effectively portrays how Sarah is conflicted when infected with the brainwashing that occurs during her group meetings and powerfully shows Sarah’s grief when she realizes the unintended result of her actions. Jacob hits all the right notes in his portrayal of Micah, showing first his innocence, and then his growing confusion, and then ultimately his eternal despair. Both are magnetic, and draw the audience’s attention whenever they grace the screen. Their great performances are two of the reasons why The Hidden Battle rises above being a science fiction story, in fact becomes a great drama, and became very popular with its following.

Julia Gainey And Alexander Jacob Portray The Ill-Fated Sarah And Micah

Post-Production

Jeff completed principal photography for The Hidden Battle sometime in July of 2005. He then transitioned into the next phase, taking off his director’s hat and replacing it with his editor’s hat. Over the next year he methodically went through the processes that all editors have to go through, namely, he had to review everything he shot, cut the scenes that he wanted, place them on a timeline, create a rough cut of the movie, and then refine, refine, refine, until he achieved picture lock. Then, he went on to work on the sound, choose and include the music, made sure his credits were right, and then render a master which he ultimately felt was ready for prime time. As the fall of 2006 approached, Jeff, with assistance from his assistant editor, Zondra Tom, his colorist, Mark Ganialongo, and Aron Nelson, who supervised the music, had gotten through this process and finalized The Hidden Battle and got it ready for a public showing.

The Premiere

Jeff Katts had always intended that The Hidden Battle would be premiered in a movie theater. Towards this end he arranged for two showings (6:30 pm and 8:45 pm) at the Dole Cannery Stadium Theater #8, on Wednesday, September 20th, 2006. The event was quite unique. The distribution avenue for independent filmmakers in general, but particularly those in Hawaii, were to focus strictly on entering their movies into a variety of film festivals, and in particular the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF). While this would bring the an indie feature to the “big screen,” Jeff wanted more for his cast and crew, feeling they all deserved their own special night given all the work and dedication that went into the project to bring it to this moment. Suffice to say the evening was a great success with two very enthusiastic crowds turning out to enjoy not only a great movie, but the festivities that preceded it. Jeff thanked all his supporters and they, in turn, thanked him for giving them the opportunity to be a part of a great independent feature. Of special note, Jeff dedicated the movie to his grandparents, Dorothy Katsutani and Isao Katsutani.

The Premiere Of The Hidden Battle – September 20th, 2006

The Expanding Reach Of Soul Saviour

Jeff’s great success with The Hidden Battle would subsequently result in content related to the Soul Saviour theme appearing in a number of different creative mediums. Of the many endeavors that followed, this included animated illustrations, community outreach, a convention, a enthusiastic fan base, fashion, another feature film, film festivals, brand merchandise, music, scripts, short films, a series of live stage productions, spin-off characters that Jeff would eventually expand into another creative universe, and a web series.

Animation

A comic book version of The Hidden Battle, was created by Michelle Poppler, was created in 2006 to help with the promotions for the premiere. Another illustrator, graphic artist Alexandre Salles from Brazil, also created numerous posters that centered around the Soul Saviour theme.

The Opening Scene Of The Hidden Battle Converted To Comic Animation By Michelle Poppler

One Of Many Soul Saviour Concept Art Posters By Alexandre Salles

Community Outreach

A method of building awareness of Soul Saviour throughout the community was for the project to get involved with various groups that helped the community. So a variety of non-profit organizations were approached. One such group, the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC), dedicated to alleviating the problem of domestic abuse in Hawaii, resulted in the short film, Reach Out, written and directed by Jeff. Thus, a film with a Soul Saviour theme that became part of the overall project was also used to communicate the need for women who were the victims of violence and domestic abuse, to have the courage to seek assistance and call the DVAC helpline.

In “Reach Out,” A Soul Saviour Themed Short Film Conveys The Dangers Of Domestic Violence

Convention

Jeff’s work on his Soul Saviour projects, beginning with The Hidden Battle, would spur a number of filmmakers to work in collaboration with him to create numerous short films and videos revolving around his angels versus demons theme. Over time this resulted in a sufficient number of creative content that enabled Jeff to create his own Soul Saviour Convention, as part of the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP), in 2011. What follows is a video featuring interviews of Jeff and other members of his team who helped to make the convention a reality, as recorded by Forest Welton off of a segment of “Hawaii’s Reel Stories.” Below that is another video which promotes one of the proposed projects that was highlighted at the convention, Yokai Banisher, a Japanese spin-off of Soul Saviour, starring Mika Murakoshi as Mika Sakiyo. Yokai was Jeff’s attempt to expand the project to different venues and markets in Japan and the rest of the United States.”

Jeff’s Vision Of A Soul Saviour Anime/Comic Convention Achieves Fruition

Japanese Model & Actress Mika Murakoshi Discusses Her Character In Yokai Banisher

Fanfare

The reach of the Soul Saviour Project created quite a devoted following of fans who attended the myriad of project events ranging from film festivals, premieres of feature length movies and short films, a convention, and three produced stage plays. They served to promote the events with great enthusiasm, where they often wore Soul Saviour attire and displayed and distributed Soul Saviour promotional material. But of all of Jeff’s Soul Saviour followers, there was no fan more enthusiastic and contributing than Diana Garigin, a young, beautiful 19-year-old woman from Waianae, Hawaii, whose life was full and happy but all so very, very short (see “In Memoriam” at the end of this page).

The Sampling Of The “Legion” Of Loyal Soul Saviour Fans

Fashion

The Soul Saviour project also delved into the world of fashion as it provided a chance for up-and-coming fashion designers to create a line of Soul Saviour wardrobe. Designers, inspired by the angels versus demons concept, created apparel that blended good and evil symbols which could be worn both in the productions itself as well as to various special events.

The Soul Saviour Look

Feature Films

The Hidden Battle was Jeff’s first feature length movie that delved into the supernatural, but it certainly wouldn’t be his last, which would come to include new movie concepts he pursued later (see “The Spin-Offs” below). He followed this up with The Soul Saviour Chronicles, which he again premiered at the Dole Cannery Cinemas on September 25th, 2008. The movie received a promotion in the Honolulu Star Bulletin on September 19th, 2008, by “Screen Time” reporter Katherine Nichols (photo right).

Isle film focuses on war between good and evil: “The Soul Saviour Chronicles,” a locally produced indie film about the fundamental war between good and evil, will screen at the Regal Dole Cannery Theatres at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday. The man behind the project, Jeff Katts, says he hopes to entertain audiences and give them something to discuss after the movie, which stars Olena Rubin and Caroline Chapman. Its prequel, “The Hidden Battle,” screened at Dole Cannery in September 2006. “Soul Saviour Chronicles” tells several stories of how God chooses average humans to save the souls of those influenced by demons. Despite extensive references to God and Satan, Katts has said in past interviews with the Star-Bulletin that religion is not the central theme, though religious undertones always permeate his films. There’s also a horror element, with wild, gory makeup and “Exorcist” type voices. Katts, who shoots, directs and produces his films, has said a polished look was not his intention. Instead, he strives for the appearance of a “supernatural reality show.”

 

A “Supernatural Reality Show” Introduces The Five Furies Of The Soul Saviour Chronicles

Film Festivals

Short films, music videos and experimental videos based on Soul Saviour – the supernatural concept conceived by Jeff, which subsequently inspired a number of other filmmakers to produce videos in the same genre – were part of two film festivals that were staged in 2009 and 2010, both at the Consolidated Ward Theaters in Honolulu, Hawaii. Filmmakers who participated in the festivals produced their videos in accordance with Jeff’s general theme of ordinary people chosen by God to vie against a demon to save human souls.

The News Segment On The Soul Saviour Film Festival By Hawaii’s ABC News Affiliate Station KITV

Merchandising

A variety of promotional items were also created to test the Soul Saviour brand on the market place. Images pertaining to super-hero angels conquering the forces of darkness, as well as the Soul Saviour insignia, found its way atop a variety of apparel and coffee mugs.

The Soul Saviour Brand As Featured On Apparel And Coffee Mugs

Music

Two songs were created that revolved around the Soul Saviour theme. “Stray” by Carmen Ah San, and “I’m Not Alone,” by Sherry Eatmon. Both songs were featured in the 2009 Soul Saviour Film Festival. “I’m Not Alone,” was also an integral part of the Soul Saviour themed play, Dancing Between Heaven & Hell, in which Sherry proved to be a terrific highlight with both her singing and appearing as an actress in a featured role.

“I’m Not Alone” By Sherry Eatmon – The Theme Song For The Soul Saviour Chronicles

In addition, theme music was created for three Soul Saviour projects: The Five Furies, Yokai Banisher, and Renegade Angels. This music was composed by Gerard Gonsalves. To listen to any of these music pieces click on the titles to each theme below.

                                 The Five Furies                      Yokai Banisher                    Renegade Angels

Scripts

Jeff’s and Eric’s collaboration to create the initial Soul Saviour script (see “The Soul Saviour Universe” above), would not stop there. All told there were eight scripts that were originally conceived by Jeff which centered around his angels versus demons concept (often with creative contributions by Mark Ganialongo) and co-written with Eric. These were Soul Saviour (2004), The Hidden Battle (2005), The Fatal Journey (2005), Realm Of Choices (2006), Dream Saviour (2007), The Demonic Revenge (2007), Ultio Venia (2009), and Dancing Between Heaven & Hell (2009). The Hidden Battle became the produced feature film that this web page chronicles, while Dream Saviour, Ultio Venia, and Dancing Between Heaven & Hell became stage plays produced by the Hawaii community theater TAG – The Actors’ Group (see “TAG Dark Night Series”). Synopses of each script and information about the writers can be found (alphabetically listed) in the Yellow Brick Studio Screenplay Database.

The Write Up For The Fatal Journey – One Of Eight Soul Saviour Scripts Written

Short Films

The Hidden Battle went on to be the inspiration for a number of Soul Saviour themed short films. In fact, other filmmakers produced sufficient video content which eventually enabled Jeff to create film festivals centering around the angels versus demons premise (see Film Festivals previously). Malaga (Robert & Daniel Poleki), Seedecension (Jos Raquel), Reach Out (Jeff Katts), Misguided (Tony Silva), Defective Angel (Sean Terry), Empty Arms (Renee Garcia), Nate Browne (Benjermin Keating), Stray (Carmen Ah San), Battle of the Minions (Aaron Yamasato), and I’m Not Alone (Sherry Eatmon), were part of the 2009 film festival. The 2010 film festival featured, The Angel (Paul Hough), Greed (Ali Sadegiani), Misguided (Tony Silva), Desoul (Blane Daydasco), Outside In (Chris Keefer & Ryan Litton), Vampire (Anjj Lee), The Casting Call (Jose Corpuz), Perceptions (Adriane Flower), and Battle of the Minions: Higher Salvation (Grant Miyashiro). Jeff also personally filmed and directed (or was closely associated with the production as a producer) four Soul Saviour short films, Renegade Angels, Reach Out, Battle Of The Minions (both Reach and Minions were part of the 2009 film festival), and The Five Furies. Following below is a promotional video about the development of Battle Of The Minions, which Jeff wrote and produced, and then recruited good friend and fellow filmmaker, Aaron Yamasato, to direct.

Battle Of The Minions – Martial Arts Meets Soul Saviour

TAG Dark Night Series

A dark night, in theater jargon, is when there is nothing happening in a theater, hence the lights on the stage and the theater in general are “dark.” Inserting additional productions during available dark nights benefits a theater for it has the potential to bring in added revenue which had not been originally anticipated when the season schedule was developed. It also provides the creators of the dark night productions a venue to showcase their work. To use a couple of idioms that reflect what dark nights mean to the regular season of any theater, they would be, “Like icing on the cake,” and the prospect of helping the box office financially, well, it certainly, “Couldn’t hurt.”

Jeff Katts and Eric Nemoto collaborated on three “dark night” productions produced by the community theater Eric founded, TAG – The Actors’ Group, that centered around Jeff’s Soul Saviour theme. These three productions were Dream Saviour (2007), Ultio Venia (2008), and Dancing Between Heaven & Hell (2009). Dream was staged in TAG’s original location on Keawe Street (entry way and logo above) in the industrial district of Kaka’ako in Honolulu, while UV and Dancing were produced in TAG’s theater in the Mendonca Building in Chinatown on Smith Street (see below for a shot of the building) when the theater relocated there briefly from 2008-2010. (Note: The background of TAG can be found in the history of Yellow Brick Studio in the About section of this website) In the development of each play, Jeff would provide a detailed treatment of the story idea, which Eric would then develop a script to adapt it for the stage. Jeff would serve as producer and Eric would direct. Both Jeff and Eric would work together to cast the actors. Eric would generally ask the assistance of the TAG crew to help him stage the production.

Production of dark nights at TAG typically has to occur around two blocks of time. First, there are the nights that are not utilized once a play opens. TAG’s typical performance schedule would have its opening weekend start with a Friday night opening, continue on Saturday night, and then have a Sunday matinee. This would then typically be followed by three additional weeks of performances where shows would occur on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and Sunday matinees. This four-week run of a play (occasionally, a play would be limited to three weeks), would generally mean that the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights during the run of the play would be available for use since once a production began, the actors and crew involved, having rehearsed for a good six-weeks (the typical recommended preparation time), no longer need to rehearse. The second window of time is the one to two weeks right after a play closes (with a Sunday Matinee) at which time the set is immediately dismantled and the stage is completely cleared. While construction on the set for the next production could begin immediately, typically it isn’t. As there is ample time given in TAG’s regular season schedule. At the earliest, construction on the set would begin after a week of the stage being completely cleared. Hence, these open windows of time provide an opportunity for additional productions to utilize the stage.

Of course, there are challenges. If a dark night is produced during the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays of the current run of a play, it has to tell its story utilizing the set design that is part of the play that continues during its scheduled run. If the dark night is produced during the week after the closing of a play and prior to any work being done on the set for the next play, then it has to tell its story using an entirely empty stage. In both cases, the dark night production has to deal with one incredibly challenging scenario – how to stage a two act play while having very limited access to the stage on which the play will be performed. It requires that rehearsals be conducted off-site, after which the production must quickly transition to the set that typically actors have to perform on in just a few days, if not, on the very next day. In the staging of the five dark nights, four occurred during the run of the play, and one happened at the close of one play and prior to building the set for the next.

Dream Saviour

In 2007, having well established his Soul Saviour concept, Jeff Katts approached Eric Nemoto, the founder and president of the community theater, TAG – The Actors’ Group, with a question, “Could one of his “angels versus demons” concepts be done as a live play?” It was a fortuitous occurrence for it just so happened that Eric was thinking up ways to bring in added revenue for the still fledgling theater who was continuing to play to audiences in the small confines of the original Yellow Brick Studio on Keawe Street. At that time in its evolution, TAG was still living a pretty much “hand-to-mouth” existence, for which any income made in a month usually went immediately to pay for the following month’s rent. As such, any added shows that could be produced during one of TAG’s “dark nights” was viewed as extra income that could support TAG’s efforts to stay afloat. And what would actually prove to be TAG’s very first “dark night,” Jeff brought to Eric a treatment he called Dream Saviour, which told the story of ex-drug addict Tony, who is visited by angels who tell him that he must do battle against demons in order to save his best friend, Bernard, who is being tormented by them while he is asleep. Almost serendipitously, the play in which this production had to utilize the set for was The Baltimore Waltz, which featured a bed, was perfect for the character of Tony’s friend, who spends nearly the entire play in bed. Eric subsequently wrote the script, adapting Jeff’s treatment knowing basically what the set was going to look like. The actors that Jeff and Eric were able to get to fulfill the roles including Thomas Smith (Tony), Brandon Sutherlin (Bernard), Gretchen Nilsen (Lauren), Sam Polson (Dr. T. Perailaga), Elizabeth May (Nurse A. Icelav), Robert Stevens (Ecanus), and Curtis Duncan (Haniel). Gretchen, Sam, and Elizabeth played the dual roles of, respectively, being Tony’s girlfriend and the demon Trammel, the doctor treating Bernard and the demon Agaliarept, and the nurse who was also the demon Valecia. Robert and Curtis played the avenging angels. Admittedly, this being the first dark night, and also, the first real science fiction and fantasy story ever staged at TAG, no one really knew how this would turn out, even Eric and Jeff. But given that the set made sense, so did the story, the heavy metal rock music blared a new type of sound that had never accompanied a TAG play before, the production turned into a wild and successful surprise, particularly because the actors went all in to portray their characters. Dream Saviour played just two nights, September 25th and 26th, 2007, but it remains one of the most successful dark nights every staged by TAG, and the very first of Jeff’s “angels versus demons” themed stories to be staged as a play.

Dream Saviour – The Angels & Demons Descend Upon TAG For The First Time

Ultio Venia

Ultio Venia or UV as everyone eventually referred to it, began with Jeff Katts again. Given the great success of the previous year’s Dream Saviour,  Jeff asked if Eric would want to stage another Soul Saviour dark night and offered up The Demonic Revenge as a possibility. Eric and Jeff met on this in the early spring of 2008 and because it was so far in advance, Eric basically told Jeff that he’d do it, but then focused on other things. As it got closer to the fall, Jeff would ask, “So are you going to do it?” Eric reassured him that he would. He would go to the TAG board to approve the production during the week immediately after The History Boys closed, which was scheduled for October 26th, 2008. This was about July or so and Jeff was a little concerned as to where they would get the actors. Eric assured him not to worry, that the actors would be recruited from a combination of: a) TAG actors he knew; b) beginning actors in his acting class with the model and talent agency, ADR; c) actors that Jeff might refer; and d) others they would find along the way. In rewriting the script Eric purposely introduced many more characters on the premise that more in the cast would manifest into more friends and family ending up in the risers. The objective, after all, for dark nights was to make extra money. The purpose was to increase the number of characters from around a dozen to 26 all told. True, some parts were so small that actors could’ve been used to double up on roles, but why bother? The more characters, particularly new actors who would be given their first taste of the stage, meant the likelihood that more friends and relatives would come out and support the play. This proved tactically prophetic. Ultio Venia – a play about a couple who inadvertently assists in the exorcism of a young woman who is possessed and draws the wrath of the dark side, which brings demons to arrange a game with angels for their souls – played from October 28, 2008 to November 1, 2008 (five performances) to very good audiences, 30-40, and on the last night 60. And beyond that the mixture of actors and crew came together incredibly well, becoming a creative family, with everyone professed they had the time of their lives. A lowdown on the production cast and crew follows. From TAG came Sam Polson (Agaliarept), Frankie Enos (Anahita), Jan McGrath (Narrator), Curtis Duncan (Haniel), Ona Marie (Ruth/Armatt), Mane (Deumos), Thomas Smith (Todd), Mike Mazzola (Mr. Flynn), Omar Williams (Big Dawg), Jeanne Wynne Herring (Photos), Thomas Tochiki (Lights), Liz Kane (Stage Manager/Voice Of Mrs. Emery) and Maseeh Ganjali (Dealer). The ADR actors included Deanne August (Lilly/Succubus), Candy Condos (Naamah), Brandon Toma (Ryan), David Baquiran (Eddie), Aaron Madriaga (Thug 1), Karl Olsen (Thug 2), Mahealani Alvarez (Nurse) and Debby Shin (Julie). Through Jeff came Renee Garcia (Reina), Mark Ganialongo (Jared), Debbie Pearson (Maybel) and Sherry Eatmon (whose “Soul Saviour” inspired songs were used for the preshow, intermission, and curtain call). Others I recruited and who also popped up included Curtis Washburn (Pastor Peter), Alana Souza (Jessica/Stagehand), Frank Vargo (through Debby, Man/Monster), Jake Shin (through Debby, Orderly/Stagehand), Kelvin Ngo (through Debby, Orderly/Stagehand), Hala Abdulhaq (through Renee, Stagehand), Carol Egan (through Jan, choreographer), and Gary Okuda (projection and sound). UV utilized the projector and scrim that was part of The History Boys, which was the plan, and was greatly bolstered by the following: a) rewriting the script to induce pure drama and give a greater role to Curtis D. (the overall star); b) changing the title from “Demon Revenge” to Ultio Venia (which in Latin means “Revenge Grace”); c) Jeanne’s haunting photography; d) Gary’s incredible work in putting together the montages with music; e) the awesome music, which was from Gretchen Nilsen’s collection, that was used in Dream Saviour; f) rehearsing off site, Chaminade (via the help of Brother Gary Morris) and Kennedy Theater (via Thomas S.) and actually pulling it together in two manic rehearsal days at Mendonca (10/25 & 10/26); g) fantastic performances by all, particularly Renee (who made every rehearsal), Curtis D. (who was his usual outstanding self), and Deanne (who became the perfect sexy foil); h) Liz’s astute stage managing; and i) Eric’s direction in an absolute organized fashion. The result was a resounding multi-media success. As Jeff said during the closing night party, “I can’t recall any play that incorporated dance (Deanne, Mane, Candy), photo/video montages, singing (Renee), and of course, acting.” In addition to the creative successes, the production brought in $1,500, which was more than most regular productions brought in (TAG was still a struggling operation at the time). Overall, Ultio Venia , is still considered the most inventive (perhaps even outlandish), most talked about, the most remembered, and by far, the most successful of all the dark nights produced by TAG.

Ultio Venia – A Multi-Media Production Success Unmatched By Any Other TAG Dark Night

Dancing Between Heaven & Hell

This dark night, staged in 2009, featuring Jeff’s Soul Saviour storyline, again was conceived by Jeff and adapted for the stage by Eric.  In retrospect, it was an incredibly ambitious and highly creative production, that attempted to surpass the incredibly successful Ultio Venia, came close, but might have fell a bit short. Basically, while UV turned out to be a wonderful collaboration of all the participants involved, Dancing did feature some pitfalls. The back story on how everything evolved included these developments: 1) After the great success of UV, Eric had advised Jeff that he felt he was frankly over doing any more demons versus angels plays. Not because he didn’t like doing them, but because he felt they couldn’t do it any better than UV; 2) But then Jeff tossed him an intriguing creative challenge, “What about the idea of doing a Soul Saviour “musical?” He also mentioned if another dark night was done, he had the commitments of two actors who Eric considered two of the best and who were in past dark nights, Curtis Duncan and Renee Garcia, former Miss Hawaii Ashley Layfield (who could dance), and singer Sherry Eatmon who could write some original songs and also be a featured singer if Eric could write a part for her and coach her on acting; 3) Armed with what he thought were very interesting components, and “also” Jeff stating that he had a benefactor who would contribute money that would make it absolutely cost free to TAG, Eric agreed to write, produce, and direct the show; 4) Eric advised Brad Powell and the TAG Board that they would do the dark night at “no cost” to TAG and therefore it would make the theater a hefty bundle. The posed arrangements garnered an immediate approval for 12 performances (within the window of opening on October 5th and closing on October 25th), which would become the most performances of any dark night ever produced; 5) But then over the ensuing months Jeff found out that his funding source was having a change of heart, asking if he could reduce the donation, then asking for some share of any revenue that came in, and then pulling out altogether. Hence, what was originally thought to be a “can’t miss” financial boon for TAG, was now uncertain. The information, while very disappointing, couldn’t be worried about at the time since the decision to produce the play had been made; 6) Eric also had his own scheduling challenges. He had been cast in TAG’s Miso, and really couldn’t devote much time to writing until the play closed on August 16th. Thus, the writing of the play, which normally would have occurred during the early to mid part of the summer, had to wait until Miso was completed. In fact, Eric wrote the entire script during a “staycation” with his wife at the Pacific Beach Hotel during August 21st through the 23rd (finally done on August 24th). What came out was a script featuring the concept that Reina (Renee) and Jacqueline (Ashley) exist simultaneously in different time eras just like the movie “Frequency.” This basic story premise had to be refined so that it could utilize the set that was designed for the play in which we would stage the dark night, Night of January 16th, which was basically a courtroom. Once the other actors and dancers were cast and a manic rehearsal schedule created, finding rehearsal sites would be a constant challenge as many actors and dancers would often miss their appointed times. To help pull the dancing together, Eric was able to recruit Brad to create and direct the choreography and his participation was invaluable. Other challenges for Jeff and Eric arose, not the least of which was the inability for the massive cast, 34, to actively recruit an audience, thus relegating the production to bring in – after all expenses – a mere $500, But suffice it to say, the production was pulled off, and while it did not match the overall acclaim of UV, it is still considered a huge success, simply because of the ambitiousness of what they attempted to do, the introduction of a lot more participants to TAG, and actually having the audacity to stick it out and to get the production done. The characters in Dancing (and the actors who portrayed them) were as follows: Haniel (Curtis Duncan); Reina Barron (Renee Garcia); Gaap (Thomas Smith); Jacqueline Claxton (Ashley Layfield); Succubus (Deanne August); Didi (Sherry Eatmon); Ray (Teddy Wells); Jenny (Sasha Dominy); Pastor Jared (Mark Ganialongo); the Judge and the Casting Agent (David “Kawika” Williams); Demon Judge 1 (Walter Bermoy); Demon Judge 2 (Lauren Terukina); Attorney (Steve Ando Meacham); Angel Judge (Tracy Hill); Angel Prosecutor (Peter Stone); Bailiff (Frank Vargo); Stenographer (Mercedes Garigin); Agaliarept – Voice (Sam Polson); Armatt – Voice (Ona Marie); Anahita – Voice (Frankie Enos); Jacqueline’s Husband (Dan Hartenstein); Jacqueline’s Daughter (Rachel Hartenstein); and the Dancers (Dorie Sanborn, Demetrius “Pono” Jones, Denika Martin, Rose Wolfe, Shane Stewart, Nicholas Berard, Diana Garigin, Amanda Garigin, Nicolas Valdez, Kjirsten Corson, Christine Luck).

Dancing Between Heaven & Hell – Stretching The Envelope Of TAG Dark Nights

The Spin-Offs

Over time, a recurring character who began to appear in a number of Jeff’s Soul Saviour projects, would eventually transition his attention towards promoting new storylines through a variety of creative mediums involving new characters – specifically Jackie Claxton and Katie Kosmic – heroines battling supernatural forces. “But that,” as they say, “Is another story.”

Jackie Claxton & Katie Kosmic – Jeff Katts’ Supernatural Heroines

Web Series

Jeff created a web series, The Renegade Angels, based on characters that spun off of his Jackie Claxton Project. However it is also listed here because the concept of these renegade angel women, good in martial arts, was initiated as part of his Soul Saviour Universe. Seven webisodes were filmed and available for viewing on Facebook. Featured below are two of the webisodes. The first features webisode number 4, where Scylencia (Anica Brown), Raquella (Molly Gresham), and Aralyn (Lisa Morisheta) have a meeting of what dangers lie ahead of them. In the second, Forest Welton, as Crisel the Demon (Forest Welton), once again tries to antagonize Scylencia (Anica Brown) in Webisode number 7.

The Angels Plot Their Next (Bleep) Move Against The Five Furies

Scylencia – One Tough And Beautiful Renegade Angel

IN MEMORIAM

Diana Garigin was a young woman from Waianae who responded to a Craigslist audition ad that was put forth asking for dancers to be a part of Dancing Between Heaven & Hell, the dark night stage production for the Honolulu community theater, TAG – The Actors’ Group, back in 2009. She became a dancer in the show and was integral in getting all of the dancers that were needed as she recruited all of her family and friends to be in it as well. Unbeknownst to anyone during the production she had lived with cancer ever since she was 13. But at the time it was in remission. But after the production, her cancer, leukemia, returned. Diana “loved” being part of Jeff Katts’ Soul Saviour projects that were being produced and was looking forward to playing a lead role in a feature that he was proposing and it kept her going. Jeff became a great friend of Diana and her family, and visited her in the hospital, and created many movie posters of Diana starring in his next movie. But in spite of her amazing upbeat view of life, Diana succumbed to the disease and died in 2011 at the all too young age of 19. It was a loss taken hard by many.

Soul Saviour’s Greatest Fan – Diana R. Garigin, September 14, 1991 – June 17, 2011

Paraphrased From Jeff Katts’ Own Words: Diana was a beautiful young woman who was energetic, enthusiastic, was always smiling, and was always ready to try new things. She loved being part of Soul Saviour, loved being in the stage play, Dancing Between Heaven & Hell and was part of the Jackie Claxton (a Soul Saviour heroine) Fan Club. She never complained, always had a lot of compassion for everyone, and no one will ever forget her smile. First time I met her and her family was at the Nimitz Zippy’s Restaurant and I found that she did her research about Soul Saviour. Soul Saviour influenced her life, as far as her being on stage and on film. I filmed a short scene with her, Ashley Layfield, and Walter Bermoy at Renee Garcia’s house. She was a very great actress, who took direction very well. I wanted her to be the next Jackie Claxton and made a Barbie Doll for her which was dressed up as the character of Jackie. I found out later that in her rough stages of her chemotherapy, she kept the doll on her shelf at home. The doll kept her spirits up, for it was the character she could have been. She wrote about it in her diary. Her funeral was an experience I will never forget. Family members kept thanking me and I didn’t know what I did. There were Soul Saviour pictures on her casket with illustrations done of her by Alexandre Salles of Brazil, which in her last days helped to keep her spirits up. I remember the last conversation I had with her. I told her that no matter what happened, “At least you got to live your dream. You were on stage and on the big movie screen.” She said to me, “I know.” Diana R. Garigin was very brave and she accepted her fate and put up a fight as much as she could. Her courage inspired me to continue with my filmmaking. I owe a lot to Diana and I will never forget her.

Diana Garigin – The Beautiful Young Woman Who Lives On As The Most Loved Soul Saviour Of All

For information on other movies produced by Yellow Brick Studio / LegacyVision Films click HERE.

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