Tis The Season - A Hawaiian Christmas Story

GENRE: Family Drama.

STATUS: In addition to being available in its entirety on this web page, Tis The Season – A Hawaiian Christmas Story is available on YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy, on the public Roku TV channel, All Hawaii TV, and can be borrowed from worldcat.org, which is a global catalog of library materials and is a great resource for locating unique, trustworthy materials that one often can’t find anywhere except in a library. Tis The Season was also accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival.

LOGLINE: Facing economic hardships, a little girl and her parents learn the real meaning of Christmas with the guidance of a magical lady.

IMDb: Tis The Season – A Hawaiian Christmas Story

This movie was filmed by Jon Brekke in 1992 and fully completed in 1994. Jon also co-wrote the script with Hollywood screenwriter, Ed Rothkowitz (Chicago Hope, Picket Fences, et. al.), and with the support of Executive Producer Bill Finnegan (the producer of the original “Hawaii Five-O” television series), produced this heartwarming movie that eventually was premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival, was subsequently aired on the Hawaii ABC station (KITV), and won the Children’s Jury Award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

The Promotional Spot For Tis The Season Which Aired On Hawaii Television

About The Movie

Kimo, a dedicated worker at the sugar plant, is stunned when he is laid off right before Christmas. As he had dedicated his life to the company, it leaves him a bitter man. His wife must work double shifts to help the family out and this makes Kimo only more angry and depressed. As the days pass the future looks more and more bleak. But eventually they and their daughter, Heather, learn the real meaning of Christmas as they manage to persevere as a family while they face their economic hardships. Their struggle through adversity eventually takes a turn for the better when they meet, and are guided by a magical lady, Mrs. Livingston, who sells holiday wreaths at a roadside stand. Is Mrs. Livingston an angel? Or is she a wondrous spirit called “Mother Christmas?” We the audience are left to our own interpretations, but either way, she manages to somehow affect events by eventually helping to find a job for Kimo and the puppy that Heather always wanted. In the end we realize that the holiday season reminds us that what really is important is spending time together as a family.

Tis The Season is a wonderful story that features a terrific cast with stellar performances by its actors. Young Mindy Ballesteros plays innocent Heather, Carmella Barut plays her concerned mother, Nalani, and Ray Bumatai, playing Kimo, hits all the right notes as the worried and embittered father who ultimately finds his way. The movie also benefits from the casting of Hollywood veteran actress, June Lockhart (pictured at left), who plays Mrs. Livingston. Lockhart, who many may remember from her television days playing Ruth Martin on Lassie (1958-1964), and Maureen Robinson on Lost In Space (1965-1968), is wonderful as the magical, mysterious Mrs. Livingston, and was a real casting coup for the production.

Also of note, the movie features a poignant performance by the late, multi-talented Ray Bumatai (pictured at right), earlier in an acting career that spanned movies, television, and stage. Bumatai, whose dedication to acting would make him a Hawaii performing arts legend, would pass away in 2005 from brain cancer. He is known to have continued to play his role in a stage production when his affliction made him temporarily blind during a performance in which he chose to continue acting when he should have immediately checked himself into a hospital. His actions coined a phrase within the local theater community, “Ray Would Stay” – patterned after the iconic tribute to local surf legend, Eddie Aikau (“Eddie Would Go”) – as a testimony to Bumatai’s total dedication to his craft. Noted Honolulu Columnist, Lee Cataluna, wrote of this incident: Bumatai’s Dedication Is No Act

Tis The Season Official Trailer

Tis The Season was shot in 35 mm and at the time of its filming enjoyed a fairly significant production budget. But of course, as with any shoot, the production was not without its challenges. Its climactic scenes, shot during the holiday period at Honolulu’s City Hall to take advantage of a “free quarter of a million dollar set” that was bedecked with a bevy of Christmas lights and decorated trees, met with an unexpected crisis that not only threatened the scheduled shoot, but the eventual completion of the movie.

   A shot of Honolulu City Hall during the holiday season

The mayor of Honolulu at the time, who no one expected to be around since it was an evening shoot and it was also on the weekend, unexpectedly turned up to find someone had parked their car in his designated parking stall. This infuriated him and he subsequently ordered everyone off the premises immediately. In that haunting moment, the shoot, and the movie, was dead in the water. Jon, as director, was on only the first night of this two night shoot, was able to talk to the mayor and negotiate at least the completion of the first night’s shoot since everyone – cast, crew, and a hundred extras – were already there and filming had already proceeded. But in spite of this allowance the mayor was absolute in his decision that there would be no second night and so the entire production, with parts of the ending scenes “already” filmed at the established location and no authorization to complete the shooting of the remaining scenes the following night, looked to be doomed. But as the following video interview describes, in the time it took for Jon to cross the street from City Hall to the State Library, where he had told the entire production team to wait for him, he had already formulated a plan.

Director Jon Brekke Talks About How He Filmed A Movie Despite The Mayor Canceling Christmas

Essentially, while the crisis was dreaded, the solution was basically simple. If they did not finish the shooting of all the ending scenes scheduled for that night and the next, the movie could not, and probably would not, be completed. For with an upset mayor, there really were no prospects for “ever” finishing the movie since they could not count on being able to come back at any time in the near future or if at all. So Jon called a meeting of the cast and crew, explained the situation, and proposed that they do what they had no recourse but to do – finish “both” nights of shooting on the one night that they had. To a person, everyone agreed and jumped on board, and the production worked tirelessly through the night and into the next morning. By dawn, with the first of what would be many runners passing the front of City Hall (it was the day of the annual Honolulu Marathon) and the sun’s rising rays looming in the distance, Tis The Season wrapped its final scene, and Jon celebrated with his own personal Christmas present – a movie shoot in the can, completed amazingly against all the odds.

Jon Brekke directing Tis The Season. His decision to double up on shooting saves a movie.

Tis The Season – The Movie In Its Entirety

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

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