GENRE: Parody (Short Film).
STATUS: Completed and in distribution. In addition to appearing in its entirety on this web page, Vent is available on the Roku TV channel All Hawaii TV, and on YBS’ own online movie platform, Serenergy. Vent was also accepted to and screened in the 2022 London Lift-Off Global Network’s Online Film Festival.
LOGLINE: Cast members in a play taking place in a hole-in-the wall community theatre, complain about the production, their roles, and each other, around a rooftop vent.
Vent is a short film written, directed, and produced by Jon Brekke, that was inspired by the community theater founded by Eric Nemoto, known as TAG – The Actors’ Group. With his production office situated on the second floor of the building that housed the studio in which TAG produced its plays, Jon became very familiar with the “behind the scenes” goings on of the theater, which included gossip and drama (off the stage) about each production. Inspired by this, Jon wrote a script that featured TAG actors Leigh Ann Kinghorn, Dorothy Stamp, Betty Sanchez, and Eric actually playing themselves, in a tongue-in-cheek parody of the off stage “drama” of a typical TAG production. Additional supporting actors include Jeff Katts, Patrick Casey, Gregory Berquist, and Sheila Welsh.
The Shoot Location – The Cluttered Rooftop Of TAG
The film, a comedy that had the fledgling theater group poking fun at itself (while at the time TAG was emerging as a theater of substance it still had a reputation for being the bastard child of the local performing arts community), was shot over the course of three nights on the rooftop of the building that housed the theater, in a venue that was the original Yellow Brick Studio, in the Kaka`ako section of Honolulu, at 625 Keawe Street. The actual location of the shoot can be seen in the photo above only that the entire film takes place at night. No set design was necessary, what is seen in the above photo is what the roof of TAG actually looked like for the entire time that the group inhabited the place, 1994-2008; and this was the “clean” portion (a stockpile of discarded junk always existed to the left of this shot). The general premise of the film is that it depicts the supposed off stage moments (including intermission) of a fictitious play that is happening. The characters, each complaining about the production they are in and about each other, actually spend most of their time “venting” their frustration around an actual rooftop vent.
Vent – The Complete Short Film In Its Entirety
Vent was produced and filmed in 2003 and premiered in Hawaii at the ‘Ohina Short Film Festival, in the Doris Duke Theatre in the Honolulu Museum of Art. ‘Ohina debuted in 1999 (one of its earlier logos appears inset) to support local independent filmmakers and to give them an opportunity to exhibit their films to the community through a short film showcase. ‘Ohina, a Hawaiian term for “gathering” or “collecting,” provides an annual exclusive venue for a collection of works by Hawaiʻi filmmakers to be gathered and presented to the community. Although entries can come from around the world, there is only one requirement: a creative relationship to the Hawaiian Islands. ‘Ohina’s founder was Jeff Katts, who played the role of the videographer in the film.
Over time, the refreshing quirkiness and novelty that had reflected TAG’s tenancy in the original Yellow Brick Studio lost its charm and would especially fade in the wake of a building that was falling apart. When finally faced with a notice provided by the landlord to prepare to vacate due to the fact that the property had been condemned, which was further exacerbated by the old restroom sink faucets no longer providing running water, it was very evident that it was time to find a new location. The group started its fundraising efforts by doing what it did best – put on a play. “From Penicillin To Po’okelas” (the promotional flyer appears in the inset photo) was a 2007 retrospective on the history of TAG, and it announced the group’s intention of finding a new theater. This creative endeavor would eventually prove to be successful. In 2008, TAG finally left its intimate hole-in-the-wall location (36 seat capacity if everyone squeezed in and held their collective breaths) on Keawe Street and moved to the Mendonca Building (54 seats) on Smith Street in downtown Chinatown and operated there for two years. In 2010, it moved again to its current 60-seat location in the Shops at Dole Cannery in Iwilei: TAG – The Actors’ Group
An Era Ends – The Eventual “Cleaned Out” Rooftop In 2008 After TAG Finally Moved.
Vent is a witty, inventive, and visually impressive piece of filmmaking, and in producing this humorous short film, Jon Brekke not only genuinely captures the passion and emotions of a hypothetical group of starving artists, but in retrospect – because he chose to film without changing anything atop the building’s rooftop and actually desired to showcase the area the way it truly was – he authentically records for posterity’s sake, a section of the physical location where one of Hawaii’s best community theaters, TAG, got its inauspicious start. A place that no longer exists.
NOTHING IS LEFT BUT THE MEMORIES
A parking structure and a high-rise condominium, on either side, frame the empty sky, where there once stood the building that housed the Yellow Brick Studio and TAG, which after more than 10 years of being condemned, was razed to the ground in 2019.