A World of Story Outside of WeddingsThe Story of Tomi Menaka & KBG84
Legacy. Loss. Community. Laughter. Purpose.
An international popband sensation of centenarian grannies? Yep, it’s KBG84.
People in the Okinawa island chain in southern Japan live to be the oldest anywhere in the world. It is designated a BlueZone and has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians. While both men and women of older generations live long lives, women tend to outlive their male counterparts and make it well into their 100s – and Tomi-San is no exception.
Unavoidable when you live that long, tragedy entered Tomi’s life when both her son & husband passed away. Tomi found herself in a deep depression. This is the story of how she faced unimaginable hardship and sorrow in her life and in the process rediscovered an identity that would ultimately create a worldwide media sensation called KBG84.
How I Got Involved in the Project
The 6 team-Okinawa compatriots entered my life in September of 2017: we all made the commitment to up our story telling skills through the guidance of Muse Film School.
And if pushing our boundaries and discomfort were what we each wanted, then that’s what we got. The preproduction period alone was a constant challenge with language differences, and rough time zones, 5 other film maker’s points of views, rejected ideas and story hearts, and the pressure of other teams lightyears ahead in story development.
And if that weren’t enough, there were much crazier things about to happen: Just getting to this remote island for one took days of travel, planes, buses and ferries. It also required a lot more money and fundraising to pay for our 3 volunteer translator’s expenses.
Secondly, a 94 year old Okinawan grannie? Don’t let the age fool ya! She had us running around in circles trying to keep up and get “the shot!” I kid you not.
And third, there would be no story about exceptionally old people in Okinawa if it weren’t for our Producer, Josh’s chance discovery of an Okinawan in Kentucky of all places. Mamiko’s love for ancestry and culture was the key to have locals open up and share their beautiful lives with us.
This experience of what Patrick — our executive producer — called, “creating the best film of our lives” required all of us to live outside our comfort zones, to trust, let go of ego and control, to support, encourage, and be OK with insecurity and self doubt.
She is our little miracle, Tomi-san. With full hearts and tons of gratitude for all she and the island’s people have given us, we now send their message to you…
A FILM BY MUSE STORYTELLING, TOMI MENAKA & KBG84
CO-DIRECTOR STEPHAN BOEKER
CO-DIRECTOR VARINA SHAUGHNESSY
PRODUCER JOSH WHITEMAN
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY JORD CHRISTOPHER
SECOND CAMERA SAMO ZEAL