From television to blockbuster movies, casting director and filmmaker Brent Anbe knows his way around a script.
Hawai’i has been a sought-after destination for many movies and films, which means casting gurus like Brent Anbe tend to have a lot of work heading their way at any given moment.
“I have worked nonstop since 2010,” he says. According to the Hawaii Five-0 casting associate, Hawai’i is home to 11 of the world’s climactic zones, and through its diverse landscape and urban areas can double for an unbeatable array of countries and cities, as showcased in the TV series, Lost.
So far, Anbe’s efforts have included projects with ABC, CBS and Netflix Japan, as well as casting endeavors for feature films including Godzilla, Jurassic World, and most recently, Snatched—the Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn movie. And that’s all on top of his work with Hawaii Five-0. He joined the casting ranks of the remake of the same name during its second season, after working on Offthe Map, Cougartown and The River.
While most of Anbe’s recent work has been in various casting departments, his first tryst with film and the encompassing industry came in high school, when he was required to adapt a story from his English class into a mini movie. It was his first attempt at directing, and he says, “the first time something came naturally to me, and never had something felt so rewarding.”
While pursuing a degree in communications at University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Anbe was able to bolster his interest in film while working on documentary film Ke Kulana He Mahu: Remember a Sense of Place, which had a strong run on the film festival circuit, and interning at Pacific Focus and Shooters Film Production—two of Honolulu’s most-respected production houses.
Anbe also started working with the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and now has 15 years of experience with HRFF under his belt. He began as a volunteer and eventually joined the programming committee to keep his finger on the pulse of LGBT filmmaking, in the hopes it would inspire his own creativity.
“[It] has served to be truly rewarding to provide Hawai’i’s LGBT community with the opportunity to see the latest and cutting edge of queer filmmaking and stories,” Anbe touts. “I’m always on the lookout to get more people involved (gay, straight and everyone in between) with the festival and to continue the legacy.”
His journey through Hawai’i’s film industry also took him to the Hawaii Film Offi ce, where he started as an office assistant. After nearly six years, he rose in rank to become a film industry development specialist—and found inspiration for his 2009 short film Ajumma! Are You Krazy???, a movie about three local women addicted to Korean soaps who are on a mission to meet their favorite Korean actor heartthrob.
His film, in short, was a success for Anbe on so many different levels. It was featured at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea and segued to his career in casting.
On the home front, he is working to help casting directors and associates unionize. And don’t count his director’s hat completely retired. He also plans on writing his first feature film script, which will feature local talent behind and in front of the camera to “create a memorable and impacting narrative feature film in which all of Hawai’i can be proud of.” His big hope is to have his films premiere in the Sundance Film Festival or Cannes Film Festival. And if he ever gets a shot at directing a studio feature film, he would mirror it after one of his favorite movies—Zoolander.
“I just love the over-the-top pure fun that film possesses and that slice of time of the early 2000s/millennium/Y2K pop culture,” he says. “I would want to make a comedy, which pokes fun at itself.”
“[I’m] dreaming big,” he adds. “And the vision board is up.”