BY BILL WOLCOTT
Niagara Gazette — Jay Berent, a Lockport native, performed successfully as a very young stand-up comedian on tour with a company of magicians until he was 15. Now he's an investigator for Niagara County and making a movie on his own time.
Monica Kanouff works in marketing for Local Edge and lives in Lockport. She's a black belt in karate and is one of the dozen actors in the movie. Her part includes learning to shoot a bow and arrow.
Daniel James is a Californian who now makes his home in Niagara Falls. An editor and actor who specializes in videography, James co-wrote "Brief Permanency of Living" with Berent.
Berent's Cat Call Productions was filming the movie at the Lockport Nature Trail on Slayton Settlement Road this week. The movie has been filmed at several locations and will be ready for viewing by the end of the year — give or take.
Berent has an intriguing history in show business. His older brother, Dena Berent, was 3 when he became the youngest person in the world to be enrolled in the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Dena was featured in Boys Life Magazine and earned a good living as a magician until he retired from show business at 18.
"I was young, cute, chubby and people thought I was funny," said Jay, who toured with the team for 12 years. The boy kept the audience entertained between magical acts.
In 2012, Jay Berent, a writer director, had an idea to combine two of the arts he is passionate about, film and poetry. A worldwide contest was held and the best poems were selected to be included in the film. Four poems made the cut.
The story follows an older gentleman on a journey through his past. The man will relive memories as he goes through an old scrapbook. Inside the scrapbook there will be photos and poems. The story plays out as he turns each page.
Michael O'Hear stars as the dying man in the "Brief Permanency of Living." Michael Gagliardi plays his son in a memory sequence. The guest stars are Jessica Zwolak, Tara Rosado, Ashley Rauth, Juston Roy Graber, Arlynn Knauff, Monica Kanouff and Chelsea Baran.
Berent's "Billy Hearts Cassidy" was featured in the 2013 Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival. His upcoming story "The Girl From the Locks," a comedy about a three friends from Lockport is being published as a comic book and it is in preproduction as a feature film.
Berent's plan is to enter "Brief Permanency" in the Buffalo Festival, more film festivals and market it on DVD.
"It's a book of poems based on particular emotion," James explained. "As the short films play out, the gentleman realizes his self worth, how much he did experience. How much of a full life he did he have?...What emotions did the scrapbook unveil — loss, anger, hope, love?
The film is targeted for a large audience, James said. "We think it will teach a strong impactful lesson ... We all get to a point where we question are we doing the right thing, did we experience enough? It teaches you that life itself is an experience heartbreak and loss."