A new film that’s playing in the 2021 Seattle International and SXSW film festivals was shot at the former Zoo Break Studios in Burien – “Potato Dreams of America” – Written and Directed by Wes Hurley.

Zoo Break Studios was located at 14907 4th Ave SW, where the new Big Lots recently opened (and before that it was Staples). The stage was managed by Producer Mischa Jakupcak and her partner Robyn Miller (who created the classic computer game “Myst”) and was an actual, working studio/soundstage for a while, before being taken over by the discount store.

“Potato Dreams of America” is an autobiographical, coming-of-age dark comedy about a young closeted Russian boy in the disintegrating USSR who moves to Seattle with his prison doctor-turned-mail-order bride single mother

Here’s a great behind-the-scenes segment of production of a scene from Hurley’s new film, shot at Zoo Break in June, 2020, courtesy the Seattle Channel:

Hurley is also creator of famed local web series “Capitol Hill.” He was born and raised in Vladivostok, Russia, and moved to Seattle at age 16 when his mother married an American in the 1990s. His work focuses on exploring gender identity and finding community in Seattle’s queer performance spaces. He has collaborated with theater, drag, and cabaret performers around Seattle to raise awareness about human rights violations in Russia. Prior to his autobiographical feature Potato Dreams of America (2021), Hurley wrote, directed, and produced Waxie Moon (2009), a documentary about the titular gender-bending Juilliard-trained burlesque performer, and Fallen Jewel (2015), a queer pop-art comedy musical. He also created the comedy-horror soap opera web series “Capitol Hill” (2014) set in Seattle’s historic neighborhood.

Potato Dreams of America

    • Director: Wes Hurley
    • Principal Cast: Marya Sea Kaminski, Tyler Bocock, Dan Lauria, Hersh Powers, Sera Barbieri, Lea Delaria
    • Producer: Mischa Jakupcak, Wes Hurley
    • Screenplay: Wes Hurley
    • Cinematographers: Vincent Pierce
    • Editor: Wes Hurley
    • Music: Catherine Joy, Joshua Kohl
    • Premiere Status: Seattle, 2021
    • Running Time:95 minutes
    • Website: Official Film Website

Before it was full of cheap snacks and discount patio furniture (sigh), this location was a real, working production studio (photos courtesy Zoo Break Studios):

“In a way it makes me happy that that space is no longer sitting empty, but definitely bittersweet as we hoped it would become a permanent space for filmmakers,” Director Wes Hurley told The B-Town Blog.


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