Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lazy October...

Fall, my favorite time of year, has finally descended on Tokyo. There was a fairly strong typhoon the other day, which caused pounding on my window all night and made my apartment building shake about like a bean in a maraca. The next day the roads were littered with brown and gold leaves, as if autumn had been dropped on us all at once. The upside to this is that after a typhoon the air is scrubbed clean, and the view of the city the day after was crisp and clear.

Well, I wouldn't call my life very exciting since the last blog entry. I've spent most of the time holed up at home writing a new script and fine-tuning the edit on my film "It's All Good." The edit is going well, but it's taking a lot longer than hoped. However, I have everything just about how I want it. After I get the FX shots in then comes the real fine-tuning. I'll be starting the ADR session on it within two-weeks. Can't wait! I love working with my actors Stephanie and Shogen.

I finished the first draft of a new film script entitled "The Blue House." It's a hard story to describe. It's about a young woman with a somewhat off-kilter relationship with the world and how she comes to terms with the whole of humanity. It didn't really occur to me, but I was told it's a love story, but not of the kind one thinks when hearing "love story." It's a love story between a woman and humankind.

Of course there is a science fiction element to the story. Wouldn't be me without it. I guess it's safe to say that I'm fairly bored by the limitations of the "real" world. Even so, my interest lies within the framework of the individual's relationship with the world. Despite my love of the unreal external and the true-to-life internal, I think it's possible to explore these inner workings of humanity within a science fiction setting without compromising the legitimacy of that exploration. "The Blue House" is the latest in a series of pieces I've written where I just let my sensibilities guide me along. Hard work, but enjoyable. The lead actress is a super woman with just the right sensibility to get into the pathos of the piece. Can't wait to shoot it.

This week some friends from the US west cost – Bob, Barrie, Butch, and Kevin – flew in to Japan. Barrie's been to Japan a bunch of times, but it's the first time for the others. I made the time to hook up with them and our first day saw a trip to Nakano and Akihabara. As you can no doubt surmise, these guys are into otaku stuff, although Butch is quick to separate himself from the anime scene.

We also put in a day at Toho Studios. I made a call and arranged for us to get in so they could fulfill a dream of walking around Japan's leading film studio. For me, going to Toho is no biggie anymore as I've been there over 200 times, so the best part was that my friend Shimizu took us around. Shimizu was an assistant director when I first met on the set of CROSS FIRE in 2000, and then umpteen times on the Godzilla sets as he was AD on all of the "Millennium Series" until FINAL WARS when he jumped ship and worked as AD for Shinji Higuchi on the film LORELEI. In fact, it was Shimizu who asked me to be in the opening scene in LORELEI.

Shimizu is one of the best ADs I've seen: First on set, last to leave; never a frown, always on top of things with a calm enthusiasm. His wife is an actress and she had a part in GMK and one of the Tezuka Godzilla films. Shimizu is also a kaiju fan, and often during shooting he would be tapped for hardcore info by the directors.

As I've been to Toho more times than I can recall going with first timers is fun. It's like rediscovering Christmas through the eyes of one's children. And Toho has changed so much over the past few years. I now try to work exclusively on my own film projects so don't visit sets as much as I used to. I think the last film set at Toho I was on was either THE GURDGE 2 or Hideo Nakatta's KAIDAN. But I have been there since the Big Pool was torn down... My memory is fuzzy in this way.

Anyway, so many new stages have been erected over the past four years. It's almost like a different place. My friends were lucky though, because Stage 1 and 2, built in the early 30s, are still standing. Shimizu gave the shocking news that they are earmarked for destruction next year. Everything has been shot in them, including the original Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, etc. Stage 1 was where I saw my first Godzilla shooting too. That was back in 1999 and was the final scene of "Godzilla Millennium" when the main actors were on the roof watching Godzilla fight Ogura. It was also the stage for the first day of shooting on GMK. My first experience with Studio 2 was a week during GMK for the underwater battle between Godzilla and Ghidorah. With the studio filled with smoke (to simulate the murkiness of water), everyone had to wear protective masks including myself. Unhealthy, but fun.

Shimizu was kind enough to drag out some old props for us. The day before Butch had been asking if we could see the Oxygen Destroyer from the 1954 Godzilla. I told him that that wouldn't happen. Well, it was nice to be proven wrong when Shimizu dragged it out of a locked closet. Later we were taken to another room with some leftover suits. I was astonished to see one of the GMK suits rotting away. Not one of the two full-sized suit, but the full sized, hand operated one. I remember the day this was brought on set. It was stunning looking! But now! Rubber is peeling away and some of its teeth are missing. But then again, GMK was shot 8 years ago!

Where does the time go?


  1. Nice to see you and some friends had a good time at Toho. Nice photo of you holding the Oxygen Destroyer, BTW.

  2. It was one of the highlights of my life. Thanks Norman.