Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Full Steam Ahead!

I don't know if this is a blog or simply a list of things I've done between time point A and time point B. I wouldn't mind writing more often and in more detail, if only time permitted. Not even sure where to begin...

Well, since my last entry, I attended two screenings at Imagica. The first was "Death Kappa," an upcoming giant monster film by director Tomoo Haraguchi. It was the premiere screening of the film and attended by the staff and cast. I was there finishing up my story on the film for Fangoria magazine.

I love watching films at Imagica. Nice, large, cushiony seats, a bright clear screen and some booming audio. As "Death Kappa" isn't a major release it was screened in the smaller theater on the lot, but even that's not bad. Still, the large theater is my favorite screen in Japan and I've seen a number of big films there over the years.

Everyone went to a nearby Izakaya to celebrate after the preview. I spent the night wedged between the producers and cast. One thing I find amusing about these staff parties is how everyone separates themselves. At one table was the art department and VFX people, at another, the camera and sound crew, and at another, the director, producers and actors.

In any case, the night was great fun. Haraguchi and I go back to the set of "Gamera 3", and he even put a cameo in my first film, "The iDol." Haraguchi loves teasing me about this (among other things), leaving me in a position where all I can do is down as much alcohol as possible and tease him back.

It was only my second time to meet the film's leads, so I was still in the introductory stage of my meeting with them. You know, polite speech and lots of praising back and forth (so different from Haraguchi). However, two of the actors I've known for awhile. Hiroko Sakurai is always a sweetheart, and seems to have a smile permanently plastered on her face. The other actor, Ryuki Kitaoka (guess he changed his name), I've known since 1999 when I met him at some low-rent "giant monster" festival in LA.

Two weeks later, I went over to Haraguchi's home where, amidst wild props from his various productions and his incredible still and movie poster, we conducted an interview about his work and intentions for the "Death Kappa" film. It was basically a follow up interview to the one I did with him during shooting.

Also during April was the premiere of the film "Natural Woman 2010," which I did subtitles for earlier in the month of April. While not a major release, it was a quite an enjoyable job. The premiere at Image Forum in Shibuya was a blast. All of the film's actresses were on hand, along with director Seiichi Nomura, a well known photographer in Japan who came up with the idea of running photos of pretty girls at the head of Japanese manga, an idea that could be said to have become culturally significant. The premiere featured a talk on stage with the director and the films four main actresses.

I dragged my friend Shusuke Kaneko to the screening (which made a stir backstage). After the screening, Kaneko, myself, Yamazaki (assistant producer), her sister and Ayano, the lead of "Natural Woman," went to a small restaurant around the corner and spent about 5 hours talking and basically just laughing it up. 

The following week saw another "Natural Woman" event, this time attended by the two leads, Ayano and Shiomi, and director Nomura. It was also my birthday, and, coincidently, assistant producer Yamazaki's too. After the screening, Excellent Films president Ito-san took us out for an excellent birthday dinner! (Get it? Excellent films. Excellent dinner... Ah, forget it!)

I spent the night getting to know Shimoi and getting to know Ayano better. Shiomi works mostly as a model and was the face for a line of cosmetics for cosmetic giant Kanebo. She had some interesting stories about modeling trips to Spain. Ayano, on the other hand, was a film student and it seems she's become an actress only because she happens to be entirely cute. The food was fantastic, and desert was a big dish of different pastries with Yamazaki's and my name written across it in chocolate syrup.

The Dawn of the Dead Box Set I worked on came out a day or two before my birthday, and the company sent me a copy, which is great as the 20,000 yen price tag is a bit steep. I don't know if I'd call the cover 'exciting,' more like 'sophisticated,' but the set gets my approval.  In addition to the various versions of the film, there are lots of nifty bits on the extras disc, too many to mention here. As I announced in a previous blog, I wrote a couple of pages for the 64page pamphlet. Writing about my favorite film of all time and getting paid for it is one of my greatest joys! There's nothing like money made from doing what you like doing.

Between blogs I also did subtitles for a film called "Mutant Girls Squad," which is an upcoming film from Nikkatsu Studio on their new Sushi Typhoon label. Directed by three men – Nishimura, Iguchi, Sakaguchi – MGS is a totally over the top gore fest with some decent action scenes and a good sense of humor from start to finish. Writing the subs was challenging, as some of the sections have no English equivalent. One reason I got the job is because director Nishimura insisted that I do it. I've known Nishimura for years now and I know how he thinks and where his sensibility lies. I also did subs for his "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl" film last year and those came out well.

As if this wasn't enough, I also spent several days on the set of two new Nikkatsu films, but as these remain officially unannounced, I guess I shouldn't mention them in any detail yet. Hopefully by the time I find a moment to update this blog it will be OK for me to talk about them.

Until then...

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