An electronic pothole along the Internet highway where filmmaker, writer, journalist, photographer, musician, unpublished poet, coffee drinker and ex-New Yorker / Tokyo based Norman England writes whatever the hell he feels like writing. You have been warned.
Been much time between blogs. I hate to say it, but it's kind of a low priority thing with me – although I do enjoy the casual writing about the many paths my life-road takes. And the past few months have been insanely productive, so it's been tough to find the time.
Where to start? First off, the hellhole that was one of the hottest summers I can recall in Tokyo saw me scribe 3 feature pieces for Fangoria: HELLDRIVER, VAMPIRE GIRL vs. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL and HOUSE. They are all bundled in the cool as ice "Halloween issue" going on sale in a week or so. Check out the cover on the side.
Huh? Gene Simmons? I loved Kiss when I was in high school, and still do for that matter. But it wasn't what I was expecting. Still, I like that it's a hand painted cover. I'm tired of photo only covers. Paintings have a quality photography almost always lacks: the world as it resonates emotionally from a single artist's viewpoint. If you don't know what I mean, go on-line and check out old issues of Famous Monsters. Man, who doesn't love those old Famous Monster magazine covers? So yeah, IMO, the cover rocks! And I like how my work is summed up on it simply as "Japanese horror."
HELLDRIVER I've talked about ad infinitum. It had its official premiere at the Sitges film fest in Spain a week ago. I finished my subtitling work on it at the 11th hour, only scant days prior to director Nishimura rushing off to its first screening. The final subtitling session was a lot of fun, but utterly long. I'd been working on the film throughout editing and invariably there were changes that screwed with the timing. Also, things dropped, things added, but that's to be expected when doing sub creation during editing. I went to the cast / staff premiere at Imagica only a few days before the final subtitle studio session and gave myself a good head slap at the amount of changes from my last work print. I had my job cut out over the next few days. But, we nailed it in the studio and it was a great experience. Thanks again to all the fantastic people I worked with at Nikkatsu on HELLDRIVER.
The photo of Shiina Eihi and Nishimura is from our little afterparty following the first screening for cast and crew. Oh, why did I let Nishimura talk me into eating raw horse...
Another film I cover in the new Fango is VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL, a set I visited before I took up blogging. The DVD is FINALLY coming out in the USofA this month from Funimation! As Japanese DVD releases in the US invariably lag behind that of their releases in Japan my piece on the film is only coming out now in Fangoria. I went to the VG set in March of 2009! That's too long ago! I can't remember that far back!
Seriously however, I spent much of the summer of 2009 involved with promoting the film in Tokyo, which is when I started this blog. If you page back you can find some info with photos from earlier entries. I also subtitled the film. I had a lot to draw on and feel I did a decent story. VGvsFG is a solid, low-budget film stocked with a lot of imagination. And a lot of blood. Yeah... A LOT of blood!
The HOUSE story was based on an interview I did with director Nobuhiko Obayashi. I visited his office over in Seijo during the summer and spent an afternoon with him and his daughter Chigumi. Had a lot of fun and enjoyed listening firsthand to their tales of making HOUSE. I hope I was able to capture the spirit of our talk in the Fangoria piece. HOUSE is a seriously entertaining film and I highly recommend it.
Other things... Let's see. I visited the set of Shusuke Kaneko's new film, "Pole Dancing Boys" the other day. Quiet the title, no? It's Kaneko's lowest budget ever, and his shortest shooting schedule. But I have to say, the guy is such a pro that the production didn't feel rushed or in a mad panic, which is usually the case on films with big ambitions and a lack of time / resources.
The film follows the exploits of some young men who find themselves in the world of male pole dancing. Pole dancing has been the rage in Tokyo for the past few years, although females mostly perform it. The film stars a lot of up and coming male "idols" so the audience target is, naturally enough, women. I introduced my actress friend Cay Izumi to Kaneko before shooting and he cast her as one of the female leads. Cay is a fantastic pole dancer and has acted in a number of films, such as MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD and HELLDRIVER. I'm glad that worked out. I enjoy helping friends out like this and I think it's good for her to step into something a bit more mainstream.
I also did some acting in a V-Cinema film. Don't know the name of the film or anything about it. I just appear as a favor to the director. Maybe I shouldn't even mention it here... That photo at the top of this blog entry is from the shoot. That's a bomb strapped to her chest, by the way.
Before this blog gets too long (and believe me, it could if I touched on everything I'm working on) I want to get to my main news, which is my new film proposal is part of something called "Tokyo Project Gathering" at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF). This is a section of the fest where they help select projects meet their budget goals. TIFF is at the end of the month. Until then, I'll keep re-working the script, working on designs. Lots to do to prepare.
I'm also happy that once again my friend Bob Eggleton is working on conceptual illustrations. Bob is a world-renowned artist who has won 9 Hugo awards! I swear, when I get a chance to visit his home I'm going to make him let me use them as bowling pins, he has just the right number. If it's OK with my producers, I'll put some samples up in a future blog.