Monday, January 30, 2012

Tagline Mania!

A bit late, but here is my first entry of 2012.

It's already the end of January, which means New Year has come and gone. I hope that for you reading, your time during the holiday was filled with idiosyncratic endeavors, like watching irrelevant-yet-beloved TV shows (nothing sets the holiday mood like a couple of over-the-top season 3 episodes of  "Lost in Space"), re-reading the same tired book (something entertaining, like Shaw's "Man and Superman"), listening to music (preferably Goblin, my favorite band) or just gathering with friends and/or family and doing whatever it is you do to deaden the din of the escalating noise produced by our "connected" world.

My New Year was pretty much a bust, as I was running around prepping for 3 days of shooting on my newest film.
New Neighbor 
As mentioned in an earlier post, "New Neighbor" is my latest self-produced film effort. A low-budget film, it is an under-20 peopled production, which means I'm saddled with numerous tasks and responsibilities: Director, producer, assistant director, set photographer, production manager, and continuity, to name a few. It can get a bit overwhelming. However, don't take this as a complaint. That's the way it goes at this level of filmmaking. And I knew it would be this way from the get-go. On the contrary, I feel pretty lucky. The people working with me are all skilled film-craftsmen and women. So what if I have to bust my ass.

To detail "Phase 2" of the production, the shoot began in the morning of 4 Jan at a studio near Nishi-Shinjuku. The first scene called for an office setting. Although I know a lot of people in Tokyo, as hard as I tried, I couldn't find an office that, for various reasons, suited the story. However, I've recently become aware of a company in Tokyo that rents "theme"studios. Not sure if that's the best way to describe it. Simply put, you want a hospital? They have one. You want a jail? They have one. You want a convenience store? Look no further! Skimming through their catalogue, I found an office that looked like it would suit my needs. Prior to shooting, I went with my DP to inspect it.

The place was great. A fully stocked office, it was complete with desks, white boards, copy machines, plants, folders, binders and all the knickknacks you find in Japanese offices. There was even one of those Daruma with an unpainted eye atop a cabinet. Satisfied, I booked it for a day's shooting.

For those interested, here's the website of the studio I used:

On the office agenda were two scenes, which took a total of seven hours to capture.

I would like to mention that the script called for just the hallway of an office. However, since the studio came with such a cool looking office and since I was paying for it, I thought, "what the hell" and wrote a new scene the day before shooting that would take advantage of what the the location had to offer. We improvised during shooting too, which was a lot of fun for both myself and the actors. All in all, it went quite well.

That evening we switched to an apartment setting and shot in the lobby and elevator of a friend's building. Unfortunately, by this time, we were all pretty much beat from the office shooting. Would have been nice to separate these two shoots, but as stated, the budget gods demanded otherwise!

The following two-days had us working in the large apartment of the film's co-producer. While more comfortable, both days were long, intense, and filled with rewarding as well as frustrating moments. You know, your typical film shoot.

Frame Cap from New Neighbor. ( R- Kentaro Kishi. L- Ayano)
My cast and crew are people I've known for years, having picked them up from various films I've worked on in Japan over the past ten plus years. The film's cinematographer is Shu G. Momose, who I met during the shoot of my first film, "The iDol," when the film's main DP couldn't get back to Japan for some pickup shots. Since then I've worked with Shu G. on a number of features, as he is the main cameraman for Yoshihiro Nishimura.

Fram Cap from New Neighbor. (Ayano)
Also involved is Hiroshi Ota, a lighting director I met on the set of the film "Tokyo Gore Police." He and Shu G. are a near inseparable pair, as is often the case with DPs and lighting directors. Ota also directs short films and recently helmed the "Catch Me If You Can" piece for the recent DVD / Blu-ray release of HELLDRIVER.

I still have two-days left on the production, which if the schedule holds, should be in the can within the next month and a half. I'll probably be unable to update the blog until after the next phase of shooting, but when I do, I'll provide more info on the shoot, the cast and the crew.

Tag Line Fun!
As mentioned, I work as a subtitler for several studios in Japan. It's a challenging yet enjoyable gig. Recently, my film duties have extended into the PR realm: synopsis, staff / cast bios, and, my favorite, taglines.

Taglines, for those who don't know, are those phrases you see on movie posters that are supposed to entice you to buy a ticket. Here are some examples of some good taglines:

In space, no one can here you scream. – Alien (1979)
Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas. – Army of Darkness (1992)
His story will touch you, even though he can't. – Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Be afraid. Be very afraid. – The Fly (1986)

And my favorite:
When There's No More Room In Hell, The Dead Will Walk the Earth. – Dawn of the Dead (1978)

For more on the subject:

I've got a few taglines coming up, but as with any unannounced film, I can't mention titles until the owners / producers of the film do so themselves. However, one example of my work in this field is the teaser poster for the upcoming Iguchi film, "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead." (One hell of a title, right?)

Creating a good tagline is not as easy as it seems. Short, to the point, and unforgettable is the goal. It's a big responsibility. For the "Zombie Ass" tag, I got a call from poster designer Yoshiki Takahashi a few months back asking me to come up with an interesting tagline. Yoshiki explained what he was looking for and I said I'd think up a few ideas and email them to him.

As I did the subs for the film, I was familiar with the story and what its director, Noboru Iguchi, had set out to do, which was to make the most ridiculous zombie film ever made. As a long time, "first generation" zombie fan, I'm pretty well-versed in the genre. As I was writing typing typical things like "Terror from Behind" and "Watch Your Ass," etc, I suddenly recalled what has to be the most balls out tagline after "Dawn of the Dead." The tagline for Lucio Fulci's "Zombie":


I remember seeing this tag back in the early 80s. I laughed at it at first, thinking it was dumb. But the thing is, it stuck with me as it was unforgiving and to the point. I mean, when it comes to zombies, that's about it. All they are ever going to do, all they ever want, is to eat you. It's a perfect tagline.

As "Zombie Ass" is a parody of sorts, dealing with zombies emerging from toilets, I suddenly had this flash... What if I parodied the "Zombie" tagline?

And there it was floating before my eyes:


After I wrote it down I couldn't stop giggling. I immediately called Yoshiki and said, "No need to send you a choice. There can only be one." I read him my tag and he started cracking up. We had our tagline!

I've a few more taglines coming up that I'll share in future blog updates. 

Anyway... That's enough for this entry. I have another Nishimura shoot at the start of February for which I'll be shooting stills, doing a "behind the scenes" video and even some acting. I think this will be my 3rd or 4th time to appear in a Nishimura film. Tough shoots, but the results are worth it.

Until the next time...


  1. I was pointed to your blog by Linh and very thankful for his suggestion. I like how you give insight into low budget film production and a bit excited to learn you are doing it in Japan. I was interested to read about how you found the company Planear with all the ready sets. Certainly cheaper than building a set and less hassle than dealing with extras showing up unannounced. Haha!

    That tag line is gold! Makes me want to watch that movie. Looking foreword to reading more. For now, I will satiate myself with your past posts and catch up.

    Stay creative. It's good for you.


  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Grin.
    I'm glad you could find something of interest in my blog. :-)

    Oh, and glad you like my zombie ass tagline. I still giggle when reading it.