Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More Of Everything!

All Hail the Great and Powerful Skeleton!
Almost two months since the last entry. 
Ugh... Not sure if this is a blog or an afterthought.

So, what have I been up to...? Let me dig around the ol' brain and see if I can't find something in there to recall...

First off, I finished subbing 3 features films: BLUE SKIES, WHITE CLOUDS by Shusuke Kaneko, DEAD SUSHI by Noboru Iguchi, and another I can't comment on until it's officially announced, which is actually the biggest film of the 3.

BLUE SKIES, WHITE CLOUDS is the story of a rich girl whose life goes down the toilet following the 3/11 earthquake. I suppose that sounds serious - and 3/11 was serious business - but the film is more a coming of age film than a grim, finger-pointing look at events surrounding the quake. 

The movie stars several friends, Takeshi Nishina, Yui Murata, Nanako Kaneko, and Hiroyuki Watanabe. It was written by Jiro Kaneko, who did the Japanese script for my first film, THE iDOL. I also have a short scene in it where I play a Godzilla loving English teacher explaining to lead actress Hikari how much I love Japan and how much Godzilla means to me and how I'm never going ever to leave Japan despite the radiation and uncertainty of the times. No, it is NOT typecasting! I can say it's true, that I don't plan on ever moving out of Japan, but this is more because of my hatred of the act of moving than anything else. BLUE SKIES is just completing its theater run in Japan. 

The other film I subbed, DEAD SUSHI, won't be out until the fall, or there about. As of this writing, I'm halfway through the subbing process. I spent a day at Pabaan recently, overseeing the sub insertion, making changes on the fly, and writing new lines, which popped into the film during the "after recording" session. Once I get a DVD, I'll go over it, brush it up, and do my utmost to up the insanity level.

In addition to doing subs on DS, I also wrote the film's English PR, which is something I enjoy doing. (I know... I know... I went on about this in a previous blog entry!) I was also set still photographer during the shooting of DS. (I know... I know... mentioned in a previous blog entry!) As the film is still basically under wraps, I can't run any photos. However, here is the cover of the mini-poster. I would run the back cover, but I can't seem to find it on my computer right now. And, yes, it's another over-the-top Iguchi film, this one about sushi coming to life and attaching humans. 

No wait! I found the back scan of the mini-poster of the mini-poster! 

And finally, here's the DEAD SUSHI trailer:


I recently worked on another short film with director Yoshihiro Nishimura. Titled THE HELL-CHEF, it's part of an anthology film called THE PROFANE EXHIBIT. Or something. I can't remember exactly. Another of those seemingly endless shoots, it started at 6:30am and went on until 10am the next day.

I can't say these shoots are enjoyable, as they brutally test the limits of one's endurance. However, as an experience, they can't be beat. For one, in charge is Nishimura, an intense character to begin with. Then you have the gore. And then you have the seemingly endless hours. On sets like this there always comes a point where you completely bottom out. Fake blood and body parts are everywhere. Space is limited. Tensions are running hot. You look at your watch. It's 4am. It was exactly 24 hours ago that you crawled out of bed following a 4 hour night of sleep. You want to sit. If you do, you'll fall asleep. But you can't stand up anymore. Suddenly blood is once again spraying all over the set. You get some on your face. You look at your watch. 4:05am. Still hours and hours to go. This is when things just cease making sense. 

My job on this one, as is often the case, was set stills and behind the scenes video. I also put in a brief bit of acting as a murder victim. Like I haven't done that before. (Insert sarcastic emoticon here.) Honestly, I don't know how many films I've died in. I was thinking the other day that when my time finally arrives I'll be completely ready to face death given all the experience I have facing it. 

Since my photos on "The Hell-Chef" are under the control of the film's producers, I can only offer up shots that have run on-line already. As you can see the film stars Shiina Eihi, making this the 500th time we've worked together. (Ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration).

The latest issue of Eiga Hiho is out and for my 3rd installment I wrote about the film THE STUFF. You know, "Can't get enough of the Stuff" THE STUFF. It's by far my favorite Larry Cohen film and as it deals with the subject of addiction, I used the piece to talk about my own experience with addiction. 

Not that I've ever had a drug addiction, but during the 1980s my NYC roommates were hooked on heroin. It was something I had to deal with until I moved onto a new place (and they onto rehab clinics). The Eiga Hiho gig is going really well and I'm now putting the finishing touches on my 4th entry. 

I guess I should mention that my second article was on the film C.H.U.D. For this story I touched upon New York under then mayor Ed Koch and the homeless condition that led to the story of C.H.U.D.

In other news, I recently filmed the last scene of my new film. Although a laborious shoot, I'm happy to report it went super well. Other than one or two logistical headaches, when the reality of the set didn't mesh with the planning (which is fairly common in filmmaking), it went surprisingly trouble free. This meant that first and foremost I could concentrate on working with my actresses and not get pulled into things a director shouldn't have to deal with. 

As I'm still keeping much of the film secret, I don't want to reveal too much of the scene, especially since it is the final scene in the movie. I will say that the crew did a wonderful job, the set decoration was fantastic, the lighting great, and the camera work just what I was after. We also had a very cool fight between the two leads that was directed by Masaki Suzumura, who I shared a room with and got friendly with during the filming of DEAD SUSHI (he was action director on that too) last year up in Nasu. Although not a very big guy, Suzumura is one of the toughest guys I have ever met. He also has real skill at designing fights and knows which shots are needed to pull it off. 

And if that isn't enough, we had a freakin' snake and a freakin' tarantula on set, as well as an honest-to-god skeleton! Not one of those plastic knockoffs, but a real human bone skeleton. So...we did the respectful thing - wrapped it in Christmas lights and put a pink bra on it! 

The film has one more day of shooting that I'm in the midst of planning out. Hopefully I'll have the whole thing "in the can" within the next month so I can get the sucker edited and out there where it will hopefully offend a lot of people.

I made it to a few events recently too. Although this happened last Feb, I forgot to mention in my previous blog entry that I traveled over to Wonder Festival to hang out with friends Ed and Bill and catch up with certain friends I don't see all the often since I don't hang in otaku circles any longer. 

I do admit these Super Fest / Wonder Fest things are interesting. I like seeing old toys and holding things I never thought I'd hold again. But truthfully, much of it is a real trial. 

First, although you would think otaku, who are basically social misfits into fantasy stuff of one kind or another, would be more receptive to the thought of people from other lands (I'm talking about foreigners) in reality they have to be one of the most closed minded lot I've met. The fierce pride felt for their precious fantasy anime worlds, dewy-eyed ink drawn female characters, and gargantuan breasted high school girl model kits makes no sense. Given the nature of their interest, treating non-Japanese like the minority family who has just moved into the homogenous neighborhood seems to go against the nature of the imaginative driven world they use for escape. It would be like going to an event celebrating the multi-race universe of Star Trek one day and then the next going to a Klan meeting. 

Another source of annoyance is that no one even thinks to speak to me in Japanese. So, if I am somehow breaking a set-in-stone otaku rule of conduct, rather than tell me in Japanese, they try speaking in impossible to understand English punctuated by laughable body movement. This is the kind of stuff I used to get in the countryside of Japan 20 years ago and which is pretty much gone, expect at these events. 

At these times I simply stand staring unblinking as they go through some anger fueled attempt to tell me how I've just spit on the entire history of Japanese otaku culture by, say, taking a photo without waiting my turn on line (when what I want is not the photo of a toy or a cosplay model but rather the whole thing: the model and the nerds lining up to take photos). Once they calm down, I ask in Japanese what it is they want. This only seems to fuel their anger more.

Anyway... if it wasn't for Ed and Bill going there I wouldn't have bothered. Although it was nice to bump into my buddy Matt Alt, Sagae, Anzai, Kakusei, and a dozen others I can't seem to recall just now.

I also had a good time at the premiere of LUST OF THE DEAD at the head of March. As a film, I don't want to comment, but the event was a lot of fun. It was held in Shinjuku at some theater, the name of which I can't remember and am too lazy to look up. All of the film's actresses were there. I guess that's why I enjoyed the event as much as I did.

The film stars Asami, who I've worked with a bunch of times. I'm always happy to see her and be submitted to her "Asami aura of intensity." Riri Koda turned out too. I worked with Riri twice and she's really great, always smiling, always positive.

Also on hand were Saya Kobayashi, Arisu Ozawa, and Yui Aikawa. The adorable Saya is one of the more over-the-top women I know, and totally bursting with raw energy. I enjoy her company and look forward to the wacky shit that comes out of her mouth. Yui, despite making some of the most hardcore porn out there, is incredibly personable and genuinely friendly. She also looks great in a high school girl uniform. Of all the girls in the film, Arisu is the hardest for me to figure out. She comes across as somewhat suspicious of guys, which is what I'd expect from a porn actresses but which, oddly enough, is usually not the case in Japan. Still, she's sweet. I like her. Oddly enough, Saya, Arisu and Yui speak English to varying degrees of accomplishment, with Saya being the best (she even did a home-stay in Texas).

I was at the show taking pictures and hanging out backstage because...well, because I could! Seriously, I have a credit in the film, however, my involvement was limited to taking photos (done as a favor to director Tomomatsu), and shooting a "behind the scenes" video on a rinky-dink camera-thingy that looked more like an electric razor than a camera. I edited it down and Tomomatsu included it on the film's  DVD. I also gave the English subs a brush up. 

That I want to touch upon. Despite what it says on IMDB, I did NOT write the subs. Also, I didn't act in the film, which is also claimed on IMBD. I did wear a zombie mask in a few long shots, choosing to hover around in the background rather than be up close where I might do something I would regret later. Ugh...I guess I'll have to get those "credits" on IMDB erased. 

Here's a trimmed down version of my "behind the scenes" vid:

Anyway... much more going on but I have reached the limit of my blog writing endurance. 

I leave you with a shot of all the LUST OF THE DEAD folk.

Until the next time.
Whenever that will be...

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