I try to take shots during rehearsals, but this being a winter shoot, the actors were bundled up in jackets that they only took off during actual shooting, which meant I couldn't just shoot as the "click" of the shutter would be picked up by the boom mic, ruining the shot. Instead, it's the game of "shot just as the director calls "action" and then the moment he yells "cut". And of course, despite all the limitations, everyone is expecting you to take tons of exciting, action packed photos that will draw the audience into the theater. Ugh...
Oh, and since Kaneko put up a photo of the "iDolls" van, I guess it's OK for me too. Get a load of that thing. Right in the middle of the shoot I had to zip over to Kyoto to give a presentation before the Kyoto Film Commission and the next morning, upon arriving back to Gotemba, I was picked up in this thing by one of the assistant producers. That was a bit embarrassing.
Well, all in all, the shoot on Kaneko's new film went 100% smooth. No accidents. No weather issues. At worst, little things here and there, but overall it was smooth sailing from first to last day of shooting. And for me as well. I only dropped my camera once, with the worst accident being a scratch on the protective lens for my 70-200mm Nikon lens. I had to buy a new one, which cost me $50! Crap!
I’ve also been subtitling like mad. I just finished up the Yoshihiro Nishimura produced and co-directed “Zombie TV”. I was set photographer on this one as well. But as it was only a five-day shoot it was tolerable enough. I enjoy working for Nishimura despite the fact he seems to like nothing more than to tease the hell out of me.
An episodic piece, "Zombie TV" features three directors: Yoshiro Nishimura, Maelie Makuno and Naoya Tashiro. This kept me busy because at some points there were two shoots going on at the same time and I'd have to rush between locations to get shots. One thing I was happy about was that I was finally able to photograph Luchino Fujisaki. OK... So, 1/2 her face was covered in stage blood, but I still got to work one on one with her, and that was a lot of fun.
Here's the cover to the "Zombie TV" DVD / Blu-ray, which goes on sale Dec 18, 2013. After the image was put up on the web I called up Nishimura.
Me: Nishimura! What the hell?
Nishimura: What do you mean?
Me: That cover... Bad taste all the way.
Nishimura: You think so?
Me: Yeah... It's great!
Actually, as a set photographer, I'm pretty happy with the cover as it's made up almost entirely of photos I took on set.
"Zombie TV" is pretty out there. It's intentionally offensive (a zombie vs an African cannibal in a wrestling match) and silly (an old man zombie out for a walk who is unable to keep his dentures in). I enjoyed working on it and despite its low budget, really like how it came out. I was also happy that during shooting I could enjoy being in the center of a "Nishimura Blood Shower". I think this was my third or fourth time to get wrapped up in plastic and get into the thick of Nishimura's overt love of stage blood.
I have no doubt that Japanese fans who buy the set will be having their asses handing to themselves it's that impressive an accomplishment - and I say this without a hint of pride! All the translations were handled by Yoshiki Takahashi, who, as usual, did masterful work.
Maybe you're thinking, "what the hell, it's just a bunch of abandoned buildings." In a way, this isn't wrong. That is what Gunkanjima is. Everyone's been in an abandoned building at least once in their life. The thing is, it's the scale of Gunkanjima that boggles the mind. The entire island was from one end to the other under human supervision and then, one day, they were gone, leaving the whole place to ruin. It is like no place I have ever been to in my life.
After this, I traveled by boat over to Ikeshima island, where I spent the night and then the next day touring an abandoned mine shaft and an abandoned apartment complex, one which used to house the hundreds of families that worked at the mine during its time.
That, too, was a total blast, and I got to wear a hardhat with a light on top, like the Quake character from Quake cereal… You know, Quisp and Quake? No? Guess you have to be over 50 to get the reference.
I also got to use some big ass hand drill that set my cavities rattling. The coolest was this weird drill head (see picture of me with it) that made me recall a scene in the film "Total Recall".
I also spent a day (the first day) exploring around the site of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb blast, going to the peace museum and hanging around the ground zero point. As I did at the impact spot in Hiroshima when I visited it with my brother back in the mid-90s, I got myself some sake and shared a cup with Miyako, trying to imagine that 60 years prior the very spot I was chilling out at was as hot as the surface of the sun.
All in all, between the two exploration days I must have gazed upon several thousand tons of abandoned steel and concrete. Actually, I played a little game in my mind. I imaged myself to be an alien explorer who had come to Earth years and years after the demise of the human race trying to figure out what these nut bag were all about.
Gunkanjima photo shoot by permission of the City of Nagasaki.