Monday, August 31, 2009

"It's All Good" on FOX-TV

Fox-TV has a show in Japan called "Backstage Pass" that spotlights films in Japanese theaters, mainly Hollywood blockbusters. During the rehearsal and shooting of "It's All Good," some of the people at the show paid the set a visit to gather coverage for a piece they were doing on independent films and filmmakers in Japan.

The show ran this past week on TV in Japan and today they upped it to the web. Of course I'm really happy to have this run. But what I'm not happy about is that as the film is still in post-production the scenes shown from the actual film are incomplete. For example, the music is from my first film, The iDol, and not the film's actual score. You'll notice that the TV to the right of Stephanie has green marks on it. This is because a TV picture will be fit in later on. And the worst offender, the quick zoom in on Stephanie as she holds the alien parasite, which is a total place marker FX shot.

But what can you do? Just happy to get the word out!

Here's the link:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Enough Already!

I officially ended my work on VAMPIRE GIRL last night with the premiere of the English language subtitle version at Theater N in Shibuya.

But I get ahead of myself. The movie finally had its "normal" premiere (no subs) on 8/15/09. That day, I caught the morning screening in Shinjuku, which was given the send off by directors Nishimura and Tomomatsu, as well as actors Yukie Kawamura, Eri Otoguro, and Takumi Saito. Of course these are just the high profile people involved in the film, and in the audience were many of us who had worked on the film.

As my friends Yoko and Maki of the singing group Trippi's couldn't make the first screening, I arranged to meet them at Theater N in Shibuya for the next stage introduction by directors and actors. I guess this was my 300th time to see the film...

Afterward, the staff / cast went over to an "izakaya" to celebrate. Drinking, eating, laughing, story telling, silliness... It was the typical after screening party that I've come to enjoy. Takashi Shimizu of The Grudge fame was there, and we both fell pray to the demented (i.e. disturbed) ways of Sayako Nakoshi, who plays the dethroned wrist cut champion in VG. Shimizu fared better than I, as she drew blood from my thumb. Shimizu is also an actor in the film, playing a Chinese language teacher.

Following this the group moved to what the Japanese lovingly refer to as 二次会 or second party. "Machine Girl" director Iguchi waddled in with Aya Kiguchi, the star of his new Robo Geisha film, which I have yet to see, but probably will pass on. His films are too crass even for the likes of me. I spent most of the time talking actor technique with Shimizu, who I think is a phenomenal director and one of the funniest men on the face of the Earth. (Shimizu was supposed to be at the English subtitle screening last night but opted out to go to a hot spring with his family, which was probably a better deal for him. But he was kind enough to send Nishimura a rather elaborate note to the audience that included a message for me and my last film FEED ME.)

The following day (8/16) I went over to Imagica to catch a screening of Shimizu's new 3D film, "The Shock Labyrinth." The film was completed at 1pm that day, and screened for a small group at 6pm. Kind of cutting it close...? While I don't hate 3D and do enjoy it on occasion (like when seeing "Parasite" in the early 80s), I really don't think it much more than a gimmick. But, hell, if someone said they'd finance a 3D film of mine I'd jump on that in no time flat! Still, it was a decent film and Shimizu always has an interesting way to present his story elements. Fortunately for Shimizu, he was less hung over than I from the night before.

Anyway, last night went fine. I had a good time and could relate some of the challenges of putting the subs together, with Marc Walkow of the NY Asian Film Festival relating the impression the film had made on the non-Japanese audience when it had it's first screening in NY last month. Was it last month? Earlier this month? I could look it up on the web... too lazy.

My film "It's All Good" creeps closer to completion. I got the score last week from Kow Otani. As usual, he delivered something truly different. I can't say it's what I was expecting, but it works and adds depth to the entire film. Still so much to do...

Oh yeah... The photo here is me with one of Monami's (Vampire Girl) blood swords. Stupid, cheap digital cameras can't get the focus right on those things in low light...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vampire Party

A fun thing connected to movie making is not the actual filmmaking process, which is mostly a direct path to hell, but the wrap parties. I'm a big fan of wrap parties. I've been to many in Japan, several Godzilla, Ju-On, and Death Note, among others, ones. It's always a good time and a chance to celebrate the monumental effort movie making entails.The other night I attended the final promotional party for "Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl." While not an official wrap party, it kind of turned out that way, with much of the audience being either staff or core fans. In fact, as the official end of the pre-promotional blitz, everyone was letting their hair down and just having the best time they could.

Taking place at the Ruido Live House in Shibuya, the evening began with Maki and Yoko of the group "Trippi's" singing "Pinky Love," one of their songs used in "Vampire Girl." I love this song so much. It's a kind of 60s style tribute tune that helps smooth over some of the violent aspects of the film. Both girls are totally cute, with an enjoyable, deadpan stage presence.

Following this directors Nishimura and Tomomatsu, Frankenstein actress Eri Otoguro, stunt director Tak Sugimoto, and others took the stage in an attempt to talk about the film. But with Nishimura basically talked out when it comes to the film, he was more interested in horsing around, relentlessly teasing Tomomatsu and some of the other staff.

This ended about 30 minutes later. Nishimura then called a few of us who worked on the film to the stage. As mentioned in a previous blog, I did the subtitles for the film. I got a good laugh tonight when pointing out that my contribution has little meaning in Japan. But the truth is, I busted my rear on those subtitles, and Nishimura was quick to mention that good subs can make or break a film abroad.

I was also happy that I finally got to put in some one-on-one time with the adorable Eri, who plays the 'evil' Frankenstein actress. She came tonight wearing a yukata, giving the party a pleasant traditional touch. Eri's a charming young woman and delivers a terrific performance in "Vampire Girl."

After this my friend Kai got up and wowed us with some pole dancing. While not a fan of sexually stimulated dance, I have to admit that Kai is quite good. A professional dancer as well as an actress, Kai appears in "Vampire Girl" as the leader of the ganguro clique. I'm embarrassed to say that because she wears so much make-up in the film I didn't know it was Kai until this evening. She's also in Noburo Iguchi's new "Robo Geisha" movie.

Somewhere near the end of Kai's performance, Nishimura climbed on stage and started calling some of us back on the stage for a turn on the pole. I was one of the first called upon.

Jumping onto the silver rod, I had to use what little strength I posses to pull myself up. Then, with the even less coordination I have, I did my best to spin around a couple of times, finally falling down totally exhausted. I tell you, it's not as easy as it looks! Although this was about the last thing expected to do this evening, I'm happy that I gave it a whirl.

Get it...? "Gave it a whirl." You know, pole dancing... spinning around... whirl...? Ah, forget it!

As the evening was wearing to an end, Nishimura and I demanded that Trippi's get back on stage and sing their theme song to "Vampire Girl" once more. Nishimura set a chair right in front of the stage, while I climbed to the side in front of Yoko. And the crowd went wild!

Also at the party was Jiro Kaneko, writer of the Japanese script for my film, "The iDol," who came with Benny, one of the stars of Nishimura's 2008 film, "Tokyo Gore Police." Benny's a good guy and a decent actor. I hope I can find a part for him some day in one of my films. In addition, I got to hang out with Remi Otsuka and Miharu Yamazaki, my buddies at Excellent Films, the mini-Frankenstein trio from "Vampire Girl," and Rei and Yumemi Kato two actress. Yumemi (in red beside me) is a Robo Geisha in the film "Robo Geisha."

An hour later the inner core of the night went to a small standing bar around the corner where we continued to while away the evening, drinking, toasting and singing theme songs to 60s anime. Only in Japan.
Here's a truncated version of Maki and Yoko's song. Not sure why the person who upped this cut it up in this way... Moron!