Saturday, July 9, 2011

Can't Keep a Good Kaiju Down!

Holy crud… Someone turn that furnace off! 

Oh, right… July is glaring down from my calendar. It’s that time of year…

Despite it feeling as if the sun just took one giant leap closer to Planet Earth, work mounts, and I’m making the most of it, keeping busy with my own and friends’ projects. It’s a great, busy time, heat or no heat.

First thing up for this  blog entry is a plug for a recent book I had a hand in writing.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the giant monster masterwork “Mothra” (30 July 1961 in Japan, and 10 May 1962 in the USofA).  In celebration, the publishers of Eiga HiHo are coming out with a wonderful "mook" to celebrate this milestone in giant monster history. 

Ten years ago I spent a good part of 2001 on the set of the Godzilla film "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: All-Out Monsters Attack," (GMK for short) and as the film featured Mothra, I was tapped to write an essay that would touch on my memories of working side by side with the giant bug, as well as the GMK production in general.

I'm happy to report that although I was unable to stay within the limit of my word count (I talk a lot, as anyone who knows me can attest...), the publisher was so happy with what I wrote they allotted me extra space. The article is in the Japanese language, but for those who can’t read Japanese, don’t fret. It comes loaded with lots of cool photos I took on the set of GMK (like the one seen here.)

One thing I like about the cover is that because of my name being listed in the Japanese alphabet of katakana it totally throws off the balance of everything! Ha ha ha ha ha! (It's a little hard to see in the above photo. The mook comes out on 12 July. I'll replace it when I get a better shot.)

Although I've written for countless Japanese magazines, this is my first time to participate in the creation of a mook. For those in the dark, mooks are an interesting Japanese publishing concept, falling somewhere between a Magazine and a bOOK, thus "mook."

I remember buying my first mook back in the mid-1980s when Godzilla publications were finding their way into Japanese book shops in New York City. It was large (A4 size), printed on quality, laminated paper, and came with lots of articles and more photos than I had ever seen of Godzilla between two covers before. No way did I imagine then that twenty-five years on I'd be writing about my own first hand experience with Japanese giant monsters, with photos I’d taken on the Godzilla set appearing along side. In that way, life is pretty cool. The photo here is the cover of the first mook I bought, which covered “Godzilla 1985.”

I had another Godzilla related gig this month too when I was asked to appear in director Shusuke Kaneko's latest film "Aoi Sora Shiroi Kumo." While the film itself has absolutely nothing to do with Godzilla, I had a couple of lines as an English teacher who remained in Japan after the March 11 earthquake because of his love of Godzilla.

OK, I know that sounds fairly otaku, but it was a lot of fun to wear a vintage Godzilla t-shirt I’d picked up at Bleecker Bob’s in Greenwich Village in 1985 and act off of Hikari, the film's lovely lead actress. The whole thing was Kaneko's idea, and he let me write my own dialog.

With that said, I can't vouch for my acting because 1) I'm not an actor and 2) I had a bad cold at the time with the shooting beginning at 8am on a Saturday morning. I was seriously spaced out! Still, I did my best and had a good time working with Kaneko and the rest of his crew.

I spent the entire weekend on the set, getting familiar with Hikari, producer Yoichi, and catching up with actor Hiroyuki Watanabe, who I hadn't seen since the set of GMK. Another nice surprise was that Miho Izuka was working as Kaneko’s script supervisor. I’ve known Miho since GMK and she worked as script supervisor on all of the Millennium Godzilla films. Miho is a total sweetheart and always took good care of me during Godzilla shooting, and was even there when I had my first line of dialog in “Godzilla: Tokyo SOS.”

As usual, I learn something new about filmmaking every time I watch Kaneko work. Especially interesting this time out was his handling of lead actress Hikari. It being her first ever film, she was a novice at the art of acting. I noticed that he directed her somewhere between a result oriented method (which I’ve never seen him do before) and his usual descriptive way of producing a mood through selected words and explanations. Kaneko is an amazing director, with more experience than anyone I know in the film business.

I had two film jobs of my own since the last blog entry: more supplemental material for foreign DVDs. One was a video interview with director Noboru Iguchi that covered his film “Tomie: Unlimited” and the other was with actress Megumi Kagurazaka for her role in the Sion Sono film “Guilty of Romance.”

With my crew, we journeyed over to the Nikkatsu offices in Tokyo and met with director Iguchi and actress Kagurazaka. Both interviews were highly pleasurable to conduct and I’m confident they’ll be edited into a very enjoyable product.  Much thanks to my friends at Nikkatsu, Silk Purse and Monster Pictures.

Coming up are more writing jobs and two film shoots later this month where I'll be appearing in one as some kind of hyper police officer and a zombie. (Don't ask me, the script is incomprehensible.) This promises to be fun. If there's one performance I excel at it's at playing a zombie. I’ll also be working as a set photographer too on both jobs.

I'm also happy to report that I've finally gotten some subtitling gigs. Since the earthquake work has been hard to come by. I'm still very excited by the new jobs as they are for really wild films with totally off the wall dialog. Just the kind of stuff I enjoy twisting into English.

Lastly, I’m gearing up to shoot a new narrative. It’ll be my first in two years. I’ll have more on this when I feel comfortable talking about the production.

Until then... 

Stay cool!


  1. Remember a million years ago we had a movie, probably like 5 minutes long on maybe Super-8 film, about Ghidorah (or, I vaguely recall, maybe "Gidra"), that had completely random scenes from one or more movies sort of cut-and-pasted together, with subtitles (no sound I guess?). Somehow even after all these years I remember that it ended with the subtitles saying "Suddenly the three-headed / monster flew away".

    Definitely an anticlimax! :D

    Good times, Good times...

  2. Yeah... Editing those things together was a blast! Wish I still had them.

    I think the company was called Ken Films and they released B/W, 3-minute versions of several Godzilla films. Remember the subtitle in one shot when Godzilla rose form the ocean that read: "A hugh monsters rises from the sea"? Ha ha ha ha!

    Almost as much fun as making those "rockets" out of matches and aluminum foil!

  3. Ken Films, yeah! Looks like their spelling was better than I remembered:

    Wow, haven't made a match-rocket in years. Let's see, a match, some aluminum foil, and a paper clip to mold the exhaust hole and serve as a launch pad...