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Long Interview: Daisaku KIMURA

- On Making "Chiri tsubaki" -

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“Chiri tsubaki” (TOHO), released on September 28th, is renowned Japanese cinematographer Daisaku KIMURA’s third work as director and cinematographer, and his first samurai movie. He worked as the Assistant Cameraman on many of Akira KUROSAWA’s movies from “The Hidden Fortress” (1958) to “Dodes’ka-den” (1970). He is recognized and respected as a master of focus by Akira KUROSAWA and cinematographer Kazuo MIYAGAWA, as well as his fellow cinematographers. He was the cinematographer on many premier Japanese movies: “Mt. Hakkoda” (1977), “Virus” (1980), “STATION” (1981), “House on Fire” (1986), “Poppoya” (1999), etc.
His directorial debut in 2009 was, “Mt. Tsurugidake”, for which he was also the screenwriter and cinematographer. It won Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 33rd Japanese Academy Awards. Prior to this, he has been awarded the Japanese Academy’s Best Cinematography Award over 20 times.

At one point, he announced his retirement as a director, but his love of filmmaking drew him back to make his second directorial movie: “Climbing to Spring” (2014). “Chiri tsubaki” is his third film and first samurai movie.
The movie is adapted from the novel of the same title by Rin HAMURO. Set in 1730, Shinbei URYU (Junichi OKADA) has left the Ogino Clan after claiming corruption, which was denied. The last wish of his beloved wife, Shino (Kumiko ASO), is that they return to their hometown before she dies to see the scattering camellia blossoms. There is he is reunited with his childhood friend and one-time romantic rival for Shino’s affections, Uneme SAKAKIBARA (Hidetoshi NISHIJIMA).

Unusually for a samurai movie, this movie was filmed entirely on location in Toyama, Hikone, and Nagano, capturing the beauty of Japan’s four seasons. The movie is a culmination of the “beauty of nature”, KIMURA’s “beautiful artistry” and “beautiful figures and way of life” of the all-star cast. Interwoven in all of this is a “beautiful historical drama.” It is the result of working with Akira KUROSAWA and actor Ken TAKAKURA, as well as KIMURA’s deep appreciation for the movies.
We spoke with KIMURA about shooting “Chiri tsubaki”, which is a sort of homage to KUROSAWA, about his film philosophy, and the beautiful images he creates.
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“Chiri tsubaki”
Junichi OKADA, Hidetoshi NISHIJIMA, Haru KUROKI,
Sosuke IKEMATSU, Kumiko ASO

Director/Cinematography: Daisaku KIMURA
Screenplay: Takashi KOIZUMI
Original Novel: Rin HAMURO “Chiri tsubaki” (Kakokawa Bunko Corporation)
Score: Takashi KAKO

Nationwide release: September 28, 2018

Making Inspiring Movies

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This is my 62nd year making movies. “Mt. Tsurugidake” (2009) was the first one I directed, making this the third. Basically, I am make inspiring movies. “Mt. Tsurugidake” is about a group of men who quietly set out to make a map – not for fame or fortune – they’re just doing their job. That’s like me, I thought, and I wanted to make this movie.
“Climbing to Spring” is about a futile effort. You know that something might be pointless, but you still pursue your goal. No one can achieve their goal without making an effort. That’s what inspired me to make this movie.

The protagonist in “Chiri tsubaki”, played by Junichi OKADA, is a projection of myself. He is what I wish I could be. I always say that the most important thing for a director to do is to embody the ethos of the film.
People say it’s ok for a movie to be a lie, but I can’t work that way. That’s why I always ask myself, “Why am I making this?” Even if I’m inspired to make a movie after reading a great book, I still take the time to think about why I’m making it.
There are a lot of lines that aren’t in the book that appear in the movie. Those lines came from me. In the movie, Junichi OKADA says, “I’ll do whatever it takes”, but that was mine. If there’s something I can do, I’ll do it. I want to do all I can.

The line: “If you find something meaningful to you, that right there is happiness” appears in the novel. That line made me think, “I can make the movie based on this!” Finding something meaningful, whether it’s a person or a thing or nature – that’s how my life has been. I’m here now because of these things.
I was 18 when I entered the film world. The first person I met was Akira KUROSAWA. So my first encounter was with an amazing person. The things I learned, what made me think, “this person is incredible”, those things are still with me even today. The next person who made me think that was Ken TAKAKURA. He is an actor I met on “Mt. Hakkoda” (1977). I am here now because of those men. I’ve also met other directors numerous times. And here I am today. In other words, “Chiri tsubaki” is like my life.

“Chiri Tsubaki”: From book to screen

I came across “Chiri tsubaki”, the novel, in the winter of 2014 and wanted to make it into a movie. I prefer asking someone else to do adaptations of historical dramas because of the specialized language. Takashi KOIZUMI immediately came to mind. I’d never actually worked with him, but he’d been an apprentice of KUROSAWA’s since before “The Shadow Warrior” (1980) and the last KUROSAWA movie I worked on was “Dodes’ka-den” (1970), so we just missed working together. Sometimes we went out to eat together in the Seijo area along with Teruyo NOGAMI, KUROSAWA’s script supervisor. That was the extent of our relationship, but we were friendly.

That said, I knew Mr. KOIZUMI only adapts his own work. I contacted Ms. NOGAMI and asked her if she would get in touch with Mr. KOIZUMI. About a week later, Mr. KOIZUMI sent me a synopsis, and it was amazing. I contacted him and he said, “I’ll do it for you.” This is a historical drama, you know, but he doesn’t do swordfighting scenes. But someone had to, so I wrote most of those.
It took about a year to complete the script. In the end, we wrote 5 drafts. After that, we discussed the dialogue over the phone prior to filming. That’s how we finalized the script. Then we started shooting, but so much can happen on set – the environment, the actors’ interpretation of things, etc. In short, the dialogue only happens once the actors inhabit their roles. A perfect example of this is Ken TAKAKURA.
When you’re making a movie, of course the script is important. The book is, after all, a starting point, and a movie is all about the casting. Once we decide on the actors, everything becomes very clear. You choose actors who are best suited for the role, and if the actors don’t work, then the movie won’t work either.

Choosing the lead

I first met Junichi OKADA on “Memory” (2017, dir. Yasuo FURUHATA, lead Junichi OKADA), but I had already decided I wanted him for the lead. I went with my gut. I had a feeling about him. The reason I chose Tadanobu ASANO for the lead on “Mt. Tsurugidake” was because I’d seen him on the cover of a magazine in a bookstore, and thought, “He’s the one.” I’ve been operating like this for 60 years, so I know it works for me (laughs). If I see a certain expression on someone’s face – even if it’s just for a second – I want to draw it out of them for my movie. Sometimes I can tell everything about a person from one picture. I’m kind of scary that way (laughs).
Rather than acting for the camera, I ask actors to take moments from their day-to-day life and bring that to the movie. I think it brings out the best in an actor.

Shooting what’s natural

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When you’re making a historical drama, everyone fixates on staging, how people sit, etc. But with “Chiri tsubaki” we didn’t focus on those things. It’s all natural. It’s a samurai drama, but it’s about ronin, you know? Do you really think when they were at home, they sat proper seiza-style when they were talking? They’re the same (as us). Even during the Edo Period, when they were at home, I’m sure they lounged around. You know, kicked out their legs or sat with their legs crossed. In the movie, the only time you see Junichi OKADA sitting seiza-style is when he’s sitting in front of an altar or when he’s sitting before the lord in the castle.
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My only instruction for the opening scene was, “Bring your faces as close together as possible.” I didn’t say a word about how they should be feeling. They’re two people who love each other. And they’re alone. That’s how things are when you’re alone together at home. OKADA asked, “Can I have her sit in my lap then?” (laughs). If you’re both sitting seiza-style, even if your knees are touching, it’s not possible to get really close. But if they sit like he asked, then you can get close. It works. And we have a full shot of that. But no one thought it was racy; it’s natural. That’s how it worked out. I didn’t want to get caught up in the details of a historical drama – I wanted to capture natural human interaction. That’s the kind of movie I make. That’s why it seems natural.

Producing the Movie

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I leave a lot up to the actors. When you do this, the actors give it everything they’ve got. You’ve got to have an eye for these things. I don’t give minute instructions on set with checking a script. I don’t like it. They know what to do. My directions are always brief. Like, “Get close enough so your noses are almost touching.” When you think about it, that’s directing. I say I don’t direct the actors, but maybe this is like directing. But I don’t touch on emotions. They’re professionals and they’re good at what they do.
When we did a rehearsal of the scene where OKADA’s practicing in the bamboo grove and walks by a well, he spilled a bucket of water. The water splashed on Haru KUROKI’s feet, and she said, “Ahh!” and giggled. “Can you do that during filming?” I asked her. It was such a sweet, feminine reaction. It was an accident during rehearsal, but I wanted to use it in the movie. “This is something KUROSAWA can’t do,” I said (laughs). They had good on-screen chemistry. It was a hint of what would come. I’m good at discovering those moments (laughs).
An actor once told me, “You don’t direct actors, but you direct the film.” I love that, and I use that phrase myself now.

Filming “Chiri tsubaki”

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The shoot ran from May 15 to July 6, 2017. If you include editing, the entire production took about 2 months and a bit. The editing team worked on set during filming, around once every 10 days, and after shooting ended, we had about 3/5 of it done.
We used several cameras during filming with a max of 5 cameras. For the first scene between Kumiko ASO and Junichi OKADA, we used 5. We shot the entire scene in one take, no cuts. I positioned one camera for the master shot, and the others on the opposite side. The lighting was tricky, but I made it work.
It took time to decide where to position the cameras, but because it’s one continuous shot, we finished around four o’clock even though we were on location. We were able to get it the first time around 90% of the time.
We only do one test shot, and the actors get used to this style. No one fluffs their lines. They understand that’s what it means to be on Team KIMURA. Everyone is ready to go from take one. The lighting can be tricky, but it guarantees a better performance from the actors. That’s how I operate.
During rehearsal, I try to anticipate how the actors will move and where they’ll go, and then I position all the cameras. That way the actors know where they’re being filmed. I can reposition the cameras depending on their movements, or vice versa. KUROKI said, smiling, “I heard that if actors don’t do exactly as you say on set, it spells trouble. But it wasn’t that way all!” (laughs).
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“Mt. Tsurugidake” premiered in 2009. About 80% of that crew are still with me, and everyone knows each other. We’re all used to working together, so when (shooting) wraps, they start calling me. “Daisaku-san, what’s next? Please hurry and let’s get going!”

A Beautiful Samurai Movie

I’ve said, “With Chiri tsubaki, I wanted to make a beautiful samurai movie.” It’s what I’ve been saying from the start. That includes the spirit of the characters. The structure of the story, the snow, the rain, the wind scattering the blossoms – all of that is KUROSAWA. Naturally, it all comes from him.

The reason behind doing a historical drama is that I wanted to make a swordfighting movie. To say that chambara is the same as swordfighting is a cheap way to put it, but that’s “chambara” for you. How do I reinvent the genre? Well, in a normal swordfighting scene, the highlights are when you move in or have lots of cuts as the big swordfight begins. But I always film mine in one take. There are lots of cuts, but the scenes were filmed in one take with multiple cameras. I wanted to shoot it in one continuous take, so I asked everyone to rehearse with that in mind. And that’s how we did it for this movie, too.

All of KUROSAWA’s swordfighting movies are one take. When the arm went flying in “Yojimbo”, he had to cut the scene, but that was the only one. It’s not common in Japanese cinema today. In that sense, what I’m doing is new, so people think that the swordfighting scenes in this movie are beautiful.

Shooting Figures

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The amount of rain is ridiculous. There was rain in KUROSAWA’s “Seven Samurai” (1954), too, and it was impressive, but if you watch it carefully, it doesn’t actually rain that much. People get fooled by all that muddy water. In my movie, we had it actually rain. We used about 20 fire hoses. We didn’t close them at all; they were opened up all the way.

You can’t see the actor’s face, but you don’t need to see it. You can understand his feelings better if you can’t see his face. Why did I use so much rain? I wanted to express his feelings. I wanted the whole scene to reflect how he feels. It’s why I used so much rain. His feelings are contained in that torrential rain.
Of course the emotions on the actors’ faces are important, but what can’t be expressed that way? It’s in their figures. The classic example, again, is Ken TAKAKURA. What I admire most about him is what he expresses when his back is to the camera. His back says it all. His back. There’s a part of me that always wants to capture something like that. I want to film people’s figures.

OKADA the Swordfight Arranger

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There are swordfighters in KUROSAWA’s chambara scenes, but he had kendo fencing masters approve the scenes, too. KUROSAWA never gave directions when it came to swordfighting, but it was his idea to film them in a single continuous take.
The fact that Toshiro MIFUNE could step up and handle it was amazing. His speed and dynamism. He was amazing. Junichi OKADA, well, he might lose to MIFUNE in dynamism, but OKADA is quicker. You can see it with the naked eye. I watched every frame. He handled his sword accurately, and even with hand-to-hand combat he was precise. He was so fast that I couldn’t be sure watching him on set. He did most of his own fight scenes. He’s not like your usual actors, he’s been training since he was young.

Wearing a real topknot

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I have a scene in this movie where I get killed. I thought it over carefully. In Japanese cinema, it’s understood that the samurai topknot is a wig. People have different shooting schedules, so it’s hard to ask an actor to shave his head. But if you ask me, if you’re going to be in a samurai movie, you show up with your head shaved.

Since I was the director, I knew I was going to do it. That’s why I grew out my hair long enough for the topknot. Then one day, I shaved the top of my head and performed with a real topknot. I showed them what a real topknot looks like. I’d always had them made, but for the first time in my life, I had a real topknot (laughs). Junichi OKADA was behind the camera for that. He was behind the camera in “Memory” too. He’s interested in all aspects of moviemaking. He observes what the crew does, too. “Memory” was a one-take shoot, too. I had him pan with a 250mm telephoto lens, and he did it three times. He followed through beautifully.

Akira KUROSAWA

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I’ll never be as good as KUROSAWA. I was groomed by Team KUROSAWA, so there’s a part of me that wants to be like him. But I don’t feel the need to surpass him. It’s impossible to surpass him.

For example, I can’t build entire station towns like he did (for the movie “Yojimbo”). He had streets wide enough to fit many people across, like in a Western. There aren’t station towns like that in Japan. KUROSAWA probably wanted a showdown with lots of people. Cinematic. And you can’t achieve that unless you build those towns. If you tried to build station towns like that now, it would cost upwards of several million yen. Because they were authentic. You could have even shot inside the houses. They were the real thing.
I don’t have the ability to raise that kind of money. So my approach is “go where the real thing is.” I just need to do the legwork. Most of what you see in “Chiri Tsubaki” is Toyama’s Treasured Cultural Property or nature itself. “Why not just go there and film?” I say. That’s how I operate. To me, movie-making = Akira KUROSAWA.

Perfection Behind the Lens

I think KUROSAWA said something to that effect. If you make the subject perfect on the other side of the camera, you’ve got a good shot. That includes nature, the setting, the aesthetics, and the actors. You should make everything look good. He didn’t use those exact words, but it’s what I think.

For example, the castles were all authentic in VISCONTI’s movies. VISCONTI preferred wide shots. KUROSAWA was all about the telephoto. You need a lot of distance for those, so it gets expensive. Everything VISCONTI filmed, whether it was a wide shot or whatever, it was all the real deal.
Some cinematographers fixate on the beauty of form and frame within a huge space when they shoot wide. But as long as (the subject) is the real thing, it’ll be OK. But if the subject isn’t real to make the frame awesome, then it’s just crap.

Director and Cinematographer

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When I was a cinematographer, I used to make those demands of the director. When we were filming “Virus”, we went to Hokkaido to shoot a scene set in Antarctica. We spent about 10 days in a Toyota HiAce. Every day, we drove along the coast, scouting locations. I thought it was a waste of time and didn’t bother getting out of the van. If this is my job, I thought, I want to quit. It’s not going to be a proper shoot unless you go to Antarctica. And in the end, that’s what we did.

As the DP, I’ve worked with many directors, and they all tell me, “You are how a DP should be!” Well, yeah because, you know, the job covers it all – from the actors to every single thing.
There are some things that a director or producer can’t say to the investors. So that’s where I step in. I don’t really care what they think of me – they probably think I’m a demanding cinematographer. But the cinematographer is responsible for the images, the look of the movie. Why can’t I say what I think?

Depending on who you ask, if you’re going to direct, they don’t want the same person as the cinematographer. I’ve been looking through the lens for a long time, and I get tons of ideas the moment I look through the camera. I don’t want to lose that. Whether I’m directing or whatever, I always want to be behind the lens.

The ideal is to be both director and cinematographer. I love seeing things from both perspectives. The reason why I promote myself this way is because I don’t get any cinematography job offers anymore (laughs). It’s true. I considered retiring at one point. But I love movies. So how could I stay in the industry? I know! – there’s planning, production, screenwriting, filming…if I could do all these and people are interested, then I’d be all set. So I went for it (laughs).

Shooting the real thing

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When it comes to movie-making, it usually takes over a year. With “Chiri Ttsubaki”, we waited for the camellia to bloom again, so it took over a year to make. That’s why we included scenes of all four seasons. In every movie I’ve done, they’ve all shown the passage of time. Like we changed a scene to a winter one even though it wasn’t originally in the script. On “Gokudo no onna tachi”, it wasn’t in the script. But we have all four seasons in Japan.

We have autumn leaves, snow and summertime clouds in “Chiri tsubaki”, all representing Japan’s four seasons. In the rainy scenes, you will see hydrangea growing in the yard. I was really mindful of those details, and you’ll always find them in my work. I love nature. I love Japan’s great outdoors. You’ll see the Northern Alps in the opening credits of “Chiri tsubaki.” It’s nearly spring, but there’s some lingering snow. What’s wonderful about Japan is that you can still see snow on the mountains in spring. Autumn leaves! I’ve visited about 70 countries around the world, but I’ve never seen such beautiful fall foliage as I have in Japan. That’s why I wanted to include it. Since this is a Japanese story.

Ken TAKAKURA cried when he watched his own movie, “Mt. Hakkoda.” It was the scene panning the planting of the rice fields. He said, “I cried so hard I couldn’t see.” He’s Japanese, that Ken TAKAKURA. Rice is our life force. It can’t be explained. Sometimes landscapes reveal so much more than people. It’s something I’m really passionate about.

In search of authentic landscapes

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The natural scenes I film are ones that I’ve worked really hard to get. It’s not easy. I never shoot anything that looks bad. When I have free time, I go out looking for what I can shoot. Let’s go, I say to my ARRIFLEX 2C. In short, a silent camera. It was made in 1939, so we’re about the same age. I put it in the back of the car, and we set off together. If I put in a cool way. No fixed destination. I bring a book listing all the domestic business hotels, and I stay where I want to, eat in the area, and sleep. Sometimes I stay at a cheap hot springs hotel. It’s kinda like heaven. Makes me happy.

I love extremes. Like Hokuriku. Basically peninsulas. Noto Peninsula, Oga Peninsula, Cape Tappi, Cape Shionomisaki, Cap Ashizuri in Shikoku. You can see extremes when you’re there. In the weather, in everything. I just go with my camera and zone out. Watch the sea. Smoke. Times like that, I feel what it means to be alive. That’s why I love it. I don’t have to film anything. It calms me. And if I see anything worth filming, I do.

I come up with new ideas then. It’s funny. Once I enter the highway tunnel, images just come to me. Tunnels are otherworldly. Something comes out of them. When you have those experiences, you start feeling like you need to go somewhere. Nothing will come to you if you’re sitting around at home. I need to get a picture of myself someday, shooting scenery – you know, shooting with a telephoto from up on a cliff, I must look like an intellectual (laughs).

Mt. Tsurugidake

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On “Mt. Tsurugidake” the aim was to shoot the waves in Noto over a 10-day period, but it wasn’t possible. Noto’s rough waves on the Japan Sea. It was February. We went to shoot and stayed 10 days, but there were no waves. I’d caught great waves in Cape Tappi in the past, so I wasn’t about to shoot anything less. Oh well, I figured, back to Tokyo. When we got on the Hokuriku Expressway, I could see the Japan Alps diagonally in front of me. February’s snowy white Japan Alps before my eyes. I just stared at it for a while. So amazing.
Then I remembered Mt. Tsurugi appears in Jiro NITTA’s book. I wasn’t in the mood to pursue it then. But I figured why not go see it once before I go home, so we got off the highway at Tateyama – and I was going with my cinematographer’s gut here – I knew I’d find something good (laughs). I thought, “Here!”, parked the car and re-read the book. I thought, “This will make a good movie.” I could film the grandeur of nature. There’s no drama if it’s just about a land survey. But nature would create the drama. Yes, nature would create the story. It all started with “Mt. Hakkoda”. That was like asking to die. So you see, nature created the story. If I hadn’t done that movie, it would never have occurred to me to make this one.

Requests from actresses

I always think…well, I love the ladies. There’s just men and women in this world. What I’ve got in mind next has that in it. I want to film a beautiful woman.
It was the requests from actresses like Sayuri YOSHINAGA and Shima IWASHITA, asking, “Please Daisaku-san, would you be my cinematographer?” that I ended up doing movies like “A Chorus of Angels.” All the movies from my time with TOEI in Kyoto have women in the leading role. I’ve always got famous actresses asking for me to be behind the lens. They all know that I’ll make them look beautiful.

I’m super attentive when I film women – in so many ways. When a woman stars in a movie, she’s the heroine. You’ve got to make her look beautiful or it won’t make a good movie. They’ve got a woman who deserves to look gorgeous. Of course I’m going to make her look beautiful. It’s simple. Every woman, no matter how good an actress she is, wants to look pretty. So I make them a promise. I assure them that I’ll make them look beautiful.

There can be all different types in the movies. Sentimental images, most famous works of art, they’re all to some degree Romantic. There’s a softness to them. There are a lot of action movies these days, and they’re gritty. But when you’re filming women, you don’t want a gritty look. Take that old movie, “On Golden Pond”. When I think of all the famous movies, they’re all Romantic. Movies starring women are anyway.

KUBRICK

I was most influenced by Stanley KUBRICK. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). There have been a lot of space movies since then, but has there been a better one? Then there’s “Barry Lyndon” (1975). For the scenes shot entirely by candlelight, he had lenses specially made. All of KUBRICK’s movies are so different. When I watch movies as a cinematographer, not for the story, it’s always KUBRICK who impresses me on a technical level. It’s hard to be as good as he was. That’s reality.
These days, camera performance is good, and you can shoot anything. People say something is good if you shoot everything using only top lighting, but I don’t think Japanese cinema is doing actual “lighting” per se. I went to visit other productions, and simply put, they aren’t doing lighting. It makes you wonder whether you can call that filmmaking.
For example, on “Chiri tsubaki”, everything was set up. You can even see outside the windows. It all looks normal, the way our eyes would see things. If you look at what people are doing now, everything’s overexposed. The outside is blown out. People say, “it looks good, it’s good,” but no.
In terms of shooting technique – and that includes direction – it makes me think I’m the one who is doing the newest thing. But I’m only using things I learned years ago, many years ago. Now cameras are even better, but can you really call it new when you’re just using the latest equipment?

Estimating Focus by eye

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I’m not married to film. Digital is fine, too. But I don’t have time to learn it all, and with film, I don’t need a meter; I know what aperture to use. In the past when I had to focus the lens, I didn’t use a tape measure for distance. I did it all by eye.
KUROSAWA’s “Yojimbo” I did all by eye. That’s what made me famous. When I look at a subject, I can tell how many feet away they are.

During “Yojimbo”, Kazuo MIYAGAWA was watching me from behind and he said, “Dai-chan, you’re the best in the world.” I was showing off (laughs). I wanted to look good in front of everyone. I hated the idea of getting the tape measure, going over to the actor, annoying him, and going back to the camera.
So I did a lot of training on my own in secret. Using all kinds of methods. I really worked on training my eye. I set up a camera on the back lot, followed someone running, and when they stopped suddenly, I stopped too. Then I used a tape measure to gage my accuracy. I did this where no one was watching, just me and two assistants.

Without a script

All my scripts are completely marked up. There are lots of edits, and I visualize and sketch out scenes on them. When shooting’s finished, I throw them away out of respect for the director. I don’t keep any. I don’t have a script with me on set. Not even as the director. I don’t use them at all. It’s all in my head.
KUROSAWA didn’t carry scripts on set either. After all, he wrote them. I come up with at least 10 scenarios to bring to set. Like what to do if the weather’s like this, or if this happens, or how I should film the scene if the actor says this, etc. I envision lots of scenarios to bring to set. You’ve got to be flexible and show up prepared with everything you’ve got.

Successors

I can barely take care of myself. I don’t really want to train successors, and I don’t feel like I’ve taught anyone anything. I think they’ll learn by watching what I do. That’s how I learned. Well, when we go out eating and drinking, I talk about things that happened, things I did. And everyone has a good laugh. “But if you do that now, I’ll kick your ass,” I say (laughs). Once you work with someone, you’ll probably want to do it again, right. Even if you know it’s going to be tough, you still want to do it.

Dream Big

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A movie has to have something that makes you think about the future, allows you to dream. Some directors might say telling a sad story is the most filmic thing, but I think there should be some happiness too. That’s my dream. Kind of like, “I feel better after seeing this movie.” I hate tear-jerkers and I don’t like documentaries that do that. I’m hoping people will feel energized after seeing “Chiri tsubaki.” Or maybe more invigorated than energized. I think that’s better. I want to make more movies like that.
What’s next? I have lots of ideas. It’s a question of which one. But first “Chiri tsubaki” needs to do well at the box office (laughs). If it does well, it’ll be easier for me to make the next one. I’m always honest about these things, me (laughs).

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©2018 “Chiri tsubaki” film partners
Photo: Yuji NUKUI