August 14, 2011

Looks like a martial arts instructional video by Action director Karasawa-san has just gone on sale. (I’m only kidding. It’s actually a prop for the story.)

Discussing final details on set with Art director Nori Fukuda. It truly is the planning and execution of a giant play.

Today is a break in the shooting so it should be a day off, but there’s no rest for the main production staff. We met in front of the Subaru Building and then drove nearly 2 hours to do preliminary checks on a location set. All the preparations for this film, from screenplay to storyboard, production, and shooting have been left to Nishimura Eizo and yet when I arrive at the last minute and start giving my opinions and adjustments on everything from A to Z, they follow my lead 100%. I am truly grateful and even if it is a little presumptuous of me to say so, I respect the way they work. I didn’t think Nishimura-san would actually be this devoted and committed. This was especially true of the script, where they remained incredibly flexible and were able to fully integrate some of the more radical ideas I had. I was quite moved. I don’t think this is simply a function of his long career in shooting advertisements. With that said, however, he has a number of works to his name and yet is never arrogant, always kind, and creates a set that places creativity above all else. This is completely different from the standard method so common to postwar Japan of inflating a tiny ego to grotesque proportions and using that to manage. In Nishimura, I see the attitude of a true pro.

I too have done collaborations with a lot of brands in other fields. My philosophy on collaborations has always been to try to reflect 100% the aims of my collaborator and to make sure they are fully satisfied with the result. I’ve concentrated on valuing my partners’ aims more than my own. And that is why when I collaborate with someone, they come back again and again. That is the evidence that they are satisfied.

I’m not someone who is capable of creating on my own. I do not have that kind of talent. However, I have spent the last 20 years perfecting the skill of pushing the talent of those around me to its outermost limits, occasionally even creating conflict in order to push them to over 100% of their potential and integrate that in to the work. This has led me to be mocked and misunderstood by many. However, I also believe that there is no other field which allows you to apply and test the limits of your abilities and experiences as much as collaboration.

Perhaps the area where I have made the most discoveries on this film is set decoration. Even I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve responded to this area, sometimes even delaying shooting to go over the fine details, much to the chagrin of the crew I’m sure. Perhaps it’s because this area is closest to my own territory as a contemporary artist. Just like with installation of artworks, I begin seeing noise in the corners of my vision. If I have another chance to do a live action film like this, I’d like to put even more energy and attention in the sets.

With that said, everyday on this project is one of creativity and enjoyment.