This is going to be a long interview so I will not do much in the way of introduction except to say thank you to all of the film makers involved with Tokyo Grand Guignol and their producer and production company. If I am ever in Tokyo I intend to check in with them.
Some projects stand out from the others and this one caught my attention at first because of visually stunning it looks. There are places on earth that seem to be saturated with more color. Tokyo seems to be one such place as the stills from this film look amazing. Then I studied the concept behind the project and I came away thinking I had to know more about this film. That lead me to contact the film makers and after overcoming a bit of a language barrier I have the interview below for you.
Do not forget to visit their crowdfunding campaign. You can visit it by clicking here.
Also I would like to thank Yann Moreau for making this interview happen.
Q)Before we begin the interview please take a few moments to tell us about your Indiegogo campaign.
A) First, thank you very much for your interest in our project! It was a long road to make it but because of the interest and passion, as yours, we could make it.
To come back on the indie gogo crowfunding campaign, what we can say is it's very helpful and always positive way to work on a project. We started to talk about TOKYO GRAND GUIGNOL more than 2 years ago, so, after all this time, and already 4 shooting, we make it because we need a little extra money to finish the movie in the best way possible (especially to make post production important steps like audio mixing, some CGI, start marketing, subtitle,...). The campaign will finish on June 16, and every coin is important for us! So, thank you by advance to your great reader.
Q) It would seem that this film touches a number of areas that most low budget film makers would want to know more about. Most film makers would find it a daunting task to shoot a film in their home country and in their native language. Taking a subject like Grand Guignol and using it in a totally new setting had to be challenging. What advice do you wish you had received before you attempted this project?
A) To be honest, we started to talk about this project so long time ago, we mostly get prepared for the badest situation. As usual in this kind of indie movie, the best advise could be "don't wait too much, don't fear too much, just take your camera and shoot". We tried first to get budget with the regular "asking to companies" way, but the concept was little bit to strange for most of japanese producers, haha.
Of course, the main challenge was to manage communication between french directors and japanese team, but our japanese producer (Hiroei Ishihara) selected always great teams, and Gilles Landucci and me (Yann Moreau) worked as Associate Producers, like a link between the french way to work (just do it) and japanese way (let's think, to make it better).
Q) Grand Guignol started in France, how aware were you of this subject material before you were contacted about making this film?
A) This project started with the intention to ask french directors their "visions" about Tokyo and japanese "culture and life". By passion, we are all fans of fantasy and "genre" in cinema, so very quickly we were thinking it will be interesting to make scary stories, with the usual Grand Guignol style (imagination, blood and sensuality), in Tokyo.
Q)Shooting an Anthology is a difficult job when undertaken by one film maker. The most obvious problem that would have to be overcome when there are many film makers involved in the same project is at the level of the camera itself. Did the four film makers have to agree on types of cameras that would be used for this production and the frame rates?
A) For the camera work, we choose to make it all with Cannon mark 2 and 3, and some lenses generously provided by Cannon. Framerate is based on NTSC format. Except that, each director manages his own style of shooting, editing, ...
Q) The anthology film has never really been given the respect that they deserve by the film viewing public or by beginning film makers. I got introduce to this genre of film making as a child by movies like Black Sabbath and Trilogy of Terror. Movies with a clearly defined binding element. In the case of Black Sabbath theme and in the case of Trilogy of Terror a single actress starring in each film that formed the Trilogy.
Recently we have seen in the US. films like V.H.S. and the ABC’s of Death. Were there films that made you eager to tackle this form of film making?
A) All the directors of TOKYO GRAND GUIGNOL made a lot of short films previously, and we all love anthology like Black Sabbath or Creepshow (in France, we were all wicked by the old VHS cover by Melki!).
We talked a lot of time to make one, but we didn't have enough strong concept, and new, to make one. Until TGG.
Q) This project came with basic rules. (The rules of this project are simple: A limited budget, total freedom and imaginative stories of 25 minutes which need to include a kiss and be mostly shot at night.) Did the film makers involved find these simple rules restricting or liberating?
A)I think in the case of the 4 directors, it's was a good thing to have a common base to make a strong identity to the movie. But usually, the more freedom we have, the better it is.
At beginning, 7 directors were involved, but because it was difficult to keep the schedule, budget and duration for each story (15 min become 20/25min now for each one); we split the project in 2. Now we are making the 4 first stories (by Nicolas Alberny, Francois Gaillard, Gilles Landucci and Yann Moreau), which will make a 90min feature film. Then, hopefully, we want to make a Volume 2, with the others directors already planned (Xavier Gens from THEV DIVIDE and FRONTIERs, Jean Frederic Chaleyat and Frederic Grousset. All associates producers now)
Q) About the production of the film. Where the films being shot all at the same time or where spaced out over weeks or even months? Secondly was their ever moments when the film makers and or their casts had the chance to interact?
A) Our brave producer took the good decision to set 1 shooting every 3 months, to keep the energy, but in same time to have enough time to prepare well each shooting.
Depending of the directors, each shooting was 7 days to 9 days.
Q) Also from the crowdfunding campaign I see that you all had the same production crew. Some film makers prefer to use their own personnel particularly behind the camera or even man the camera themselves. Did this ever become an issue?
A)This movie was made in the very independant way, with a limited budget, so our plan from the beginning was to hire only director who can handle themselves the camera work, editing, ...
But because we know each others very well, and are friends, we were happy to give an hand if the director asked. There was 1 main director on each story, mostly helped by another one (for second camera, time to time, or help), with a commun base for sound, assistant, ... and always great and very gentle actors team!
Everybody was so great anyway!
Q) Tokyo is one of the most visually stunning cities on earth. I hope to film their someday. With such a canvas available to you were their times when the city itself felt like a character in your project?
A) Depending of the sensibility of each director. Some prefers focus on japanese interiors and story culture, others focus on outdoor shooting to play with the Tokyo Architecture. On the 4 directors, i think it will be an interesting 50/50 style. On my side, i fell in love of Tokyo 7 years ago. Since this time, i always wanted to show some particular places.
Each single station of Tokyo has his own personnality, style, like a small town. That’s a huge pleasure to shoot there (and live there, haha). If you like strange modern architectures, please come in Tokyo Rodney!
Q) Looking at what is called Asian cinema from a distance it is difficult to get a feeling for the state of independent film making in a country like Japan. Has the Dslr cameras and availability of low cost editing software impacted film making there as much as it has here in the US.? Also since the directors involved are from France, how has it affected film making in their home country?
A) In Japan, there is no place for independant filmmakers, in the way of Sundance style. Or you make your movie by yourself (with your own money), or you make it in production company (and it will look like a TV Drama, for 90%). But sometimes, it's working. My friend Akira Ikeda just got many prizes around the world with his super indie "Anatony of paperclip". Bravo!
In France, if it's very difficult, or incredibly looooong, to get money for official (lazy) producers, it's really possible to get money help from gouverment, and free services from technicians and actors (even famous).
We can not complain too much, haha. In Japan, it's almost impossible to get something free/inexpensive (locations, actor, services,...); thats why it's very difficult for indie producer.
That’s why we are very grateful to Dice Entertainment and Hiroei Ishihara.
Q) What are the plans for Tokyo Grand Guignol when it is completed?
A)First, we plan to show the movie in festivals Tour, then we hope to get a passionate distributor to take car of it, And a great co-producer to help for the Volume 2, ahah.
Q) Any final thoughts or advice for the beginning digital feature film maker?
A)As i mention, make a movie is a very long road. Most of the people will say it's impossible, or not reasonable, but now, with DLSR and strong computer, our beautifulest dreams come true.
So, we have no excuse to try. Do your best, even in uneasy situation, and you will be always proud of your work. Good luck to everyone!!!
Again thank you very much for taking time out to do this interview. We all look forward to seeing the finished product.
Each one of us during any given year will pick the one or two crowdfunding campaigns that we personally get involved with. My contribution is usually to invest my time and effort in getting the word out about a project. Some projects I like more than others. This is one of those projects that I love. The location, the story elements. The fact that it is an Anthology. The fact that they are seeking a reasonable sum of money.
Indiegogo Page click here.
For this campaign to reach its goal it does not require much more than for you guys to spread the word about it. Twitter is a place to do this along with facebook. I am one of those people who if anyone ask me about movies I have a dozen new ones to talk about each week along with my plans for one or two that I want to do. This is one film that I am going to mention here at this blog a few more times as they near the end of their campaign. I may even pull out the Surfin Bird song to get my point across.
Thank you for dropping by. We are going to get back to the found footage series soon. I think that their asre two interviews left in the series and then we are probably going to investigate the state of low budget film making in other countries. Also I am thinking about adding a directors reel page and an actors page. There are a lot of actors who have mentioned to me that they are looking for work, but cannot get a hundred people in a year to check out their reels.