After The Bitter Comes The Sweet

14 Jan

It feels surreal to be wrapped. We arrived just over a week ago; after six amazing days of production, we have a film in the can– one that we are all extremely proud of. We collaborated; we pressed on through the long hours and cold days; we created art and built relationships that will exist forever.

On Monday and Tuesday, the team had the incredible privilege of being in the presence of three brilliant actors. As director, I needed to create a safe environment and give them the space to do their best work. Without authentic performances, this film would be nothing but beautiful, empty images. It was important for the students to see their process as we searched for inspiration and blocked our scenes. Because these actors understand their craft deeply, they need to find ways to put themselves in the scene, whether through connecting with a piece of wardrobe or wanting to know why their character would stand in a specific place of the frame.

Our lead actor Yugo Saso made the film happen with his generosity and his performance. Throughout our rigorous shooting schedule, I never heard one complaint from him. He trusted our process of making this film and was always ready to go. After working with Masayuki Yui (who plays Hasegawa), it was easy to see why Akira Kurosawa would want to cast him in four of his final five films. Yui-san is a naturally gifted actor who can read a line ten different ways and still keep it fresh while making it his own. Sakae Kimura (who plays Hasegawa’s son) is the consummate professional, who came well prepared with many ideas about his relationship to each character.

It was an invigorating time of creating art. Production was like a 144-hour long day with three hour naps interspersed throughout. When we wrapped our final scene at the convenience store, the owners wanted all of us to sign a commemorative card and take a photo with them. It was such a surprise to have them bring us coffee and dried persimmons. As I bit into the dried persimmon, it was a bittersweet moment to know that our time, though not without its challenges, had come to an end. We have made it through production without much compromise, and I’m so excited to begin our journey through post-production and into the festival world.

Thank you for sharing in our joy.

Dean Yamada

Shooting on the roof of the abandoned clinic.

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