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Interview at the BFI (20th June 2008)
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Eden2004
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Joined: 21 Jun 2008
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Location: Woking, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:29 am    Post subject: Interview at the BFI (20th June 2008)  Reply with quote

Hi all,

First time posting here. I was at the BFI SouthBank, in London, yesterday for a movie and an interview with Shinkai-san so I thought I would share a summary on the web and this seems a good place.

Probably not too much new things for the fan but will see.

Sorry if there are letters or caps missing, my keyboard is old Smile
I will summarize it in present tense as I am not a native; that will prevent too many errors.

Shinkai-san first come to greet us before the movie (they were showing 5cm/s) and receive heavy applause. He seems very nervous and is stuttering, bowing a lot. He was more at ease later, during the interview. He throws one or two jokes about not leaving between the parts because there are short credits shown between each part. He says a few words in English. He seems to understand it to a certain extent but not yet speak it much (at lest, not in front of an audience).

The movie is shown in Japanese with subtitles.

At the end of the movie, they decide to show She and Her Cat (the 3 minute version). Later on, we will also see the trailer of The Place Promised in Our Early Days and the first few minutes of Voices of a Distant Star.

Shinkai-san comes again with an interviewer form the BFI and a translator. Unfortunately, the translator had quite some trouble and my Japanese was not good enough to do better.

Here we go with the questions. Please keep in mind that this is not word for word what was said but a reconstruction from my notes. The content should be true but the style is not and things might be missing.

Interviewer: Cats are recurring characters in your movies. Why?
Shinkai-san: During The Place[...] I had found a new-born kitten that I decided to take care of. Also, when I was young my family had a cat and during the movie, I have found 4 cats that I decided to keep. I live in Shinjuku and there are a lot of abandoned cats. Feeding the cats has helped the team to relax.

Interviewer: You have started to work alone with a Mac. How was it to work with a big team on The Place[...]?
Shinkai-san: Yes indeed, I was doing my short films alone. I had already access to the software needed, Photoshop, After Effects (Note from me: because he was a Graphics Designer at a game company).
I was working on game and it was hard, I had to work during lots of hours, I was stressed. I wanted to tell my own stories not work on other's (he has says this several times in different ways here).
When you work alone on your project, you have total control; the film is like you want it to be.
But in the end, film are not less stressful, I work a lot Smile
With The Place[...], I had to share my ideas. It was hard. But also it was enjoyable. I had a big responsibility.

Interviewer: I know that a friend of yours does the music. Is it done in parallel, together, or do you make the movie and then he does the music?
Shinkai-san: I create the storyboard, he looks at it and creates the music and I tell him how I want it to tune it.

Interviewer: There are two recurring themes in your movies which are loosing touch and communication. Why?
Shinkai-san: I did not plan it as recurring, but yes indeed, it is. At the time of Voices[...] I had a girlfriend. In Japan, SMS had started but not much, nothing compared to now. When I was sending an SMS to her and she was not replying, I was worried and so times even jalous. We were living in the same city but sometimes it was feeling as a huge distance, as if we were around different stars.

Interviewer: In Voices, there was that sound at the end (Note: I believe he talks about the end of the screening we have seen) that tells nothing to the foreign audience. Do you think about the foreign audience when making movie?
Shinkai-san: For Voices[...] and 5cm/s, I did not think about it. I had people in mind that I wanted to give a message, friends, girlfriend, family, group of peoples.
Now, I have met more foreigners, I know peoples in FranceÖ
For my next project, I want everyone to relate to. Thatís the reason I am in the UK, that and learning English.

Interviewer: Can the UK be a source of inspiration?
Shinki-san: There were hopes for that. (Note, here he says a few sentences but I just didnít get the historical order. A story Ėpresent? past? The translator speaks in present tense but that sounds like a past story- about working at a good company, with peoples that understand what he thinks immediately, to the point that it makes him wonder about what he really thinks. When he moved to Tokyo, he was going a bit out of his comfort zone, and whatís why he went to England: to g o out of his comfort zone).

From now on, interviewer is replaced by peoples from the audience. Some asks question in Japanese which creates even more trouble for the translator because they are looking for their words and the questions are long.

Interviewer: What will you do in the future?
Shinkai-san: (Note: sorry, I spaced out for 10s and that was the length of his reply Sad I think there was not much to get)

Interviewer: Space is a recurring element of your movie...
Shinkai-san: SF is what I prefer the most. I am not saying this because I am in England but I love Arthur C Clarke. I have read it when I was in high school and I told to myself I want to do this in images. Thatís what I would like to do.

Interviewer: Why not creating a happy end for 5cm/s. I had a sad feeling at the end.
Shinkai-san: This end was decided from the beginning. Half-way I wondered if it was the correct way to end it but I decided to stick to it. I didnít want a fairy tell. Also, if it was a happy end, that would be the end of the story and thatís it. Here, it is open-ended; people can imagine their life in the future.

Interviewer: You are doing opening for Ef. Does that make you wanting to do series?
Shinki-san: He is talking about the intro I am sometimes asked to do for PC Game. Making short movie is fun. 5cm/s took one year and a half. I am satisfied with what I do and I prefer to do a feature film than series.

Interviewer: By internationalizing your movie, arenít you afraid or loosing the Japanese audience?
Shinkai-san: I have not thought about it. There re a lot of movies from many directors each year. I want to continue doing my films the way I want. People will choose for themselves whether they want to see my movies or others.

Interviewer: Is there room for independent film nowadays?
Shinkai-san: There are opportunities though Internet. It was there for She and Her Cat too.

Interviewer: Do you know Laputa? (Note: that was not the question, but the translator got lost)
Shinkai-san: Yes, itís my favorite movie. When I have seen this movie in high school, it was a life changing experience. I would like to give the same experience to my audience but I am not ready yet.

This concluded this very nice evening. He went out under the applauses and get to the bookstore to sign Voices[...] manga and Shinkaiís Complete Collection DVD for the happy ones that had bought some before the movie (it seems that the store had none left when I went :,-( ).

Hope this summary was interesting for you!
Don't hesitate to replicate this text elsewhere; the more exposure for Shinkai-san, the best it is Smile

Eden
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Janny
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting read, it seems that he likes cats and Sci-Fi, yay! I'd love for him to visit my country because I want to give him a bear hug ^_^
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Laz
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eden,

Thank you so much for that and welcome to the Forum!!!!!! I envy your being able to attend the event.

A few questions for you .. was there much audience reaction during the showing of the film (cheering, clapping , sighing, etc.) or was it pretty quiet the whole time ?

How was the quality of the presentation ? Did the film "look" good when shown (good quality video) ? Did it sound good?

Was the venue full for the film and the interview?

Thanks again for your post. If there's anything else you can remember, please do. I'll send our friends at the Makoto Shinkai Fan Web the link.

Laz
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ここにいるよ. - Voices of a Distant Star
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Eden2004
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Location: Woking, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laz,

Thank you ^^

Yes, this was pure luck too. I went to the BFI SB to attend a Sony event (I am a game programmer) 10 days ago and when looking for the venue on the web, I found that they were doing this special anime week-end starting with this interview and with some seats still available. Lucky Very Happy

The BFI SB has 3 screens and this film was shown in the largest one. It's actually quite some honour as they don't seem to use it often. As a film institute, they tend to show old or experimental films and small rooms are enough for the public attending Smile

So it was a 350-seats room. As I bought my seat so late, I had to settle for one on the side near the screen (4th row). The central part was absolutely full but my narrow lateral part was only half full, so I would estimate there was around 300 peoples attending. The same for the interview but 2 groups of peoples left in the middle of it!!! Not sure if they were fearing to miss their next film or if they went buying DVD before the rush. But anyway that felt very rude to me.

The video was good quality, the sound was... not so good. I have the feeling that speakers were mainly over the screen, and because I was so close to the screen it was pretty loud at time, and of course not spatially balanced.

During the film, audience was pretty quiet (I donít know where you live Laz, but in my home country thatís pretty common; thatís out of respect for the audience and for the film, so no cheering or clapping. Laughing and crying is fine of course Smile I suppose itís the same in the UK). Couples were intimate (head on shoulder, things like this), as expected for a romance. There was someone sniffing (is that the right word? Like when you have a running nose, because you cry or because you caught a cold) a couple of rows behind me. Audience was mostly peoples in their 30s I would say, but with a large range overall, between late teens to maybe 50s. There was a small percentage of Asian including Japanese. Iíd say 5 to 10%.

There was of course long applauses during the credit at the end and each time Shinkai-san came or went. A pity there was no standing ovation IMO, but the BFI forbid standing in the room and maybe thatís not very common here. Overall, during the interview the audience was playing well the game, laughing to his joke... Ambiance was good.

Before the film, the BFI was giving a 2-pages presentation of Shinkai-san. I did not get it unfortunately, but I tried to read it over the shoulder of my neighbour and they were basically comparing him to Miyazaki and presenting his various films and his past in general. It was also mentioning that he came first to the BFI in 2005, presenting Voices.

Photo were forbidden (although I think the Japanese couple behind me took one). There was an official photograph and a camera filming the interview ďfor their archiveĒ. So if someone goes to the BFI with a solid alibi, I believe it should be possible to see it ^^. The BFI has a complete section dedicated to research about film and cast.
During the short screening of She and Her Cat, there have been quite some laughs in the room. It seems it has been a good choice to show it as most people had never seen it.

I donít have much to add I think. Shinkai-san was seemingly quite happy to sign the DVDs, being all smile and bows (at least at the beginning, when I was there Smile ) and people were leaving with a big smile holding their precious collector Very Happy. That was great to see despite me not having one.

Eden
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Laz
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eden,

Thanks again for the info on the event. I really debated about going over for the event or not Sad Sounds like it was pretty good.

Did you happen to see any of the other films they were showing?

Laz
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You're a woman, I'm a calf ... you're a window, I'm a knife ... we come together making chance into starlight ... - Jeff Buckley

ここにいるよ. - Voices of a Distant Star
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Eden2004
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laz,

It was, definitely. Then again, I work in London so it was a no-brainer for me. If I had to cross half of Britain or fly from my country just to attend it, I would probably not have made the effort. Would have been a different story if there was a possibility to spend an extended time with him of course Razz. Another chance in the coming years maybe?

No, that was the only one I saw there. I went more for the interview than for the film to be honest, as I had already seen it twice  Smile

For pure film seeing, I think I would choose another venue if possible; the sound is not good enough. This said, I have told people at my work place and some will go see other films (but it seems I am the only Shinkai fan here, they mostly like action films; Vexille, Appleseed...)

On side note, there is another short summary from another guy here: http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=644776. I can confirm the "I love London" part, that was a good laugh (but that I understood more as a kind of excuse in the way "well I didn't really find the inspiration I was looking for, but don't be mistaken, I love London"), but I can't recall him saying that he doesn't love Japan. Then again, the translation was a bit of a mess so as a non-native, I might have missed something.

And somehow, it seems there was still some DVDs after all >_<

Eden
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Junpei
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for posting this for everyone to read. You're very lucky to be able to attend the interview with Shinkai-san and screening of 5cm.

Do you have any idea how long Shinkai is going to stay in the UK?
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Nick
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool. Thanks for the interesting read. Did you say you were originally from somewhere else, but now live in London? Where are you originally from?
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zitch
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a nice writeup of the interview here.

Oh, and thanks Eden2004 for giving us a quick rundown of the interview!
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Eden2004
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Location: Woking, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks zitch! Indeed, I am glad someone had the opportunity to take better notes! There are some details that I didn't correctly hear on site too so that's interesting even for me Razz

Junpei, I didn't get that part but the write-up linked by zitch contains the answer. I have only a few more months to get the opportunity to meet him in the streets down there...

Nick, sorry if you were hoping for "Japanese", I have only crossed the Channel (because my company closed my local office but they still need me)  Smile

Eden

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