Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dead lock

After a long submission process that began in the summer, in October I received confirmation that the proposal I had submitted for an episode of the NHK World documentary series "Inside Lens" had been selected for commissioning.  NHK World (WEBSITE), a branch of the Japanese public broadcaster, creates original news and documentary programs, and for its series "Inside Lens" nearly every episode is directed by a foreign director living in Japan

With just two months to complete the film before a delivery date at the end of December and an airing date in January, I slowed production on a couple of my current film projects while placing others on hold.  Thankfully, from September, I have had a new intern, and his help as an assistant, sound recordist, assistant director and more, has helped me be as productive as ever while also enabling me to continue traveling to film festivals and screenings of my other films.

The documentary program (still untitled) is about a home hospice doctor in rural Japan who is caring for dozens of patients who wish to die in their own homes surrounded by their family and loved ones.  With advances in the medical system since WWII, dying at home has become increasingly uncommon in Japan.  In 1953, 85% of Japanese died at home; by 2013, that number had dropped to just 15%.  The services this doctor and her team are offering are quite rare in Japan.

Since filming the main interviews in the beginning of November (STORY), we have been in the edit suite for the last month.  Last night we "locked picture" on the film, which means that the narrative editing of the film is finished and we are moving on to the next stage of post-production, including colour-grading, sound mixing and subtitling.  A 28-minute version of the film will be screening globally on NHK World starting January 27.  I am also planning to continue filming with this amazing hospice doctor and her team of nurses to expand the film into a feature documentary.

The picture-locked project
A celebratory drink after the picture lock
Earlier this month, I also received the additional honour of being selected to represent all of this season's episodes of "Inside Lens" on national television.  Filmed a couple of weeks ago, I will appear on the television program "Doki Doki TV" with celebrity hosts Patrick Harlan and Chiaki Horan, in an episode that will air on January 17 on the main NHK channel in Japan. 

with TV personalities Patrick Harlan and Chiaki Horan
On set of Doki Doki TV
Getting prepped for filming
Although I did put much of my other filming work on hold while working on the episode of "Inside Lens", I continued teaching in between shoots in Fukushima and trips abroad to attend film festivals.  This semester saw me again teaching at the University of Tokyo.  This time I was teaching a class in Oral Histories, which culminated in the students working in groups to record an oral history.  I was also teaching at the Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy.  Teaming up with tech guru and Running Art sensation Joseph Tame (WEBSITE), we taught an introduction to filmmaking class geared to working professionals (HERE).  Our student Hitomi Nakatani created one of the more experimental pieces, and it is really cool (LINK). 

While we are still wrapping up post-production on the episode of "Inside Lens", my attention is already turning back to several of my films in various stages of post-production that have been on hold these past couple of months, including one I am still hoping to finish for the 5th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima...

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