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Old September 30th, 2002, 11:00 AM   #1
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Shooting in Japan?

Going to do an 8 day shoot in Japan next week. Just wondering if there were anyone out there with experiences, do's n don'ts etc...to share?
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Old September 30th, 2002, 05:00 PM   #2
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Michael Fimognari, the cinematographer on my last shoot, directed a short film called Ocha Cups for Christmas (http://www.ochacups.com), currently making the festival rounds. All of its exteriors were shot on location in rural Japan. I wasn't on the shoot, but I gleaned a lot of advice from Michael just by talking to him. He also had two funny stories...

- Make sure either a producer speaks the language or there is a good team of guides/translators to help the production out. Without being able to communicate, you'll waste valuable time trying to accomplish small tasks.
- Depending on the climate, there may be very different shooting conditions in early morning, midday, evening. Note mist conditions as well as light schedules.
- Funny story 1: Michael brought the cans of 35 mm stock with him carry-on onto the flight. He didn't trust any screening procedures not to ruin the raw stock. When he went through the airport security checkpoint, the security officer told him she was going to have to open the can of film. "You can't do that," Michael said, "or it'll expose the film." The officer didn't know what to do, so she came back with her supervisor and was explaining the situation. "We can't open it or it'll expose." Supervisor, very loudly: "IF WE OPEN IT IT'LL EXPLODE???!!" Heads turn, lines stop still. Michael does his best to, uh, diffuse the situation...
- Funny story 2: Japan is a cash-based economy, especially in the non-urban parts, so Michael took several thousand dollars in Yen for petty cash/emergency money and distributed it among trusted members of the crew for safe keeping, so as not to keep all eggs in one basket. Toward the end of the shoot, a final important expense needed to be paid, so Michael turned to one of his crew for the last of the money. The crew member pulled off his boot, turned it upside-down, and shook out $400 worth of Yen dust. Apparently Yen is paper, unlike dollars which are cloth, and thus isn't as durable as American money. So the moral of the story is, when you shoot in Japan, keep your budget on hand (and not on foot).
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Old September 30th, 2002, 08:04 PM   #3
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Where in Japan are you shooting? If it's in the Tokyo/Yokohama area there are a few of us here who can help you.

Robert's advise is pretty much spot on. Do have cash, do have someone who speaks the language/knows customs and do allow lots of time for travel as it takes a long time to get anywhere here. Actually don't expect anything to happen in a hurry. there are many rules and pencils are very sharp, especially when dealing with govt. depts.

The weather here is pretty unstable this time of year, there is a typhoon this week, it was 11 degrees last week then 25 yesterday, so be prepared for everything.
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Old September 30th, 2002, 09:27 PM   #4
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I haven't found out which part of japan yet. But if it is in Tokyo/ Yokohama, i'll definitely give u a call.

I'm shooting a soccer show for the cable network and it'll be just me and the producer who will double up as a soundman. We have a translator on the shoot and that's about it. Expecting a tough 8 days.

Thanks for the advice guys....
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Old October 1st, 2002, 02:25 AM   #5
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If you will be in the Osaka/Kyoto area me and the other Dvinfo member are here and you can call us anytime for advice/help.

I hope your translator is not Japanese, you might have some problems with them, although they might be able to properly translate what is being said, helping on a guerilla type shoot (just you and producer doing everything) might be new to them. I suggest when you want to do something, don't ask them about it first, just do it, I always just go out and shoot.

The majority of people here will look up the answer in the book (standardized way the japanese do things) and not deviate from the answer while us film makers/DV guerillas will make up several different answers/solutions.

You should also tell your translator to speak up if they have a good idea, I can just imagine a situation where they could have saved you a lot of time but because you didn't ask them, they didn't tell you. You might think I'm joking but after a few days here you will know what I mean.

Speaking of soccer, a friend of mine in Osaka is working with the Osaka soccer team, Gamba Osaka. He is writing their theme song, if you want to get in touch with him I can give you his info. He's American.

I also worked on a documentary about the fans of the world cup. Shot the fans in the games in Osaka and Kobe and I was in Yokohama for the finals with the director and the first unit, had a great time, I ended up in a karaoke room seeing the game with 10 other people from Oz, Sweden, Peru.

here's an older post about shooting in Japan:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2680

more tips in there, have fun on the shoot, don't forget to make a stop in either Akihabara in Tokyo or Den Den Town(Nipponbashi) in Osaka, those are the electronic stores area. A whole neighborhood filled with computer/audio/video stores, you can get pretty much everything you need there, and lots of stuff you don't need, but just gotta have.
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Old October 1st, 2002, 06:55 PM   #6
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I'll be in a town called Shimizu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Heard it's a soccer crazy town. Still haven't found out whether the translator is Japanese or from my neck of the woods.

Thanks Rik!

Yean Tan
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Old October 1st, 2002, 08:32 PM   #7
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The Shimizu S-Pulse are the home team there. Here's a link to a soccer(football) website: www.soccerphile.com these guys will know all about J-league soccer. I met one of the webmasters at a bar while out with friends, and the other, Philip Beech, at the station nearest the stadium during the Brazil/Belgium game. Out of all the thousands of people running around there, we happen to stop him and interview him, good coincidence.

good luck with your shoot. btw, what camera/gear are you guys using?
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Old October 2nd, 2002, 07:59 PM   #8
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We will be bringing down a digibeta, either the 709 or 790, a small camera paglite, clip mics and boom mic. That's about it. Only the two of us, so we wanna travel light.
Are there any rental houses i can go there in case of emergencies??
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Old October 2nd, 2002, 08:48 PM   #9
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The only one I know of around here in the Osaka area that will have english speaking staff is this:

http://approd.com/

you can send them an email and maybe they can recommend a place closer to where you will be.

There are places in Tokyo but I'm not familiar with them, either Adrian Douglas or John Locke up in Tokyo would know.
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Old October 3rd, 2002, 04:27 AM   #10
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Found this link for a Tokyo rental house, they seem to have staff who can answer your email in english. at least their homepage is in english:

http://www.kandl.co.jp/en/index.htm
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Old October 3rd, 2002, 08:22 AM   #11
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thanks for all your help Rik. If you wanna give me your number, i might give u a ring if i'm in Tokyo area.

cheers,
Yean Tan

yeans@singnet.com.sg
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Old October 3rd, 2002, 09:01 AM   #12
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Yean,
I live pretty far from Tokyo, but John Locke and Adrian Douglas work there, adrian lives a little south of Tokyo. I'll send you my number just in case.
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Old October 5th, 2002, 01:30 PM   #13
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Don't forget to bow and smile alot! Carry a lot of business cards, it makes you a "PRO" and they love to swope cards.

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Old October 13th, 2002, 10:55 PM   #14
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Back from the land of the Rising Sun!!. Everything went pretty smoothly. There were a few panics the first night though when i realized the producer who was supposed to bring the step-up transformer for the charger didn't!
Being in a small town like Shimizu, i was pretty sceptical we could get it anywhere. Anyway the cab criver brought us to supposedly the biggest electronics shop in Shimizu and they had one! Literally only one!
We spent three days in Shimizu where we did interviews with the players, shot their training sessions and covered the home team's game against a Maldivean side.
From there, we took the train to Iwata and basically repeated the procedure.
One gadget that caught my eye at the Iwata game was a portable lcd monitor a team of SATV people were using. It was powered by NP-1s and had BNC, XLR and RCA inputs!. I've been looking for something like that for a very long time. The crew told me it was manufactured by Sharp, though they didn't know where i could buy it. But it was NTSC anyway, and i wanted a multi-system one. If anyone out there in Japan can tell me how i can get one. That'll be great!!


Yean Tan

A lot of bowing and arigatos later, i'm finally home!
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