An interview with Lorenzo Fantini about EDOnism
An interview with the producer of the film EDOnism (Italy/Japan-2010; dir. Alessandro Fantini). See Undead Backbrain article.
How long have you been in Japan?
I’ve been in Japan for over twelve years now.
What is your occupation when you’re not Executive Producing?
I’m a Lecturer at University here in Tokyo. I’m also a writer / artist. During my time here, I’ve been involved in many different Art / media related projects. Most recently I worked with Nate Jensen recording elements for a Film Documentary: The David Carson Project. Our part involved interviewing Takashi Murakami at his studio for the film.
How long was the production from beginning to end?
We began pre-production last October. Post was completed by June this year.
How long was Alessandro in town to direct ?
Alessandro was in Tokyo for just over one month.
How long was principle photography? When did it finish?
Principle photography lasted just under three weeks. We were shooting every day, often the shooting would last from the early hours in the morning to midnight. We were lucky with weather; it was mainly dry, but extremely cold, particularly unpleasant for our lead actor, Sacha, who could only wear a shirt for his scenes.
I think we were blessed during Principle Photography, we were shooting on an extremely tight schedule with little room for mishap or delay. Considering the variables it went incredibly smoothly.
How did you find the actors?
I’d met Helene Fujita Salvini (Geena Landlord) the year before at a Tokyo Professionals Networking event. An extremely photogenic and detailed orientated artist, she’d had been doing a lot of Theater and short film work. She’d expressed interest in working with Alessandro and I, being a big fan of our respective artistic styles.
It was through Helene that I met Sacha Muhlebach, (James Hallway) they’re good friends, and were very comfortable working with each other. Sacha’s commitment to the film production has been something else, an amazing physical actor, he put his life and soul into the character, we were fortunate to have someone so committed and reliable, as he’s in virtually every scene.
Hiro Super came out of a further introduction by Helene. Hiro is a unique performing artist / actor with a striking look that fitted very well to our vision of The Cat Fish. I really recommend watching his Mozzman films. They’re very special.
Lucy King (co-producer) is a very good friend and has been a huge support to both Alessandro and I throughout our artistic journeys. She agreed to play the supporting character, Sophie Walls. Tony Evans, Kyle H, Nate Jensen, Bianca Allen and Kana Yoshida are friends of myself and other cast members, and committed their precious time to the production.
How did you finance the film?
The film was financed by myself and Alessandro, the support and assistance by my network, allowed us to make a little go an extremely long way.
Have you submitted it to any film festivals?
The film has been submitted to the following festivals: Tokyo FilmX (2010); Portugal: Fantasporto Film Festival (2011); the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival (2011).
I take it the film was shot on HD video. Any plans to transfer to film?
The film was shot on the Sony Z1 HD Camcorder. The screening will be on Blu-ray, which looks a million dollars.
How did you edit the film (on what technology and who did it)?
Alessandro edited the film all by himself on his PC in Italy. In addition to editing the film, he also created a hand-drawn animated sequence and composed an ambient soundtrack. The soundtrack is really quite special — DJ Dominic Allen did a special mix for the screening event on 19th September at 57 Lounge and Restaurant. What he did with it was very exciting.
How important was storyboarding for this production? Who did the storyboarding? How long did it take? Were they all done before shooting started?
Storyboarding was extremely important to the production. Alessandro has an incredible eye for visuals. During the pre production I shot a lot of photos of possible locations for the film. Using those Alessandro was able to storyboard key sequences for the film. Samples of these are available online at our website. This process was around three months.
Who wrote the script and where did you/he/she get the ideas?
Alessandro came up with the story concept, and first draft. After that we worked together fine-tuning the dialogues into the shooting script.
Alessandro has a unique skill set as an artist and creator; he’s someone who has always been, from a very early age, able to conceive of an initial kernel of an idea, nurture it both in visual and narrative terms, then render it with film and music. From the beginning to the end, it’s his hand shepherding the work. It could sound as if I’m writing promotional copy, but I’m downplaying his skill and talent in this regard. As an artist he’s produced something like 400 surrealist oil paintings over the last thirteen years, at the same time he’s written a series of novels, and over a dozen short films, of which several have been shown on TV on European satellite channels. Remarkable still, is the fact he has always worked independently, sacrificing the comfort of a studio or network to pursue his concepts on his own terms.
The initial concept came out of Alessandro’s experience of the L’Aquila Earthquake in Italy last year. The traumatic effect of that experience translated into his exploration of Earthquake mythology. Some of the central imagery of the film came from a painting by William Kurelek, “The Maze”. This depicted a section of the human skull and the figure of a Cat Fish. He then discovered quite by accident that the Cat Fish was related to earthquakes and associated to key events in the history / mythology of Japan.
Furthermore the idea of setting the film in Tokyo had come about through a desire to work together on a film / media project. Alessandro’s aesthetic and creative inclination has been heavily influenced by Phillip K Dick, and of course Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. He had really wanted to capture the atmosphere of the metropolis as a living breathing character for long time. My residency here, and knowledge of the city finally allowed him to realize this desire.
The dream / altered conscious state concepts are a reoccurring theme in Alessandro’s work. His paintings, novels, and short films often explore these concepts. Alessandro lives and works out of a secluded studio in the rural area of Abruzzo, central Italy, the topography, and the ambience of the landscape have always had something of the dreamworld about them, I can’t emphasize enough the power of this environment on his inner psyche.
I wrote the foreword for the second edition to his collected art works. You can read it here.
The character of James Hallway, is an amalgam of anecdotal stories that I’ve recounted to Alessandro over my years here of what a city can do to someone if they go over the edge. The combination of our experiences and respective journeys has somehow filtered through into this film.