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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interview: "Rodosha" Director Darryl Knickrehm


JapanVisitor.com recently spoke with twenty-seven year-old filmmaker Darryl Knickrehm. He is the organizer and one of the featured directors at the upcoming Kansai International Film Festival. Rodosha and several other of his works will be screened at the Festival.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm from the LA area and went to Chapman University, where I majored in New Media and minored in Japanese. I was always interested in visual arts, and thus kanji was a draw for my interest in Japanese and Japan--and of course my language requirement.

After graduation, I decided to come to Japan as a way of pursuing my twin dreams: living in Japan and making films. Here I soon created DK Pro, which is my production company.

directorsphotoLet's move on to your films.

My first film was shot in the US and then edited in Japan.

After I'd been in Japan a while, I started to make creative contacts. In Osaka I met a composer named Philip van Louwen. Using his wonderful work, we made 152, which is a ghost story about three friends who end up in an abandoned train tunnel. The three enter the train tunnel, where they receive text messages on their phone, which should not technically be possible.

The film was shot on a shoestring. Friends of mine played the three roles and they gave it their all. However, more than anything, the film helped me to make contacts and move on to bigger projects.

Rodosha (The Laborer) was based in part on my own experiences working in Kobe. I wanted professional actors for this film--which ended up putting it on hold for financial reasons. As a result, 152 came out first.

With contacts, though, I met Dan Yukino who is a working stage actor in Osaka. He auditioned and was great--and also had an interest in working in film.

He agreed to play the lead role and was terrific. Rodosha has appeared at 6-7 short film festivals, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Miami Short Film Festival.

So you are making foreign films?

[Laughs] Yes, I guess so.

Back to the film, why a salaryman movie?

rodoshaposterWell, both of my parents worked, and like many people, they had to make tremendous sacrifices. The film was also of course, indirectly, observations of my own experiences as a "salaryman" here in Japan. I have a certain amount of frustration with the dehumanizing effects of being an organization man.

In order to make a living--and finance my film projects--I have taught in a large organization. Let's just say that it is a business that does not always treat its employees as well as it might.

What issues, if any, did you have with language when doing the film?

Well, I wrote the script in English. It was then translated into Japanese for the actors. I can explain some things in Japanese, but there are staff members who help me to convey the nuances.

What will you be showing at the Kansai International Film Festival?

Out of Context will be premiering at the Festival. We are now in post-production, the music is now being wrapped up, and it will be ready for the late-August showing.

152, In Absentia, and other of my films will also be screened.

What is the goal of the Festival?

We hope to accomplish three things at the Festival. First, give the films exposure; second, contrary to most Japanese mass media images of foreigners, show foreigners in Japan in a relatively positive light; and, third, to create an international event where people of many different backgrounds can mix.

Future films?

A project called the The Wishing Tree is in pre-production now. We hope to begin filming in September. It is a bit Twilight Zonish. It is about a couple with one child that is unable to have a second. The film is the story of how they will learn to accept this through the meetings they have with odd people at the wishing tree.

Future Plans?

This year is my last to work on short films. The goal of DK Pro is to get notice via the shorts, and then move onto feature length films. My personal goal is to be in production of such a film by the time I am 30.

Last, what or who are your main influences?

Hmm, I would have to put Stanley Kubrick on that list. I like the pacing and camera work in his films. Tim Burton would be another. He is very outside the box, very creative, and dark. I tend to like darker films.

Films that I have been influenced by would include the The Ring, Fight Club, etc. In an odd way these are horror films with a heart.

I make and enjoy tragic movies because they allow the viewer to experience vicariously, say, war or death.

I do like comedy, but in my films I want to make a contribution, to send a message.


Photos © Darryl Knickrehm

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