This morning was the press conference of Atsuro Watabe's debut movie as a director – Echo of Silence – and together with actress Saki Takaoka, they came to the Movie Cafe right after the stage greeting with the audience during the first general public screening earlier.
Here's a transcript of the press conference:
Q: This is a question for the director, I understand that it's been some time from the planning of this film to its completion. Could you take us back to when the project started?
Atsuro Watabe (AW): It's hard to say, I've always been thinking about making this and that was about 5 years ago. The film took 3 weeks to shoot.
Q: In your introduction to the movie you said that the film has no big story or message, but is there anything you wanted to tell, or perhaps some hidden message that you can share?
AW: I have always thought about wanting to make a story where feelings and the expressions people had, led the film. That's why it was in this form. There isn't really any message, and it's OK for the audience to feel whether the film is OK for them or not. What I wanted was to leave them thinking after watching this film.
Q: Which is easier, acting or directing, and what's your impression of directing now?
AW: I didn't really think about it that way, of comparing which is easier. It was more of going through the entire day, having the staff move in the same direction. Even looking back, I still don't think about comparing the roles.
Q: So although you did not compare, why made you want to direct, was it an option you had all along and had planned this?
AW: Maybe as someone from outside the film field, you would ask this question. Every one is a creator, and it doesn't really matter who actually directs. So I do apologize if there is no big motivation for it; I came up with the plot, so I went on to direct it
Q: Why did you want to cast Ms Takaoka, and her attractive points that she brought to the film?
AW: When I first came into the industry, shee was the 1st actress friend I had known. So we were in film together when she was 18. She's wonderful and diverse, great at creating different shapes in the environment she is in. When I wanted to make the film, she was the 1st who came to mind.
Q: Did you write the script to incorporate her into the movie, or did she have to get into the character of the script?
AW: It wasn't written consciously for her. In the end, sometimes certain things will work. So perhaps the scenes in the script were written for certain persons, but I wasn't consciously doing so from the beginning.
Q: Is there something unique about his directing style as compared to other directors, and what do you think of Atsuro Watabe as an actor versus director?
Saki Takaoka: As a director, he's always trying his best to create a good atmosphere for people to work together. You can feel that as the days go by, and I was on the set for 2 weeks. As a diorector, he's very relaxed, and not arrogant.
Q: I saw the film and it was very silent and beautiful in atmosphere. There seems to be a lot of adlibbing in Ms Takaoka's role, and she had asked many interesting questions back and forth. Could you tell us more about that?
AW: That's a very good question and an easy to answer one. My style is to trust everyone during filming. There's no adlibbing and every shot was followed after detailed discussions. The dialogue was not word for word, so long as they brought out the feelings and expressions desired. Scenes were done in one take, no repeated takes, so that's how it's done.
And a slideshow of photographs taken from the press conference: