Present at the festival with her fun, flashy and energetic film The Pinkie, was Japanese director Lisa Takeba. After making some short films, The Pinkie is her first feature film. Next to filmmaking, Takeba wrote the scenario of a Nintendo DS videogame and also writes novels for mobile phones. I met up with Takeba-san in the press room of the festival to ask her some questions about her new film and what the process of making a motion picture is like to her.
How is the festival up to now?
It is fun! This year, last year as well, it is a lot of fun.
If you compare it to your last visit here, is it a different experience?
Last year I was here with a short film (Wandering Alien Detective Robin, which you can view here). Also different from last year is that my film has more screenings this time, which is really nice.
The Pinkie is a very fun movie. What inspired you to make the film? Is there any special reason?
Nothing in particular, but always when I write a script I am wondering: why is this or that happening, or why is something like it is? When it comes to a clone, I was thinking: it can basically be created from anything, right? Hair, a leg, a finger.., So this made me think: what would be the most interesting thing to create a clone from? In the story, the main character gets his finger cut off by a yakuza, so I thought, let’s start from there.
It is indeed an interesting concept, since some funny situations happen to the clone because he is created from a pinkie…
Also a reason why I chose a pinkie to start from is because it is a very “Japanese body part”. In the past, the Japanese Geisha, or also prostitutes, used to have a lot of male acquaintances. To prove to a special customer that he was the only real lover for her, the geisha or prostitute would cut off her little finger and give it to him. In this way, it is basically a connection between lovers, like connecting a red string between two persons’ pinkies; it is a body part where someone’s heart is located.
In the film, the yakuza gang leader is a strong man but also has some female characteristics. Why did you create this character in such a way?
Always when I think about creating characters, I prefer characters to be nervous. Because creating a nervous person is more interesting. I didn’t want to create a gangster-type character like Bunta Sugawara, but more like that although the character is a gangster, he is actually a nice person. Or he is a gangster but doesn’t get violent. This character is very brutal and doesn’t really have a limit, so in this case I was thinking what I should do with him. For example, the son of a pastor has a lot of pressure from his parents. Because of this pressure they start doing bad things, like shoplifting or something. I wanted the character to be like that.
The film is funny and it looks like the cast was having a fun time portraying their characters. Do you have any funny behind the scenes moments that you can share with us?
A lot of funny things happened, but nothing big. All the actors were professionals but basically the crew wasn’t. So we had a lot of ‘where is this’ or ‘where is that’ moments. Also, sometimes I lost my script and the actor who plays the main gangster, Kanji Tsuda, who is a wonderful actor and very popular in Japan, lent me his script on the set. Even though he is a famous actor and of course had to check the script all the time himself, he still lent it to me. I was very happy with that.
Do you have certain themes or elements you always want to put in your films?
I like to put a certain amount of absurdity in my films. For example, when we are kids, we are able to find certain things in our life, like little paths. But then after we have become adults, no matter how much we search for that special thing later on, we can’t find it anymore and have lost it. Like when I was small, I had an experience of time traveling to the Edo period. When these kind of absurd things happen, I feel the meaning of life. So that’s why I want to put elements like this in my films.
What do you like most about making a film?
Everything has its fun parts and less fun parts but the most enjoyable thing is probably editing. After the shooting is finished, you wonder what to do with all the material you have. But then it is fun to work with the editor and discuss how to make it all work. Then when you add the soundtrack it becomes even more interesting. It gives it a certain “wow” factor and it becomes even more fun! Yes, that is probably most fun. On the set there are a lot of people so it is difficult cause a lot of unexpected things happen. But being together with the editor is just the two of us, so you can easily make it work and make a nice product.
Do you have any directors that inspire you?
Well there are many, but definitely Akio Jissoji. He made movies about Power Rangers and also monster movies. But next to this, he also made more ‘arty’ films. He has a great reputation in France, and he uses unique camera angels.
Have you decided on your next project yet?
This year I am working on an animation short, and next to this I am working on some music videos. I have no plans for my next film yet but I definitely want to make one again.
Do you have any ambitions you’d like to pursue?
I wanted to make a long film this time, but I had to cut out a lot of stuff, so my film this year is 65 minutes. I deeply regret that and I would definitely like to make a film that is around 90 or more minutes long.
You can view the trailer of The Pinkie down here, also my review of the film can be found here.