Toshinari Yonishi was absorbed in “STAR WARS” and got a dream to become a film director when he was an elementary school student. It was when he was in his late forties that he remembered the dream which he had given up a long time ago. He said to himself that it would be regrettable if he didn’t give it a try and decided to create his own film as a director. He has started filming with no experience. His efforts resulted in “Sapphire”.
Tell us a bit about the path that led you to your first feature film. How difficult was it to shoot “Sapphire”?
It was my first experience shooting a movie and supervising. All the performers are my friends, not professional actors. There were only two crew members with me and one dealing with the sound recording. At first, I intended to shoot a test video of about 10 minutes. However, on second thought, I made the most of this rare opportunity.
So I dared to shoot a feature film, but it took three years to complete after a continuous process of trial and error.
”Girl with Guns” is a theme that has global appeal, particularly among exploitation fans. What made you choose to shoot such a film?
Because I wanted to shoot a refreshing movie where sexy, weak women defeat the strong men with speed and skill in shooting, not power.
The film features a combination of Japanese and foreign cast. How did that came about?
I made friends with Russians by chance, and since they wanted to appear in the movie, I decided to cast them. And I love Hollywood movies, so I also wanted to use foreigners.
The film is low budget, but features impressive cinematography, editing, sound and SFX. How did you manage to accomplish that?
My cinematographic apparatus is a mirrorless SLR with a 5-axis Sync IS for camera shake correction, and I shot the movie with a hand held camera. I used Adobe Premiere to edit, After Effects for VFX, and mostly Video Copilot as the material of CG synthesis. I focused particularly in the VFX of Muzzle flash. There are some CG synthesis tools of muzzle flash which I made by myself. I purchased royalty-free Epic Music. I also did my own color grading.
The music in the film is almost constant. Why is that?
I used a specific music theme for each character in order to give a dramatic essence to each scene.
The film’s poster is also impressive. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I decided to present a photo of the protagonists wearing sunglasses in order to induce them with an atmosphere of mystery.
What is your opinion of the Japanese movie industry at the moment?
I can hardly find any flashy gun action movies at the moment, so I hope that gun action movies using VFX will increase in the future.
What kind of movies do you like to watch and which filmmakers have influenced you the most?
I’d like to watch Sci-Fi and gun action movies. Sapphire was influenced by the Wachowski Brothers.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to attend more and more overseas film festivals.
The film will screen at the 18th Japan-Filmfest Hamburg, that will be on 31.05-04.06.2017, with Toshinari Yonishi and Hitomi Uno attending