More behind-the-scenes from our last shoot

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Before locking ourselves away for a couple of weeks to work on editing footage that now amounts to most of the film, just time to post some more behind-the-scenes photos from last week’s shoot.

It was a great day filming. On the cast front, alongside Leo, Kaya Yuzuki returned to play Matron Hisamatsu, and, as we mentioned in our last blog, we had two new cast members; up and coming actress Charissa Shearer (watch out for her!) and we were honored to have the very talented character actresses Susan Jameson, who has been a regular face in British drama for many years, to play the part of Helen Keller.

On the crew front, South and City College Birmingham students proved to be a great asset on set once again with hair and make-up students Tania Ashworth and Samantha Wilson doing a fantastic job for us!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be preparing for our last day of filming which will take place in September – so watch this space for more info!

Most of the wonderful photos below are courtesy of fellow local film-maker Phil Pugh. Phil is also completing filming on his own feature film, much of which was shot on a custom built set- just down the road from our own!

If, like us, you are a fan of true independent and original films, then you might want to check out Phil’s film here!

Birmingham South and City student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa

South and City college Birmingham student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai)

Birmingham South and City student Sam Wilson working on Charissa's period hair style

Fellow South and City college Birmingham student Sam Wilson working on Charissa’s period hair style

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Director Ian Higgins discussing a scene with Charissa Shearer

Ian discussing a scene with Charissa and Leo

Veteran actress Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Charissa and Leo just before a take

Charissa and Leo waiting to film a scene

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Our two assistant camera  men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Our two assistant camera men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Director Dominic Higgins setting up his camera while Josh sets up another angle

Dominic setting up his camera while Josh sets up for another angle. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Leo with Steve Green on clapper duties

Leo with Stephen Green on clapper duties. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

9th August

Short clip set on the morning of the day the bomb was dropped (Clip is pre-sound mixed).

68 years ago today at precisely 11.02 am, the 2nd Atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan, detonated over the Urakami district of Nagasaki.  Six days later the war finally came to an end and the American occupation began.

Nagasaki is often referred to as the “Forgotten A-Bomb city”, but one man helped to generate worldwide interest in the event. That man was Dr. Takashi Nagai- mainly confined to a bed, living with his two children in a small hut near ground zero, he wrote extensively about the disaster and the need for world peace.

What Makes Dr. Nagai’s work so unique and extraordinary is that his words are never bitter or angry. His books are deeply spiritual and make for profound reading. This is why when they were published they made such an impact on a war ravished and demoralized country.

He was visited by the Emperor himself  who gave an impassionate speech to the people of Nagasaki during his visit. Western celebrities also made the pilgrimage to see the ‘Holy Man of Nyokodo”.

The Emperor visits Takashi in Nyokodo.

The Emperor (Gakuji Nomoto) visits Takashi (Leo Ashizawa) in Nyokodo.

Emperor speech

The Emperor speaks to the people of Nagasaki. A dignified and stirring performance from Japanese actor Gakuji Nomoto

It is also one year ago today that we shot our first scenes with cast and crew. Yesterday marked the penultimate day of the shoot, and the day was partly dedicated to re-creating the visit of American icon, Helen Keller to Takashi’s hut.

Helen Keller, the first goodwill ambassador from America visits Takashi

Helen Keller, the first goodwill ambassador from America visits Takashi

Helen Keller was a remarkable woman, who overcame blindness and deafness to become a prominent and renowned writer and social activist.  Helen was a much loved and respected figure in Japan and her visit to Japan after the war, was the first official visit from a US goodwill ambassador and very much a state affair

Playing the part of Helen is British actress Susan Jameson. Susan played the part with such grace and eloquence and together with Leo Ashizawa, who is of course playing Takashi; they crafted a truly beautiful and heartfelt scene.

Susan Jameson and Charissa Shearer as Helen Keller and Judith Tyler

Susan Jameson and Charissa Shearer as Helen Keller and Judith Tyler

Yesterday we also worked with upcoming actress, Charissa Shearer. Charissa plays a fictitious character called Judith Tyler, an Australian working for the Allied powers in Japan.

Again, Charissa turned up on set, looking every inch the part; she was great to work with and gave a wonderful, sensitive performance. We see a great future for Charissa as an actress and wish her all the best!

Some behind the scenes shots from our most recent shoots!

Leo Ashizawa as Takashi Nagai. Here Takashi struggles to come to terms with the emotional damage of war.

Leo Ashizawa as Takashi Nagai. Here Takashi struggles to come to terms with the emotional damage of war.  Photo credit: Josh Pitt

Actress Kaya Yuzuki as Matron Hisamatsu

Actress Kaya Yuzuki as Matron Hisamatsu

Ian and Leo go through a scene.

Ian and Leo go through a scene.  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Dominic shows Anna (Kayano) how to operator a camera!

Dominic shows Anna (Kayano) how to operate a camera!  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Luke, Ian, Dan, Dominic and Josh shooting a scene on one of our outdoor locations.

From left to right; Luke, Ian, Dan, Dominic and Josh shooting a scene on one of our outdoor locations.  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Summer filming!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and  Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!       Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, when “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In three days time it will be the anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing. For us, it will be exactly a year to the day that we started filming with cast members (although principal photography on the film began when we were in Japan, the previous November).

It’s been an amazing year made possible by the many incredibly generous donations given to us by individuals who have reached into their own pockets to help raise the funds we so badly needed. These individuals we will always have our most sincere gratitude for their belief in us and the story we want to tell.

We are now busy preparing for what will be our penultimate filming day! This will take place on August 8th but we thought it was about time we posted another update, so that you could all see what we’ve been up to since our last blog.

Over the course of three days we’ve shot most of the remaining key scenes of the script.

Making the most of the beautiful weather (some of the hottest days in the UK in seven years!) we took our equipment outside the studio and filmed several scenes up in the surrounding Lickey Hills, a local beauty spot that has a real exotic mix of trees and plants.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day. Photo credit: Stephen Green

We also took advantage of the weather to film some great shots with a beautiful vintage 1946 motor car. Many thanks to Peter Willoughby for the use of his car, and also special thanks to Mr and Mrs Khan for not only allowing us to film this scene on their land, but for being so welcoming too.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car. Photo credit: Dan woodward

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car. Photo credit: Josh Pitt

With just two more days of filming left, the end is now truly in sight, and for directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, for whom this project has been a three year undertaking (from initial research to final edited movie), it’s a mixed feeling of relief, excitement and sadness.

“This has been very much a personal journey for us both, we’ve worked with some great actors and crew, and met some wonderful people along the way. But as both writers and directors of the film, we also feel like we’ve come to know Dr. Nagai and his family on a very personal level and it’s like we’ve spent time with them,” says Dominic.

“Of course, we still have a lot of work to do in the edit room piecing the film together and generating more effects shots, as well working on the sound design and music score, but as we’ve been working on much of this as we’ve gone on, it means we’re looking at a couple of months locked away in the edit room, as opposed to the twelve months or so that you’d expect if we’d shot this in more conventional manner,” explains Ian.

Now it’s back to the storyboards and shots lists!

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with Nigel

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with producer Nigel Davey. Photo credit: Stephen Green

Dominic making sure he's happy!

Dominic making sure he’s happy! Photo credit: Stephen Green

Camera man Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle

Two of our camera guys in action –  Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle, as little Anna waits patiently . Photo credit: Stephen Green

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian lets Anna know he's happy with her shot!

Ian lets Anna know he’s happy with her shot!  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action!

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present!

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present, one of her crisps! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who's finishing off her crisps!)

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who’s still finishing off her crisps!)

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

On the morning a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day.

On the morning of a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Dominic with Henry Wu, who plays the older Makoto and Debbie-Mai Gordon, who plays the older Kayano

Dominic with Henry and Debbie-Mai as they prepare to film their first scene.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

One of our outdoor sets

One of our outdoor sets. Photo credit: Stephen Green