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

An evolving movie…

A- bomb FX sequence

The A-bomb sequence is one that is very much in a constant state of change and development as we seek to do justice to the real event.

Monday will see us filming more scenes, including a newly added scene for part of the ending sequence. This won’t be the first new scene that has been added during our filming process, as for Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, the process of telling this story has been very much a process of remaining open to new influences and new information, allowing the story in many ways to tell itself.

From the director’s blog:

Of course it all starts with the script, which first goes through several drafts before arriving at a “shooting script”. But despite all these re-writes, for us, the shooting script is more a guide, charting the movie’s various dramatic arcs and character dialogue with ideas for camera angles and sound design for each of the scenes.

More ideas will almost certainly be implemented, when working with the cast, because  directing actors is not just a matter of telling them what we want them to do and say, but rather a collaboration, a meeting of artistic and emotional interpretations.

As directors our most important job is to foster such an environment on set that actors feel the same sense of creative freedom that we grant ourselves when writing a script, storyboarding and editing – creative freedom is essential.

Actors will also, of course, do research as part of the preparation for their roles, which means they could very well come across information we missed during our own research. In fact this has been the case on several occasions during the filming of All That Remains.

On one such occasion a brand new scene was added after actress Kaya Yuzuki told us about an incident involving her character that she read in a book only available in Japanese. The scene is now amongst the most powerful in the entire movie.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

Still more ideas will come when editing the footage together, sometimes these ideas will result in new scenes being written or existing scenes being re-written as we’re filming other scenes.

Other ideas will come when working on the sound design of the movie that may affect the visual edit.

Finally, changes and new ideas may be implemented after the film has played to a “test audience”. It really is an organic living thing that is in a constant state of change and improvement.

Field of a thousand suns

The scene above was going to be originally set on veranda of a house, but the day before we shot the scene, we had the idea of having the characters sit outside in a garden or a park surrounded by sunflowers, so the scene would take on a deeper symbolic significance (we’re very big on symbolism) – it’s the morning that the A-bomb will be dropped and these women are sitting in a “field of a thousand suns” a visual reference to common description of the A-bomb flash being brighter than a thousand suns.

hajime1 hajime2This scene, where Takashi is visited by his younger brother Hajime, was written well into the filming process – one of the benefits of stretching the filming out over a period of months (due to budget) is that we get to edit the footage as we are filming.

This means we get to see if a sequence is working right or if it needs something else, like an extra scene, and because we’re still filming, we get the chance to schedule that extra scene into one of the upcoming shoots.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

What originally started out as a docu-drama has now, through this process of change and evolution, become a full on feature length drama. It is a project that has continually expanded in both scope and vision and will continue to do so, until the very moment the final touches have been added and the release date has been set!

Location, location, location…

Flag of hope

Actor Andrew Futaishi raising a symbol of hope in the aftermath of the atom bomb.

These last two weeks we’ve been getting more scenes in the bag and with filming both in the green-screen studio and at various locations; it’s been our busiest and most grueling shoot yet.

Most of the time on location meant putting up with the bitter cold, wind and rain (despite it being almost summer!) we got some great shots though.  As always, our cast and crew were brilliant, running up and down mounds of rubble and dirt, and in the case of the actors, often dressed only in torn rags!

With the focus on the immediate aftermath of the bombing, our chief make-up artist Vera Fenlon was, once again, ably assisted by students from Birmingham South and City College.

“ We’ve just finished filming some of the most dramatic scenes in the entire movie,” explains co-director Ian Higgins, “and the shots couldn’t have come out any better.”

“The locations were perfect, even the weather, horrible and cold though it was, actually served to enhance the scenes,” adds co-director Dominic Higgins. “There was one scene for example, where Leo (Takashi Nagai) finds his wife’s melted rosary in the burned out remains of their house and he’s sitting there, holding the rosary in his hands crying, and suddenly it starts to rain, we all got soaked, but it looked amazing and the timing was perfect, no one cared about how wet and cold we were!”

In the studio, we also shot the first scenes set in “Nyokodo” – the tiny hut in Nagasaki that Takashi Nagai spent the remaining years of his life, with his family, after the atom bombing. For these scenes we re-created the interior of the hut in the corner of our green-screen studio.

“It was a bit strange to sit with Leo in the Nyokodo set,” says Ian, “having sat in the real Nyokodo with Takashi’s grandson, it felt a bit unreal to be now sitting in a re-created version with our Takashi. But it looks great and it’s really nice not to have to worry about adding the background later!”

The next couple of weeks will be editing, grading and FX work on these new scenes and preparation for what will be the final 6 days of filming which will take place in June.

Special thanks to Coppers Farm for allowing us to film on their land!

Medical Team on location

Medical Team on location – we raised a couple of eyebrows on this location shoot!  (Picture credit: Monica Price)

Keeping warm

Actress Kimberley Wong keeping warm between takes.  (Picture credit: Chris Willmore)

On location

Hair stylist Nikki giving Leo some support before filming a scene.  (Picture credit: Chris Willmore)

Last minute direction before a take

Last minute direction before a take.  The cast braved freezing weather!   (Picture credit: Stephen Green)

Chief Make-up artist Vera keeps a close on eye on her work.

Chief Make-up artist Vera keeps a close on eye on her work.  (Picture credit: Stephen Green)

Lighting up "Nyokodo"

Lighting up “Nyokodo” (Picture credit: Chris Willmore)

Co-director Ian Higgins and Leo Ashizawa check an archive photo of Dr Nagai in Nyokodo before going for a take.

Co-director Ian Higgins and Leo Ashizawa check an archive photo of Dr Nagai in Nyokodo before going for a take.

Leo in Nyokodo

Leo Ashizawa in Nyokodo.

Leo getting into character

Leo getting into character (with false belly) while Wardrobe wiz Monica watches on. (Picture credit: Chris Willmore).

Below are some graded stills from the recent shoot…

Still 2

Still 1

Still 3

Fat Man is conceived – video clip

Below is the scene where Prof. Peierls writes up the memorandum which lays out the details necessary to construct a super bomb. This information would lead to the building of Fat Man, the atom bomb which destroyed Nagasaki.

The clip is pre-sound mixed

Our Indiegogo campaign is going great, thanks to everyone who has so generously contributed! Check it out by clicking the link below!

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Nagasaki No Kane – A song for Nagasaki and a thank you.

As a thank you to all those who have been so generous in their donations to the production costs of All That Remains so far, we’d thought we’d share this very special memory from our trip to Japan with you.

When visiting Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki” in Nara, to interview him for our movie, we did not expect to get such a fantastic welcome, a welcome which included a wonderful meal (washed down with sake) and the above performance by Opera singer Yumiko Okada of the song “Nagasaki No Kane” (The Bells of Nagasaki) which was the theme song for the 1949 movie on Dr. Nagai. We think you’ll agree, it’s a very beautiful and powerful song and a stunning performance by Mrs Okada.

Remember every penny really does go a long way to helping us reach the finishing post! If you have a few dollars to spare and fancy being a part of this amazing project click the link below!

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From design to final shot – a look at the special effects.

FX shot
Dream sequence in ‘All That Remains’ where Takashi Nagai comes face to face with the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

These last couple of weeks, our main focus in the edit room has been FX work – turning concept art into convincing special effect shots and recreating iconic scenes from archive photos.

Most of the “digital set pieces” are a mix of photographic, live action and computer generated 3D elements.

For the dream sequence pictured at the top of this post, a 3D model of “Fat Man” – the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was rendered to match the exact angle and lighting of the shot. Below, the Fat Man model is prepared for a final render.

A 3D model of "Fat Man"

All the elements for each shot were composited in PhotoShop, the shots were then completed in Adobe After Effects (an industry standard visual effects software) for coloring and final blending of all the elements.

For the shot illustrated above, we worked from an archive photo and built up the atom bombed landscape using a mixture of photographic material and 3D renders. Actor Leo Ashizawa was filmed in the greenscreen studio and superimposed into the scene to recreate an iconic photo of Dr. Nagai.

The above post was originally published on Life Through a Digital Lens .

 As we push on with the final leg of the filming, we’ve decided to launch another crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, to help cover the costs of getting the last few scenes in the bag.

As we always say, every dollar/pound really goes a long way, so if you can spare a few bob and fancy seeing your name included in the final credits, why not head over to Indiegogo now?

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Family moments…

Midori and Noboru

A cold reception –  Midori visits Takashi’s father.

As April kicks off, we get back to scheduling and preparing to shoot more scenes. This month the focus is on the aftermath of the A-bomb – so there are a lot of grueling days ahead.

During March we concentrated mainly on filming all the “Nagai family” scenes before the Atom bombing, including scenes between Takashi and his father, Noburu.

Noburu was a descendent of a Samurai and the first of the Nagai family to study and practice Western medicine techniques. He was a very influential figure for the young Takashi and encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps by becoming a doctor.

When Takashi converted to Christianity, Noburu however proved to be a staunch traditionalist and was vehemently against it. In fact, Takashi’s decision to convert caused a serious rift between father and son. A rift that was eventually mended by Midori.

Playing the part of Noburu is David Yip, star of the cult 80’s TV show, “The Chinese Detective”. It was a great honour for us to have David on board, and directors Ian and Dominic Higgins were very excited to get the chance to work with him.

“David was the first Asian actor in England to be given a main starring role in a prime time TV show, back in 1981”, explains Dominic, “and our film is also breaking new ground, by being the first Western movie to deal directly with the atomic bombing of Japan, so he seemed a prefect to choice for such an important role.”

“In fact, David remains the only South East Asian actor to have been given the lead role in a British drama,” adds Ian, “so I do hope that our film will now also shine a huge spotlight on the great talent this over looked sector of the acting community has to offer”.

David Yip talks to Ian & Dominic

David Yip talks to Ian & Dominic with producer Nigel Davey

Our Chief Make-up artist Vera Fenlon did a terrific job in helping David ‘step into the character’ of a stern Japanese father. “As a Chinese actor, I was a bit concerned about playing the part of a traditional Japanese father,” Says David, “but after Vera had finished her work, and I looked in the mirror, I saw a Japanese man staring back at me!”.

David Yip in All That Remains

Aided by Make-up artist Vera Fenlon, Chinese actor David Yip plays a Japanese father.

Yuna Shin as Midori Nagai

Yuna Shin as Midori Nagai

David Yip in All That Remains

David Yip in All That Remains

For those of you with access to the “Production Hub”, we’ve uploaded a very special clip that illustrates what a truly remarkable woman Midori Nagai was.

War – up close and personal

surgeon

As we prepare for our next shoot in Mid-March, the scenes we shot in early February are taking shape in our edit suite. The main focus of the February shoot was Takashi Nagai’s personal experiences of war during his service in the second Sino-Japanese War.

Takashi Nagai was called for military service in February 1933. Japan and China had been unofficially at war since 1931. Takashi was sent to China as a medical officer in the 11th Hiroshima Infantry Regiment. He would actually serve two tours of duty in China, the second being in 1937 when the unofficial war finally became official.

Takashi’s personal experiences of the horrors and brutality of war had a profound effect on him and influenced him greatly, so for directors Ian & Dominic Higgins it was important to portray at least some of his experiences in China.

“There’s no doubt that Takashi returned from his first tour of duty traumatised but also far more spiritual”, says Dominic.

“Up until his time in China, he was still the scientist exploring the possibility of life after death and religion through the clinical microscope of science, war changed that”, adds Ian.

The war scenes required the usual attention to detail and planning the directors insist on before cameras roll, which meant storyboarding, pre-visual art and shot lists…

hospital-board_shotlist sc-59-board

During the filming of the war scenes, the directors have kept their cameras focused on the human cost of war and our make-up artists Stephanie Bentham and Jenny Gillings, aided by Birmingham’s South and City college students Donna Woodman and Dolly Karoni, did a fantastic job helping us to bring a sense of reality to the scenes.

Below are some stills from the China war sequences…

war

Takashi1

scared-face

war3

war4

solider3

We’ll be posting an exclusive preview of a very special scene on the Production Hub page soon!

The filming gets back underway….

This Monday and Tuesday we’re shooting more scenes and that means we’ve been hard at work these last few days with plenty of planning and preparation. Before any shoot, we design the scenes. We do this by using storyboards and shot lists.

 
When it comes to the storyboarding we opt for 3D software as opposed to the traditional hand drawn ones, as the software we use allows us to work with “virtual” cameras and lights, meaning we get to test out different ideas with camera angles and lighting set-ups well in advance of the filming dates.

3D pre-viz

3D pre-viz

Using 3D software that utilizes virtual cameras, lights and actors (even if they sometimes resemble mannequins) really helps bring a scene to life.

For those of you who have access to the “Production Hub” we’ve uploaded the storyboards for the up-coming shoots.

All That Remains Trailer

Watch the first official trailer of All That Remains.

Check out director’s Ian and Dominic Higgins’ blog for their commentary on the trailer.