The Bells of Nagasaki

The Resurrection scene

On Christmas eve night 1945, from the atom bombed ruins of Urakami Cathedral, the  Angelus bell rang out its message across the wasteland for the first time since that fateful day.

These are the bells that did not ring for weeks or months after the disaster. May there never be a time when they do not ring! May they ring out this message of peace until the morning of the day on which the world ends.” – Takashi Nagai  – The Bells of Nagasaki

This is one of the most important scenes in the film as it represents the ‘story of Nagasaki’ in a few powerful images.

Raising The Bell

It takes faith…

… to raise the bell

Actors, Tanroh Ishida and Mark Roy Tsai get to grips with one of the key scenes in the film, with no props, just an actors best tool, their imagination…

Raising The Bell

Looking down on Urakami…

Christmas Eve

“People say that Nagasaki is famous for persecution and devastation, for it has known much in it’s history. But Nagasaki is not the only place that has experienced both persecution and destruction… The reason Nagasaki is famous, is because it is rebuilt, because it has always survived.” – Takashi Nagai

Once again we would like to give special thanks to Fr. Paul Glynn, Mr and Mrs Yoshida and the people of Nara for their recent generous donations and for their on going support.

We will be uploading a few rough cuts of some of the scenes we’ve been working on very soon to the ‘Production Hub’.

Camera’s roll…

Production Room

Production Room

In the week that marked the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we officially began production on the live action drama scenes, for “All That Remains” (working title).

Production Trailer

Hair, Wardrobe and Make-Up department, courtesy of F.A.T.T.S (Film, Television and Transport Services).

Newest member of the team, Nigel found himself thrown right into the deep end with helping us to organize what is without question, the largest film shoot- in terms of scope and logistics, we’ve ever attempted, Nigel’s risen to the challenge. We are indeed lucky to have him on the team.

Nigel Davey

Nigel on set “Sorted!”

Weeks of preparation went into organizing the ‘atomic bomb shoot’, which is the first of the drama scenes to be filmed. A derelict industrial site in Birmingham (UK) was turned into a set piece depicting atom bombed Nagasaki. It was a perfect location, a football pitch sized land full of rubble and debris.

The site manager and owner were incredibly generous in allowing us free run of the property for the two days. They handed us the keys to the gates and basically said, “It’s all yours!”

On set

A corner of Oldbury Birmingham UK was turned into atom bombed Nagasaki

It was a great shoot thanks to a great crew; everyone was willing to get their hands dirty- just the sort of crew we like to work with! They all did an outstanding job!

Dirty Job

It’s a dirty Job at times

camera operator

Lilian, the youngest assistant camera operator in the history of film

We had a great Special Make-Up FX team who worked from artwork created by directors Ian & Dominic Higgins and archive photos to re-create the “Walking Ghosts” – the victims. We do not intend to make this film in anyway gratuitous, but want our audience to glimpse the horror of that day, the snapshots that are seared into the memories of the survivors.

We also have to give a special mention to the wonderful supporting cast drafted in from the Local Japanese community. They were patient with us and threw themselves into their parts like true professionals. We captured some beautiful performances that at times were very emotional. One of the cast, a lady named, Kikuko Wall, grew up in Hiroshima just after the war and explained that while she was holding the hand of a girl who was playing  a ‘dying victim’, she was connecting with the past. Tears filled her eyes as our cameras rolled.

On set

Preparing for a take

During a short coffee break, Kikuko presented us with a piece of paper that had the lyrics to a song about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then gave an impromptu performance for the entire cast and crew. It’s a beautiful song and she sung it beautifully, you can see Kikuko‘s performance in the video below .

“No more Hiroshima No More Nagasaki”

Below are some photos from the two day shoot. All of the photos on this page were taken by local filmmaker Phil Pugh- he took some great shots, enjoy!

Noriko

Kikuko talks about growing up in Hiroshima after the war

Bomb Victim

Ian gets an actor ready for a shot

Ian & Dominic on set

Ian & Dominic and Joel plus assistant on set.

Monica

Wardrobe wiz Monica turned out to be very handy with a pair of scissors

Supporting Cast

Two of the supporting cast- they were still smiling at the end of  two very long days.

Bad Hair

Bad Hair day? Another supporting cast member takes it all in her stride.

Make up

One of the Make-up team at work. They did an excellent job for us.

On set

Filming with a supporting cast member

Nikki

Hair stylist Nikki sets to work on a cast member’s hair

Ian and Joel on set

Ian and Joel on set

Rain coat

Joel and Dominic persevering in the rain

woman-and-baby

The youngest cast member at just 6 months old

Joel and Ian

Joel on camera, while Ian gets ready to shout “action!” on the first of the drama scenes to be filmed…

Three ladies

Three supporting cast members wait patiently for us to set up a shot

Ian and Nigel

Ian and Nigel discuss a shot

Nigel, Dominic and Ian

Nigel, Dominic and Ian share a joke with cast

crew-shot

Some of the cast and crew

Photo credits Phil Pugh (c) Major Oak Entertainment Ltd

The shoot attracted the interest of the local press, so it was a great opportunity to generate some free publicity and good timing as we are about to launch a new crowd funding campaign.

You can read the local story here http://www.stourbridgenews.co.uk

Now it’s back to the storyboard… as we prepare for the greenscreen and studio based shoot in London, which will take place during the first two weeks of September!

The Seamless Art

The painterly look of All That Remains.

As All That Remains will contain lots of archive material spanning from Pre-World War Two Japan to Post atomic bombing of Nagasaki, a lot of effort is going in to cleaning up and restoring these archive shots, and this work has had an impact on the intended visual style of the movie.
Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins are keen to explore ways of seamlessly blending the archive material that we have with any dramatic reconstruction scenes. Ian Explains, “this way, when we cut to the archive shots, during the dramatic reconstructions, the audience isn’t taken out of the drama, and consequently that vital emotional connection isn’t broken”.

“We have lots of amazing archive footage and we want to use as much as possible, but we like the idea that you can’t always tell what is real footage and what are shots that we’ve re-created on computers,” adds Dominic. “Of course, there will still be times when it’s obviously archive material as some of the footage is so badly damaged, but that’s OK, as it’s also part documentary there will still be moments taken from a retrospective point of view anyway– we just don’t want the drama sequences to be punctuated with the sense of distance from an event, that you get when watching old footage.”

“We always like to push the boat out both visually and from a story telling point of view and  I don’t think there’s been a film shot quite like this before, with different elements  blended together and given this pseudo painterly look – the idea of mixing in real people from the time and real recordings of actual events with the reconstructed sequences using actors and CGI this way feels more natural and the scenes will have much more potency,” concludes Ian.

Below are some more stills showcasing the “painterly look” and how it helps blend the different elements together.

Painterly look

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

You may have noticed there is another link on the menu called Production Hub, which is password protected, well, you may remember when we were running our Indiegogo fund raising campaigns, certain perks promised privileged “peeks behind the scenes” on some of the sequences in progress and other areas of production development/design – well this is where we’ll be posting them.

In fact, we’ve just uploaded a video sequence testing out the painterly/graphic style discussed in this blog – as it is also part of a key sequence in the movie (the atomic bombing) we’re keen to keep it under wraps at this stage, hence it not being posted in the public section of this blog, but for those who purchased the relevant perks, if you haven’t already, you can see it now!

Those who purchased the relevant perks on our indiegogo campaign should have received their passwords to unlock the page.  If you haven’t, then email us here.

You can also check out the personal blog of Ian and Dominic Higgins for more on the techniques and ideas behind the movie.

Digital Make Over

Digital make-up FX

Further blurring the line between what is real and what is digital...

As we mentioned in our previous blog, we’re now working out how to best maximise the budget and resources  that we have, in order to be able to convey the original vision of the movie without sacrificing on quality.

An example of one area where we’ve had to think outside the box is the special make-up effects required for some of the key scenes in the movie, namely the post atomic bomb sequences.

While traditional make-up and prosthetics will be used in these scenes, the extent to which they will be utilised will obviously been restricted by the limited budget we have to work with, but determined to do the sequences justice, directors Ian and Dominic Higgins have decided that several of the special make-up effects will also be created digitally – that is, added to the actors in post-production.

Using sophisticated “tracking” software, the “digital prosthetics”, which will be created using a combination of digital painting techniques and 3D modelling, will be mapped to the faces of the actors after they have been filmed.

Digital make-up

An actress with "digital make-up" applied. The face is kept shadowy, but we see enough to grasp the horrors and devastation inflicted by "Fat Man".

Although we don’t, in any way, intend to be gratuitous with what we show, we are adamant about conveying the events we are depicting as authentically as possible, in order for audiences to greater appreciate what Dr. Nagai and all the other survivors of the atomic bombings went through. Only by doing so, can we really appreciate their pleas for “no more Hiroshima, no more Nagasaki”.

For more on this story and other glimpses of the artistic and technical development of the movie, visit the blog of Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins.

Warning: Due to the nature of the subject matter, some posts on this site  will contain graphic depictions of wounds and other images of war and destruction that some people may find disturbing.

Now the Indiegogo campaign is over, the next stage of production begins…

As the dust settles on our latest fund raising campaign,  the next major step of the production process gets underway – namely the translation of all the Japanese interviews and research material, and within the next few days, the (potentially lengthy) casting process of finding our key actors will begin.

As always, script re-writes and work on effect shots continues simultaneous to the other production work.

Since our Indiegogo campaign ended, we’ve also received several emails from people asking if they can still make a donation to help towards the costs of production. Well, yes you can! Right under the video posted below, you’ll find a “donate” link, simply click on that and PayPal will take care of the rest. It’s safe, secure and easy. Feel free to donate however much or little you want, it’ll all make a difference. Donate $15 dollars or more and you’ll get to see your name in the end credits of the movie, $500 or more and you get a producers credit!

Below is an exclusive video in which Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins and Producer Joel Fletcher discuss their vision for All That Remains and why they believe it’s a great project to be a part of.

You can still make a difference, you can still help us to tell the story of a life worth remembering.

Because words are all we have, right now…

Yesterday an extremely generous person donated $2,000 to our campaign on Indiegogo! We’ve said it before, but as it’s true, we’ll say it again, every dollar/pound we receive goes a very long way, so a donation like this is a huge leap forward for us.

And so, we thought now would be a good time to pause and say a big thank you to everyone who has so far donated, supported and championed our various campaigns to raise the necessary budget we badly need.

Special mention should go to blogger Frank Weathers for all his support (and donations) since the launch of our first campaign on Indiegogo. Frank’s efforts and enthusiasm have been a crucial part of the successes we’ve had. You can check out Frank’s blog here –

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yimcatholic/

We couldn’t not also give mention to Fr. Paul Glynn, who has been so helpful and supportive of our efforts, and continues to offer help and assistance, despite not long returning to Australia, having spent several weeks in Japan, raising money for a far more noble and worthy cause than ours, helping the victims of the Fukishima earthquake.

http://maristfathers.org.au/Pages/2011-11-news.html

We’d also like to give a special mention to Mr and Mrs Yoshida from Nara, Japan. After hearing of our desire to find authentic, traditional Japanese clothing, the Yoshida’s have sent us several parcels containing various items of clothing! Not to mention the fact that while we were in Nara, Mrs Yoshida kindly offered to come shopping with us – an offer we gratefully accepted!

Obviously, we still have a way to go until we reach our goal, but for all that we have received so far, and all that we may receive in the weeks ahead, thank you.

Help a ground-breaking  movie get made – 

see your name in the credits!

Help us tell his story

And help us tell his story to the new generation.

http://www.indiegogo.com/All-That-Remains-Phase-3

The grand design of All That Remains

As we work hard on raising the much needed budget for the drama sequences, there’s an awful lot of other work to be done. The main focus right now is on the script, which is currently being re-worked. As anticipated before our trip to Japan, the interviews and personal experiences we encountered has greatly influenced the drama aspects, but this is just one of many jobs that needs to be done…

The other big job that has to be tackled before we can shoot is the production design and pre-visualisation of certain scenes – that is storyboarding, “pre-visual” artwork and test shots of the special effects. All films require an enormous amount of planning, but a film that deals with epic scenes of war and destruction demands so much more.

Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins always like to envisage a scene before they shoot it and often, at the back of their sets, you’ll find a wall covered in storyboard art.

Storyboards on wall

Storyboards on wall

“Storyboards are vital for working out potential problems before you even pick up a camera”, explains Ian. “But, most importantly, they allow us to convey our vision for a particular scene to all the crew and cast, so everyone knows what to do”.

“The other reason they are so important is they act as check list of shots, when you have to have a certain amount of shots in the bag before the end of day, it’s so easy to miss one or two because things can become a mad blur of activity”, adds Dominic.

Storyboard art

Designing a sequence - A storyboard illustrating the directors vision for a scene

Of course a film such as this is going to require big effect shots, and not just the obvious ones of mass destruction and warfare. “We’re going to recreate a Nagasaki that no longer exists, so there has to be no modern looking buildings in sight”, explains Dominic. “We’re bringing the past back to life so our audience can experience the life of Dr. Nagai and feel that all important connection”.

Nagasaki before the bombing.

Nagasaki before the bombing - FX shot.

Nagasaki after the bombing – FX shot

Nagasaki after the bombing – FX shot.

To create the necessary special effects, “All That Remains” will draw on both cutting edge technology such as computer generated imagery and 3D animation and more old fashioned (and time honoured) techniques such as model miniatures and prosthetic make-up.

Computer generated Urakami Cathedral

Computer generated model of Urakami Cathedral.

Computer generated model of Urakami Cathedral

Another view of the computer generated Urakami Cathedral.

“We’re big fans of mixing mediums, besides it makes it a lot harder to tell how a certain effect was created when you draw on a variety of techniques. Special Effects are the magic tricks of film, if it’s too obvious how an effect is achieved, the illusion is blown and the spell is broken”, enthuses Ian. “The more real the re-constructed sequences feel, the easier an audience will become involved,” points out Dominic.

Pre-visual artwork

Dr. Nagai vs the Fat Man - Pre-visual artwork illustrating a dream scene in "All That Remains".

Amongst the ever expanding pile of production art-work, test FX shots and concept sketches, one thing is clear; we have the makings of a very special and unique tribute to an equally unique and special life of a modern day saint, who endured the unthinkable and left behind a legacy of hope.

Please show your support by heading over to Indiegogo and making a pledge. Every dollar/pound goes a very long way!

Indiegogo link - help make it happen!

Pledge your support today!

Don’t forget, we’re also offering the chance for a few people to own a piece of the movie (and a percentage of any profits the film will make.) Email us here for more info on this special and limited offer.

A message from the heart and the Maria Hibakusha

From day one, we intended this film to be shaped by the people that we would interview, that it would be, as much as possible, Nagasaki itself telling us the story of its heritage and the life story of surely its greatest adopted son. We wanted it to be as personal and real as we could possibly make it.

This is why, the scripting of the drama aspects was kept open for change right up until we returned from Japan and had watched through the hours of interviews that we had captured, and why we’re still in the process of shaping the final draft of the script.

“It’s a fascinating and exciting way to work, “ explained Director Dominic Higgins, “because, even when you’re sitting in the edit room, you don’t quite know where things are going to go.”

“It’s a very organic way of working and the story is telling itself, we’re just fusing the elements together, and then adding modern technology to bring it back to life – and that’s the way it should be for this kind of story”, added Director Ian Higgins.

We were very privileged to have been granted an interview with the Archbishop of Nagasaki, the Most Reverend Joseph Mitsuaki Takami. As the head of the Catholic community in Nagasaki, his voice is crucial to the telling of this story.

 Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami interviewed for "All That Remains".

The Archbishop also introduced us to the “Maria Hibakusha” – the burned head of a statue of Mary from the Cathedral at Urakami. Hibakusha is a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion effected person” and its scars eerily mirror those of the human victims with its once piercing blue eyes burned out of their sockets. The statue head was one of the most haunting sites that we saw while filming in Japan.

Maria Hibakusha

"Maria Hibakusha" - a silent witness.

In the exclusive video “extra” below, Archbishop Takami explains what the message of Nagasaki is for the world and talks about the Maria Hibakusha.

“All That Remains” Promo store now open!

All That Remains Merchandise shop

Another great way to show your support! - Just some of the great promo products we have in store...

Need a new mouse mat? Or how about a new set of mugs? Are you looking to buy someone a gift?

Well, if you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be interested in knowing that we’ve opened our very own shop and stocked it full with all kinds of products that would make ideal gifts. These are products with one purpose in mind, to promote “All That Remains”.

Once again, every single penny of profit will go into the production of the movie, so could we tempt you with a T-shirt or how about a baseball cap?  After all, there’s nothing like wearing something with pride!

Come in and take a look around today!

http://www.cafepress.co.uk/allthatremains

The Japan experience – Part 1

After an epic 22 hour journey from England to Japan, we took a brief walk around Nagasaki to get a feel for the place, and then had an early night, ready for the busy schedule that awaited us over the next 10 days.

Our first interviews were with Tokusaburo Nagai, the grandson of Dr. Nagai and Fr. Jose Aguilar, an expert on early Christianity in Japan as well as the life of Dr. Nagai. After a look around the small museum dedicated to Dr. Nagai, we set up next door in Nyokodo, the little hut where Dr. Nagai spent the last few years of his life.

Nyokodo today– This is the tiny hut where Dr. Nagai and his two children lived after the atomic bombing.

Takashi in Nyokodo

Takashi Nagai at work in Nyokodo. His body is weak, but his mind and spirit are strong. Perhaps his most remarkable achievement is the sheer volume of books, articles and drawings he produced while confined to a bed.

After so many months researching, it was very strange to be actually sitting in his house, but in order for us to be able to faithfully recreate his story on film; the connection we felt walking in his footsteps was vital.

Our next interview was with Sister Kataoka, a historian with a personal connection to Dr. Nagai – her father was one of his doctors. She came to the interview with mountains of research material to show us. It was a fascinating hour or so.

Next on our schedule was an interview with Archbishop Takami. After the interview, the Archbishop gave us a guided tour of the rebuilt Cathedral. In the shadow of the great cathedral stand several atom bombed scarred statues, silent witnesses to an event that today, we can’t really imagine.

Director Dominic Higgins and producer Joel Fletcher talk with Archbishop Takami on their way to visiting the rebuilt cathedral in Urakami.

The rebuilt Urakami cathedral towers majestically above the trees.

We had an earlier than usual start the next day because we had an 8 hour journey from Nagasaki to Nara ahead of us, where we were to meet Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki”.

We discovered just before leaving for Japan that Nara was celebrating its 1300th anniversary – as the number 13 played such an important part in our previous film, Finding Fatima, we took this as a good omen.

It turned out that our brief stay in Nara would be amongst the most treasured highlights of our entire trip to Japan.

We’ve had many wonderful experiences working on our previous films, but nothing compares to the welcome we received in Nara. On our first night we had a welcome dinner of Traditional Japanese food with Fr. Glynn and the men of “The Glynn club” washed down with Japanese beer and Sake. Unfortunately we had to cut the night a little short as we had to conduct one of our main interviews – with Fr. Glynn!

Fr. Paul Glynn.

Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki”.

The next morning we were up bright and early to film the Sunday mass, where many of the parishioners had agreed to dress in traditional Kimonos, and in the case of the women, wearing white veils also.

I don’t think any of us has ever heard hymns sung in such perfect harmony as we did in that mass in Nara. There is something very special and pure about the faith of the Japanese Christians we’ve come across in our research, a deep sincerity, which is both humbling and inspiring at the same time, and this is what we witnessed during that mass.

Fr. Paul Glynn gives communion. Note the beautiful headdresses worn by the women.

During the service, Mrs Okada, a local soprano sung “The Bells of Nagasaki” – the theme song to the original 1950 movie based on the life of Dr. Nagai. The performance was stunning and this was among the most emotional moments of our trip.

Soprano Yumiko Okada gives a powerful rendition of “The Bells of Nagasaki”.

We definitely wasn’t expecting what came at the end of the service. First Mrs. Yoshida, who, along with her husband Andy and Fr. Glynn, had helped arrange everything for our trip to Nara, performed a special welcome dance for us, and then we were asked to stand in front of the altar where we were presented with so many wonderful gifts, including an old Noh play mask (Noh is an ancient Japanese form of theatre).

One of the many gifts we received from the people of Nara was this beautiful Noh mask.

Speaking on behalf of Major Oak Entertainment, director Ian Higgins addressed the parishioners, “We came to Japan to tell the story of one man, Dr. Nagai, but now, we realise this is the story of everyone in this church, of every Japanese Christian who ever lived. It is a story of a faith that survived against the odds, a faith that stands as an example to the rest of the world.”

Below Mrs Yoshida performs the traditional dance.

At the end of service we made a special recording of Mrs Okada singing “The Bells of Nagasaki”, for use in our film. We had a farewell lunch with Fr. Glynn and several of the parishioners before a quick shopping spree for traditional Kimonos, to be used as costumes in the movie. Mrs Yoshida kindly offered to come with us (we would have been lost without her!)

We were very sad to leave Nara so soon – but we had a very demanding and tight schedule, so we set off on another 8 hour journey back to Nagasaki.

Director Ian Higgins stands before a monument honoring the memory of the “Hidden Christians” of Nagasaki.

Major Oak meets the Mighty Oak: In Nagasaki's Glover garden, we found a special Oak tree that had been planted to commemorate Nagasaki City’s participation in the UK-Japan Green Alliance 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Anglo/Japanese Alliance. Director Dominic Higgins reads the inscription which states that the tree symbolizes strength, loyalty and longevity.