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

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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!

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?

imgres

More auditions and more greenscreen…

Last Monday was a busy day – what with holding auditions for the role of Kayano (Dr. Nagai’s daughter and the young Takashi) and the filming of key scenes from the opening sequences!

It was a great day though, well worth every minute and we’ll be announcing our casting decisions very soon. In the meantime, a big thank you to all the parents who brought their children to the auditions.

Also another thank you to our wonderful costume assistant/adviser Kikuko Wall whose help was invaluable, and to Bill Evans, who went the extra mile for us, quite literally!

Actress Theresa Nguyen and hair stylist Jenny Gillings

Actress Theresa Nguyen and hair stylist Jenny Gillings

Japanese actress Kyoko Morita plays Tsune Nagai.

Japanese actress Kyoko Morita plays Tsune Nagai, the mother of Takashi.

Actress Kyoko Morita kindly postponed a trip to Japan for a week so she would be available for our shoot. Not only did she look great in the part – she gave a wonderful performance as Tsune Nagai, the mother of Takashi.

Check out Kyoko’s website here.

Actress Ava Lyn Koh with Kyoko Morita preparing for a scene

Actress Ava Lyn Koh with Kyoko Morita preparing for a scene

The next big shoot will be the “Cathedral scene” on 10th November, which will be filmed at a location in Birmingham. “We’ve found the perfect place for the scene,” explains Ian, “a beautiful church that really has the grand look of a cathedral inside and looks simply stunning on camera”. “We just need to fill it out with as many people as we can”, adds Dominic.

So, once again, we’re looking for members of the Japanese community to appear as extras.  All ages are welcome, both male and female. If you’re interested in doing something a little different on Saturday 10th November, why not come along – it’ll be a fun day for sure! For further details please contact Nigel at daveyfilms@aol.com.

Here’s a video showing some before and after shots from the greenscreen scenes we’ve filmed so far.

Below are a few more stills too showing how the footage we’ve shot so far is shaping up…

Still 1

Still 1

Still 2

Still 2

Still 3

Still 3

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.

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.