Flowers will bloom.

Takashi's and Midori's final resting place

Takashi’s and Midori’s final resting place – 1st May 1951

63 years ago today, on May 1st 1951, Takashi Nagai – the “Saint of Urakami” passed away.

It was a short but full life. In his 43 years he had managed to fit in a lifetime of accomplishments and created an enduring legacy through his teachings and writings.

The good doctor, although more or less bedridden in his final years, worked tirelessly to make Urakami district (ground zero) a place where “beautiful flowers will bloom”.

He left behind copious essays, memoirs, drawings and calligraphy on various themes including God, war, death, medicine, and orphanhood. These enjoyed a large readership during the American Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) as spiritual chronicles of the atomic bomb experience.

His work towards the spiritual restoration of his country led to him being honoured as a National Hero of Japan, and in 1991, “The Takashi Nagai Peace Award”, was founded to annually promote writings and essays on “love” and “peace” from all over Japan.

As befitting a man born into a Samurai family (Samurai means “to serve”) he has recently been honoured by the Catholic Church with the title “Servant of God”, the first step to sainthood. But to many people in Nagasaki and around the world, Takashi Nagai is already considered a saint.

Walking around Nagasaki today you will still find a living legacy  to the spirit of Dr. Nagai. Surrounding Urakami Cathedral are the cherry trees he planted shortly before his death. They defied science which declared that no life could grow there for 75 years.

Nagasaki is indeed a city that has risen from the ashes. It is a city where the past has left its indelible shadow forever imprinted upon its surface and on the collective consciousness of its inhabitants, but it is also a place that embraces the future, a city that continues to grow and bloom.

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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 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’.

Recreating “that day” 67 years on…

Nagasaki 1945

Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

Today is the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. So it’s fitting that in just two days’ time, our cameras will roll on filming the harrowing events of that morning in 1945.

Logistically these sequences will be the most complicated as they will involve working with lots of extras and a team of special make-up effect artists in an area the size of a small football field, covered in rubble and timber, and of course, all at the mercy of the English weather.

Using archive photos and storyboards created by the directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, authenticity is the number one concern.

Aftermath boards

Pre-visual artwork for the  A-bomb aftermath sequence

Aftermath board

Previsual reference art for the aftermath sequence

Aftermath board

Previsual reference art for the aftermath sequence

The newest member of the production team, Nigel Davey has been responsible for finding the extras and the location – and he’s done an amazing job!

“When Nigel called us to tell us that he’d found a location that might be ideal, we had no idea just how ideal it would be!” explains Dominic.

“By the time you see these shots in the film, you’ll never believe it was filmed right in the heart of England,” adds Ian.

A big thank you to both the land owner and his very accommodating site manager Alistair for their incredible generosity in allowing our crew such open access and the freedom to do what we need to, in order to best re-create “that day”.

On location

Dominic, Joel, Ian and Nigel on location – August 9, 2012

The Japanese community in Birmingham have also been amazing in their response to our call for extras, far exceeding our expectations.

We’ll be posting some stills here on this blog, so keep watching this space!

Meanwhile, with the latest draft of the script now completed and the cast selected, we’ve decided to upload a few clips from a selection of the auditions we’ve held over the last few weeks to the “Production Hub” section.  For those of you who have access to this area, you can check those out right now!

“We’ve had such a high calibre of performance during these auditions, we’re really looking forward to working with this cast!” says Ian.

“It’s taken a long time, but we now have a cast who will give us exactly what we were looking for, characters you will believe in, characters you will care about.” concludes Dominic.

Filming for the main drama scenes will take place in the first two weeks of September.

The Birmingham connection

The Frisch-Peierls Memorandum

Memorandum on the properties of a radioactive “super-bomb”

While researching the screenplay for All That Remains, director’s Ian and Dominic Higgins discovered a strange connection with their home city of Birmingham in the UK, and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

In 1937, German born professor Rudolf Peierls took up a position as Head of Applied Mathematics at Birmingham University.  Two years later he was joined by Otto Robert Frisch, and the two of them began work on atomic research.

In early 1940, while taking a walk through the blacked out city streets, the pair realised how the theoretical possibility of an atomic bomb could be a practical reality.

In March, they typed up the Frisch-Peierls Memorandum in the Nuffield building of the university. The three page report was the first to set out how one could construct an atomic bomb or, as they called it, “a super bomb”, from a small amount of fissionable uranium-235 and calculated that it would be enough to create a temperature equivalent to that of the interior of the sun.

The memorandum opens with:

Strictly Confidential

Memorandum on the properties of a radioactive “super-bomb”

The attached detailed report concerns the possibility of constructing a “super-bomb” which utilizes the energy stored in atomic nuclei as a source of energy. The energy liberated in the explosion of such a super-bomb is about the same as that produced by the explosion of 1000 tons of dynamite. This energy is liberated in a small volume, in which it will, for an instant, produce a temperature comparable to that in the interior of the sun. The blast from such an explosion would destroy life in a wide area. The size of this area is difficult to estimate, but it will probably cover the centre of a big city.

In addition, some part of the energy set free by the bomb goes to produce radioactive substances, and these will emit very powerful and dangerous radiations. The effect of these radiations is greatest immediately after the explosion, but it decays only gradually and even for days after the explosion any person entering the affected area will be killed.

Some of this radioactivity will be carried along with the wind and will spread the contamination; several miles downwind this may kill people.

The findings presented in the paper, became an important trigger in the establishment of the Manhattan Project in the United States, and the subsequent development of the atomic bombs dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“When working on a project, we always look for any connections we may have with the story, as it helps make it feel more personal”, said Dominic.

“This one was a real surprise though,” adds Ian. “To think, in a way, the story of the atomic bombing really began in Birmingham”.

The directors have decided the film will now contain a short scene depicting this connection.

Peierls at work

Peierls at work

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.

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.

The Japan experience – Part 2

Stain glass Urakami Cathedral

The day after returning to Nagasaki from our trip to Nara, we had an interview arranged with Fr. Renzo, who runs a beautifully designed museum dedicated to the 26 Martyrs of Japan. After a brief but informative tour of the museum, it was on to the interview.

Outside the museum there is a huge relief depicting each of the 26 martyrs.

Again, we were working to a very tight deadline and before we got too comfortable, it was time to make our way to our next destination, the Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, where we had three other interviews scheduled.

We were privileged to be able to interview Mr. Yoshitoshi Fukahori, who is also head of the Committee for Atomic Bombing Research and Archive materials and a survivor of the atomic bombing. His interview included a detailed slide show of photos that helped bring his story and experience vividly to life.

Director Ian Higgins and co. producer Joel Fletcher set up the camera angle, while Director Dominic Higgins (off camera) discusses the interview to be filmed with Mr. Fukahori.

After his interview, we showed Mr. Fukahori some of our pre-visual artwork to make sure it was as authentic as possible. Mr. Fukahori seemed impressed with the artwork and told us it was just how it was.

Mr. Fukahori relives his experience as a survivor of the atomic bombing.

A reporter from the Japanese newspaper, “The Yomiuri Shimbun”, was also there at Mr. Fukahori’s interview to talk to us about the film – we appeared in the newspaper the next morning! So we also managed to get some good publicity within Japan.

Our second interview was with Professor Jun. Professor Jun and his students have created a computer generated model of pre-bombed Nagasaki, guided by Mr. Fukahori’s memories. From a research point of view, this “virtual” reconstruction will allow us a fascinating and highly detailed look at the Nagasaki of Dr. Nagai’s youth.

Next we had an interview with Mr. Takashi Morita, the director of the Peace Memorial Hall.

As well as being granted special permission to film and photograph in the memorial hall by Mr Morita, we were given a private view of a special light show on the roof of the Peace Hall, where 70,000 fibre optic lights shine from the bottom of a large tree lined basin of water. Needless to say, once again we felt incredibly honoured and very privileged.

Each light represents the soul of a victim of that day. After we got our footage, we downed our cameras and took a moment to let the experience sink in. It was profoundly beautiful and another memory to treasure.

The beautiful light display on the roof of the Atomic bomb memorial hall.

70,000 lights for 70,000 souls.

Our overriding experience of our time in the Peace Memorial Hall was one of deep contemplation. On one hand, there is a quiet, but very deep and sincere respect for all the victims of the atomic bombings, and on the other, a passionate plea for the world to learn from the horrors endured by the people of Nagasaki on that summer day. There is no trace of bitterness or anger whatsoever, and this is undoubtedly why a visit to a place such as the Memorial Hall has such a profound effect.

The next morning we had an interview with Dr. Masao Tomonaga, whose father was also a personal physician to Dr. Nagai in his final years. Dr. Tomonaga had memories of meeting Dr. Nagai has a child and showed us a first edition of Dr. Nagai’s landmark book, “The Bells Of Nagasaki” which had a written message from Dr. Nagai to his father!

Dr. Tomonaga knew Dr. Nagai personally and gave us some valuable insights into the man and his life.

Dr. Tomonaga’s first edition of “Bells of Nagasaki”, signed by the author.

Dr. Tomonaga told us that he believed our film was potentially one of the most important developments in recent years for the story of all those who suffered through the atomic bombing, alongside Dr. Nagai.

Our final interview was with Mr. Yoshiro Yamawaki, of the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, who was 11 when the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki. Once again, what we heard was a harrowing and intimate account of living through the atomic holocaust. It was a privilege for us to be able to speak to both survivors of the atomic bombing, and our interviews with them enabled us to capture the true human face of the disaster.

The interview was followed by a tour of the atomic bomb museum where we got to see more examples of the destructive power unleashed on that day in 1945. One of the most poignant items on display was a wall clock that had stopped at 11.02am, the exact time the bomb exploded.

Forever frozen at 11.02 am, August the 9th, 1945.

We spent our last few hours in Nagasaki filming in the Peace Park. Standing at the point of the epicentre of the bomb was very unnerving, as was standing before the remains of the original Urakami Cathedral.  We took a moment to let it all sink in, and then, with only a couple of hours to catch our plane we decided to risk a mad dash to Yamazato Elementary School where Dr. Nagai had erected a memorial for all the children who perished there.

It was very long journey home but it was good to be able to sit down for more than five minutes!

The Peace Memorial Park.

The Peace Statue

The 10-meter-tall Peace Statue by sculptor Seibou Kitamura dominates the park. The right hand points to the sky and symbolises the threat of nuclear weapons while the left hand is extended to the side in a symbol of eternal peace.

All that remains of the original cathedral in Urakami.

A reconstructed Dutch settlement in Nagasaki – some wonderful traditional buildings = plenty of useful material for FX shots.

Every so often we had the feeling of really stepping back in time.

During our trip to Japan, we became increasingly aware of just how important our film was to the people we had met, with so many of them thanking us for attempting to make their story and the story of Dr. Nagai better known to the world.

We were incredibly passionate about telling this story before we went to Japan and we were obligated to make the film because of the donations we had received, but now we also have a very personal obligation to fulfil. The film has found its soul.

The “Hibaku Maria” or “Bombed Maria” a statue of Mary from the Cathedral at Urakami that survived the bombing. Preserved today in a small chapel inside the Cathedral, its scared face is a haunting reminder of the human face of the tragedy.

Help make a movie worth watching!

It was thanks to all the kind donations we received via our crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com that we were able to fly out to Japan and film the wonderful interviews and amazing footage we now have. But… we still need to raise a little more money as we turn our efforts to producing the drama aspects of the movie.

The drama will concentrate on the human story behind the facts. We believe that drama is the most powerful way to bring this side of the story to life with the impact that it needs, so we’ve launched one final campaign on Indiegogo  with every penny raised going into the production of the movie.

So once more we are asking  for your support and help in bringing this incredible and important story to screens all over the world and into the hearts of people everywhere, where it belongs.

Below Fr. Paul Glynn explains why he believes the story of Dr. Nagai still remains so relevant today.

To help us make it happen point your browser to our page onIndiegogo.

We’ve also just launched the official All That Remains website  be sure to check it out!