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.

Coming soon… a special extended preview.

284839_389531964470724_1010984318_n

Wasting no time at all, directors Ian and Dominic Higgins have been busy at work in the editing room since the New Year began, cutting a “special extended preview” of All That Remains.

“We’re very excited with how this film is shaping up and we really wanted to let everyone who has supported us and everyone who has contributed to the making of this film up until now, see for themselves, the results of all the hard work so far”, says Dominic.

“Although we have a lot of work ahead and plenty more scenes to shoot, the trailer will give a really good impression of the scale of this project and the vision behind the scale,” adds Ian.

The trailer will premiere in 9 days’ time on our official Facebook page, but if you have access to our Production Hub, you can watch it right now!

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’.

Greenscreen shoot – Week 1

The first phase of the filming is now complete, and many key scenes from the first half of the script are now in the bag.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s a good time to look back and see just how far we’ve come with this project.

It’s been two years of hard, hard slog- research, research and more research, endless script rewrites, an outpour of storyboards and production artwork, countless hours spent fund raising…   Long days and sleepless nights, but we’ve been driven by a passion to make this happen.

Script

Most of the filming is now taking place in a location in Birmingham. We were lucky to find a perfect location for our shoot. Everything we need is literally on one site, studio space for our greensceen set-up, catering facilities,  a coffee and tea area for cast and crew to relax and even a hotel to put up the cast members who were sleeping over. And with the beautiful Lickey Hills on our doorstep, what more could we ask for?

For most of the cast this is their first real experience of working with greenscreen, which brings new challenges for them and an exciting vibe to the set.

Greenscreen

Getting ready for a take

We’d like to give special thanks here to, Tomasina Scott, Kikuko Wall and Sheila and Bill Evans.

Sheila and Bill have been amazing to us during our shoot, when they haven’t been preparing wonderful food for the cast and crew, they’ve been coming to rescue in the props department!

On the last day of this part of the shoot, our cast and crew had the choice of enjoying authentic Japanese cuisine, courtesy of a local Japanese lady, Tomasina Scott. Interestingly we learnt that Tomasina grew up in Hiroshima and that her mother was there the day the first bomb was dropped. A big thank you to Tomasina for spending the day with us and for preparing all that delicious food!

Once again we have to thank, Kikuko, a very special lady, who came all the way from Telford to bring us a suitcase full of beautiful Kimono’s for us to use on set.

From left to right – Kikuko, Sheila, Yuna, Meg and Tomasina

The second phase of filming, which will concentrate mainly on scenes after the bombing, will take place in late October/early November.

In the meantime though, there’s plenty of work to do with the footage we’ve now got, as most of it has been shot in a greenscreen studio, meaning the sets and locations have to be added, and then there is the “grading” process – the part where we give the film its unique look. We’ve added a few stills of shots we’ve worked on below, to illustrate the work that goes into creating the final images you’ll see on screen.

close-takashi

Below are some stills from our first week’s shoot, enjoy! All behind the scenes photos by Phil Pugh.

Nicholas

Nicholas Lu-Fong plays Makoto Nagai

Nicholas gets into the part with a new haircut.

Nicholas gets into the part with a new haircut

Leo (Takashi), Nicholas (Makoto), and Yuna (Midori).

Leo (Takashi), Nicholas (Makoto), and Yuna (Midori)

Wardrobe

Wardrobe department

Actress Yuriri Naka undergoes  a two hour make-up session

Actress Yuriri Naka undergoes a two hour make-up session to play an atom bomb scared victim

Meg and Leo

Actress Meg Kubota and lead actor Leo Ashizawa enjoy a coffee and a chat

Dinner

Dinner, East meets West. A local Japanese lady brought a Japanese banquet to the set. Special thanks also to Sheila and Bill Evans for the splendid food they made for us on the day

Ian and Leo

Ian and Leo discuss Character

CAMERAMAN_SMALL

Nicholas is proving to be a natural in front and behind the camera

Painting light

Dominic painting with Light

Cast and crew

Directors Ian & Dominic show cast and crew some of the shots they’ve been working on

Two crew members stand in for our cast as we set up a shot.

Two crew members stand in for our cast as we set up a shot

Cast and crew

Cast and crew

Meet the cast

Meet Takashi and Midori

With the first few days of filming now complete, we thought it was time to introduce you to some of the main cast.

Leo Ashizawa is Dr. Takashi Nagai

Leo Ashizawa is Dr. Takashi Nagai

Leo Ashizawa is Dr. Takashi Nagai. Leo is an actor with great screen presence and charisma. Two qualities that help make him so well suited to the role of Takashi.

Check out Leo’s personal website here.

Yuna is Midori Nagai

Yuna Shin is Midori Nagai

Yuna Shin is Midori Nagai. From her first audition, Yuna seemed to be the perfect choice for the role of Takahi’s faithful wife, Midori. Yuna brings a great emotional depth to the role.

Check out Yuna’s website here.

Meg Kubota is Tsumo Moriyama

Meg Kubota is Tsumo Moriyama

Meg Kubota is Tsumo Moriyama. Meg is a very experienced actress who brings a great a presence to her role as Midori’s watchful mother. She is an actress who is capable of producing beautiful subtle performances.

Dai Tabuchi is Sadakichi Moriyama

Dai Tabuchi is Sadakichi Moriyama

Dai Tabuchi is Sadakichi Moriyama. From the moment we first saw Dai perform at the audition, we knew he would be perfect for the role of Midori’s father, a man who exudes warmth, compassion and sensitivity.

Juni Chi is prof. Suetsugu

Junichi Kajioka is prof. Suetsugu

Junichi Kajioka is Professor Suetsugu. Junichi is an actor with lots of experience under his belt, having starred in the recent Chinese blockbusters City of Life and Death and Flowers of War, with Christian Bale (check out directors Ian and Dominic Higgins’ review of City of Life and Death here). With his tireless enthusiasm, he was not only great fun to have on set; he also created a very memorable professor Suetsugu on camera.

We were also very lucky to be able to have the chance to work with up coming actor Tanroh Ishida who, having not long finished work on a new Keanu Reeves movie and a Cameron Diaz/Collin Firth vehicle, is just about to head off to Hollywood yet again, to test for another major new feature film.

There are many more great actors involved in this production, of course, and we’ll be introducing those in a future blog – so be sure to stay tuned!

With a filming schedule that will run into November, there’s a lot of work ahead, but directors Ian & Dominic Higgins are very excited with how things are shaping up. “We’ve captured some great performances so far and we’re looking forward to sitting down and watching back over it all, while we prepare the next shoot”, explains Dominic.

“We now know for sure we have the right cast for the parts, and look forward to the rest of the filming”, adds Ian.

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!

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.

London calling – The casting gets underway.

Casting

Our first auditions were held in London last Monday and already we are excited about what some of these potential actors will be able to bring to this film.

For directors Ian and Dominic Higgins this is one of the hardest parts of the filmmaking phase- getting the right cast. “We are visual filmmakers so when we cast, we are thinking, how will that face fit into the design of our film? “, explains Ian. “We are also casting for iconic roles here, so these faces need to be memorable, but performance is also paramount”.

”Absolutely, even though the visual style of the film will have a very animated look, with its strong painterly wash, we didn’t want to use CG actors because of course, an actor is much more than a physical prop”, adds Dominic. “A great actor has the ability to make you laugh or cry, because they allow you to see, in their performance, something that is honest. CG actors are actors without a soul, and this film is about a man who discovers he has one!”

The auditions will continue over the next few weeks, and will also include online submissions – where actors will be invited to submit videos of themselves reading specific lines via sites such as Youtube.

“We’re really looking forward to the call back stage, where we put shortlisted actors together to see what kind of “chemistry” they have together, which is absolutely vital if we are to convincingly portray what is, at its heart, an epic love story,” explains Dominic.

“It’s all about the chemistry on screen”, says Ian. “It’s the magic ingredient that connects an audience to our characters in an emotional way and makes us truly care about them”.

Stay tuned here for updates on the casting! We’ll also be uploading some of the successful auditions to the Production Hub section soon.

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.