New book on Dr. Nagai helps spread the word…

The Saint of Nagasaki

The Saint of Nagasaki by Walter Enloe

Walter Enloe is a teacher at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota USA, he is also a prolific author on the atomic bombings of Japan (as well as being involved in several exhibitions promoting world peace) and is just about to release a new book on Dr. Nagai entitled The Saint of Nagasaki. Mr Enloe has very kindly offered to carry a flyer for All That Remains in each of the books!

The book contains 60 photos and 25 drawings by Dr. Nagai, kindly supplied by his grandson, Tokusaburo Nagai, which are used to construct a narrative. For anyone interested in the life and work of Dr. Nagai this will be a must read.

As mentioned above, Walter is from Saint Paul, Minnesota, since 1955, this city has been twinned with Nagasaki. After the atomic bombing the citizens of Saint Paul set up a special program to help Nagasaki recover from the damage it had sustained, and today the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC) continues to promote beneficial relationships between the American and Japanese people in the two cities, and to promote the cause of peace.

Next year will mark the 60th Anniversary of this special relationship.

To find out more about Mr. Enloe and his books please do check out his website here – there are so many other stories that deserve to be told to wider audience.

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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.

Presenting the bigger picture…

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These past few months directors Ian and Dominic Higgins have been buried away working on the edit of the film, honing scenes, polishing the visuals and designing the soundscape, but now they have announced they will shortly present the first test screening of a completed edit  (with only directors and producers present) – so stay tuned for more info on this!

In the meantime, it appears our film isn’t the only thing to soon be revealed (albeit at this stage to only select crew).  We came across an interesting and very timely story in the Ashai Shimbun newspaper.

It is common knowledge that Dr. Nagai was a convert to Christianity and that it was his new found faith that he turned to when confronted with the horrors of war. What is not common knowledge though is that Christianity in Japan is a little different to Christianity in the West.

Having been driven underground in the early 17th Century by the Japanese government of that time, these hidden Christians or “Krishitans” as they became known, began to develop their own form of Christianity, incorporating certain aspects of Buddhism and Shinto into their practices.

Now it seems the Vatican is about to start its first extensive study on the Krishitans.

A still from "26 Martyrs" courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

A still from “26 Martyrs” courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

Naturally there are some who question as to whether the Krishitans should be considered as Christians.

Annibale Zambarbieri, a professor of religion at the University of Pavia in Italy, has this to say in answer, “I think that we should call them, ‘Old Christians.’ Christianity has often mixed with local cultures. Even Pope Francis said that they are model believers. There is no reason not to regard them as Christians.”

Our experiences with Fr. Paul Glynn and his parishioners in Nara certainly back these words up.

For more on this, here’s a the full article from Ashai Shimbun….

Trailer 2

The new trailer for ATR!

The Christmas message from Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

On Christmas Eve 1945, a single bell rang out across the atomic wasteland of Nagasaki. For all who heard it, it was an incredible message of hope that resurrection was indeed possible.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly important scene in our film.

From the director’s blog:

The sequence required two actors to unearth a cathedral bell that has been buried beneath a pile of rubble (from the atomic blast) and to then raise it on a make-shift stand, with the scene ending on the bell ringing out once more across the wastelands of Nagasaki on Christmas Eve night.

It’s a very important scene in the film (and a very symbolic one) so we spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas for how we were going to pull this off. After rendering some test footage with a computer generated 3D version of the bell, we decided to opt for a far more traditional technique.

Model miniatures have been used in the field of film special effects since the very beginning; in fact, one of the iconic images from the early film period is a still from George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – which shows the man in the moon with the rocket stuck in his eye. The effect was achieved with the use of miniatures.

Concept art for George Melies' A Trip to the Moon - 1901

Concept art for George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – 1901

Maybe the most magical aspect of miniatures is that, even today, with the stunning photo-realism that can be achieved with CGI, miniatures are still very much part of the special effects tool box, and indeed, in many cases, the best tool for the job.

In our case, the miniature was shot against a greenscreen and was then composited into a CGI rendered backdrop with the two actors (also shot against greenscreen) – so it was very much a case of traditional and modern FX techniques working together to achieve our effect.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

As it appears in the scene

As it appears in the scene

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

Below are more stills from the scene when the bell rings out for the first time since the bombing.

A Christmas message rings out

A Christmas message rings out

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve released the new trailer on our Facebook Page too.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from team ATR!

More behind-the-scenes from our last shoot

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Before locking ourselves away for a couple of weeks to work on editing footage that now amounts to most of the film, just time to post some more behind-the-scenes photos from last week’s shoot.

It was a great day filming. On the cast front, alongside Leo, Kaya Yuzuki returned to play Matron Hisamatsu, and, as we mentioned in our last blog, we had two new cast members; up and coming actress Charissa Shearer (watch out for her!) and we were honored to have the very talented character actresses Susan Jameson, who has been a regular face in British drama for many years, to play the part of Helen Keller.

On the crew front, South and City College Birmingham students proved to be a great asset on set once again with hair and make-up students Tania Ashworth and Samantha Wilson doing a fantastic job for us!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be preparing for our last day of filming which will take place in September – so watch this space for more info!

Most of the wonderful photos below are courtesy of fellow local film-maker Phil Pugh. Phil is also completing filming on his own feature film, much of which was shot on a custom built set- just down the road from our own!

If, like us, you are a fan of true independent and original films, then you might want to check out Phil’s film here!

Birmingham South and City student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa

South and City college Birmingham student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai)

Birmingham South and City student Sam Wilson working on Charissa's period hair style

Fellow South and City college Birmingham student Sam Wilson working on Charissa’s period hair style

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Director Ian Higgins discussing a scene with Charissa Shearer

Ian discussing a scene with Charissa and Leo

Veteran actress Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Charissa and Leo just before a take

Charissa and Leo waiting to film a scene

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Our two assistant camera  men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Our two assistant camera men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Director Dominic Higgins setting up his camera while Josh sets up another angle

Dominic setting up his camera while Josh sets up for another angle. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Leo with Steve Green on clapper duties

Leo with Stephen Green on clapper duties. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

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

Location, location, location…

Flag of hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical Team on location

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

Keeping warm

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

On location

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

Last minute direction before a take

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

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

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

Lighting up "Nyokodo"

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

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

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

Leo in Nyokodo

Leo Ashizawa in Nyokodo.

Leo getting into character

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

Below are some graded stills from the recent shoot…

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Still 1

Still 3

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

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

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

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

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

A 3D model of "Fat Man"

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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scared-face

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