We’ve made the news in Japan!

News of our film has been picked up by the Asahi Shimbun, which is one of the five national newspapers in Japan.

Directors, Ian & Dominic Higgins and Lead actor Leo Ashizawa were interviewed for the article. The English version can be read here.

All That Remains in the  Asahi Shimbun.

All That Remains in the Asahi Shimbun.

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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!

The end is in sight…

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Takashi Nagai and “Fat Man” come face to face

On Saturday (5th Oct) our cameras will roll on what will be the last drama scenes for “All That Remains”.

The day will mainly consist of “pick-up” shots, that is, shots we feel we need to re-shoot or additional shots we feel a certain scene needs.

We’ll keep you posted about the final day of shooting, but in the meantime, below are a few stills showing how the shots from our previous shoots, which took place through June, July and August are shaping up, courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films.

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Charissa Shearer in "All That Remains"

Charissa Shearer in “All That Remains”

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The holy man of Nagasaki

The holy man of Nagasaki

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

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Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

We’ll also be releasing a brand new trailer shortly, please keep an eye on our Facebook page for more news on this, but if you want to be among the first to see it, be sure to “Like” our FB page!

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

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 halfway point! Almost…

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We’ve been very busy since our last blog….

With more filming set to take place this Friday (the 14th December), we’ve also had two other big filming days since the previous update.

The first was a location shoot that took place in St. Augustine’s Church in Birmingham (UK) a stunning church that made a perfect set-piece for the interior of Urakami Cathedral – the cathedral that was destroyed in the bombing, and whose spire was used to guide the B29 that dropped the bomb on that fateful day.

Once again, the supporting cast were incredibly patient and a joy to work with.

The second shoot was studio based and started with filming the infamous night that Professor Rudolf Peierls turned the theory of an atom bomb into a reality. To play the part of Peierls, British actor Roger Harding underwent a complete physical transformation thanks to the stunning work of our very talented make-up artist Vera Fenlon and her assistant Stephanie Bentham.

“Roger was such a great sport,” says director Ian Higgins, “we asked him if he’d be OK wearing contacts and he told us he’d never worn them before but was completely open to whatever we had in mind – which was a big relief as it was a pretty big make-up job that we had in mind!”

“The make-up looks amazing and Roger literally transformed into Rudolf Peierls before our eyes”, adds director Dominic Higgins.

The remaining first half of the day focused on scenes with the occupying American forces in the aftermath of the bombing, working with American actor Sid Phoenix and British actor Richard Grayson. “Both these guys were very strong actors and great fun to work with, but it was very much a case of knowing the moment we first saw them that they would be right for the roles we had in mind”, explains Ian.

“We first saw Sid in a short film and we knew he was the right actor to play the part of a character we had written – a young American officer who witnesses the devastation of the bombing and later argues to have Dr. Nagai’s seminal book, The Bells of Nagasaki published”, says Dominic.

These scenes also included a short scene with Kayano Nagai, Takashi’s daughter. “We’ve found the perfect little girl to play Kayano in 4 year old Anna Kimura,” points out Ian.

“We were a little apprehensive as it was her first scene and she’s had no previous experience in front of cameras, but Anna was such so relaxed in front of the camera, we got some great shots very easily,” says Dominic.

The entire second half of the day was given over to getting more shots for the bombing scene itself – with supporting cast members undergoing intensive make-up by Vera and Stephanie.

“Vera and Stephanie really helped bring the horror of that day to life again”, says Dominic.

We were joined on both shoots by, hair/make-up and film technician students from Birmingham and South College (UK). As always, the new crew were thrown straight into the deep end from day one – with the hair students getting to grips with period hairstyles for 30 extras.

“The students proved to be a credit to the college and we certainly look forward to welcoming more students to the upcoming shoots ahead”, says Ian.

We were also privileged to have Sir Doug Ellis OBE visit the set, he chatted to both students and production crew and shared some fascinating personal stories of his own experiences in the pacific during WW2. He also offered to make an incredibly generous donation towards the film!  A huge thank you to Sir Doug!

The local press were also there, you can read all about it here.

Also once again, we’d like to say thank you to all who have been so generous during the course of this production, with our most recent crowd funding campaign those who donated have contributed to over half of the money we need. We couldn’t mention the crowd funding campaign without mentioning our great friend and honouree producer Frank Weathers for his very considerable part in helping us achieve the success we have. Thanks Frank!

After Friday’s shoot, we’ll have filmed almost all of the first half of the script which deals with the life of Dr. Nagai before the atomic bombing. Although much of the bombing sequence has now also been filmed, most of the drama scenes that take place during and after the bombing  have not.

“It’s very exciting though to have almost reached the half way milestone!” Exclaims Dominic.

“The second half of the script is the really tough part, with so much of it dealing with the aftermath of the bombing and it’s devastation, so it’ll be nice to have a few days off over Christmas first.” says Ian.

Now it’s back to storyboards, shot lists and organizing, as we prepare to get more scenes in the bag this Friday!

Below are some stills from the last two days of shooting. All behind the scenes photos are courtesy of Phil Pugh.

St. Augustine's church

St. Augustine’s church made a great set piece

Filming at St. Augustine's church

Filming at St. Augustine’s church – Ian and Dominic explain what they’re looking for, while Joel gets the camera set up.

St. Augustine's church

The impressive interior of St. Augustine’s church caught the eye of directors Ian & Dominic Higgins as an ideal location to film the Urakami Cathedral scenes.

Producer Joel Fletcher with crew member Dan Woodward

Producer Joel Fletcher with crew member Dan Woodward

The supporting cast getting ready for a take

The supporting cast getting ready for a take

Ian getting his angle

Ian setting up for a shot.

Producer Nigel Davey making sure everyone is happy.

Producer Nigel Davey making sure everyone is happy.

Ian & Dominic at work

Dominic gets the angle while Ian checks the lighting is just right.

Wardrobe dept.

Monica, by now an expert in fastening a Japanese Obi.

 South and City Birmingham college.

We were joined on both shoots by members of South and City Birmingham college.

Hair dept.

Hair department, courtesy of South and City Birmingham college!

Chris getting to grips with one of our cameras.

South and City Birmingham student Chris getting to grips with one of our cameras.

Make-up artist Stephanie Bentham

Make-up artist Stephanie Bentham making sure American actor Sid Phoenix is “camera ready”.

British Actor Richard Grayson

British Actor Richard Grayson on his way to the greenscreen studio.

Actor Roger Harding

British Actor Roger Harding just about to undergo his make-up transformation.

Make-up Artist Vera at work.

Make Up artist Vera at work.

Roger Harding

Roger has one eye on the part – Roger with his first contact lens fitted.

Filming

Ian and Dominic getting the shot framed.

Ian and Roger enjoy a chat and a coffee

Ian and Roger enjoy a chat and a coffee.

Dominic setting up a shot.

Dominic setting up a shot.

Anna Kimura plays Takashi Nagai's daughter

Anna Kimura plays Takashi Nagai’s daughter. But first, she needed a change of hairstyle…

Anna getting her wig fitted.

Anna getting her wig fitted.

Anna's new hair.

Anna’s new hairstyle!

Ian checks Anna

Ian checks Anna before her first scene.

Anna with actor Sid Phoenix on set

Anna with actor Sid Phoenix on set .

Greenscreen set

Anna and Sid about to film a short scene.

Vera at work

Vera prepares Japanese actress Miwa Saeki.

Make-up team

Students from South and City Birmingham help our make-up artists. Singer/actor Charlie Green also joins the line up as we get ready to shoot more scenes from the day of the bombing.

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Vera's make-up work.

Vera’s make-up work really brought the horrors of that day back to life.

One of the supporting cast in make-up

One of the supporting cast in make-up.

Sir Doug Ellis on set

Sir Doug Ellis OBE on set, with South and City college principle  Mike Hopkins.

 

The Bells of Nagasaki

The Resurrection scene

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

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

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

Raising The Bell

It takes faith…

… to raise the bell

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

Raising The Bell

Looking down on Urakami…

Christmas Eve

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

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

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

Camera’s roll…

Production Room

Production Room

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

Production Trailer

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

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

Nigel Davey

Nigel on set “Sorted!”

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

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

On set

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

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

Dirty Job

It’s a dirty Job at times

camera operator

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

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

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

On set

Preparing for a take

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

“No more Hiroshima No More Nagasaki”

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

Noriko

Kikuko talks about growing up in Hiroshima after the war

Bomb Victim

Ian gets an actor ready for a shot

Ian & Dominic on set

Ian & Dominic and Joel plus assistant on set.

Monica

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

Supporting Cast

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

Bad Hair

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

Make up

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

On set

Filming with a supporting cast member

Nikki

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

Ian and Joel on set

Ian and Joel on set

Rain coat

Joel and Dominic persevering in the rain

woman-and-baby

The youngest cast member at just 6 months old

Joel and Ian

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

Three ladies

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

Ian and Nigel

Ian and Nigel discuss a shot

Nigel, Dominic and Ian

Nigel, Dominic and Ian share a joke with cast

crew-shot

Some of the cast and crew

Photo credits Phil Pugh (c) Major Oak Entertainment Ltd

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

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

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

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.