Interview by Barcelona International Film Festival – Spain
Director Biography – Kyoji Kamui
Kyoji Kamui is a Japanese actor, film director and producer. He has appeared in many movies in Japan since the 1990s. Kyoji suddenly retired in his heyday and surprised his fans, but in 2018, he suddenly started making movies. Kamui writes, directs, shoots, edits, produces, almost everything by himself. It has a unique view of the world and has a different sense from many Japanese film directors.
Interview with the Director Kyoji Kamui.
Hi, Kyoji! Thank you for granting this interview and sincere congratulations on your ‘Outstanding Performance’ and Achievements at Barcelona International Film Festival!
You wrote, produced and directed the film ‘SMOKY&BITTER’. How was the film inspired?
First of all, I decided to make my own “answer to what a movie is”. It’s my idea and I don’t know if it’s the correct answer. The answer I seek is not in Japanese movies. Naturally, I was inspired by many European and American films that I had watched since childhood. I want to make a movie that I want to watch.
2. Can you begin by explaining how you first got involved in the film industry?
In 1990, I started working as an actor when I was 25 years old. I have appeared in many movies and TV dramas. At the actual filming site, I saw more than 100 directors and cinematographers and the work methods of production staff in various fields and naturally learned how to make a movie.
3. What are the directors that inspire you the most?
I strongly sympathize with “Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu” about the theme drawn in the movie. “Christopher Nolan” taught me that the script composition makes the movie interesting. “Guy Ritchie” in the same meaning. I also learned how to move the time series back and forth from “Quentin Tarantino”. Prior to that, it was “Jean-Luc Godard” and “Roman Polanski”. I don’t hate the craziness of “Lars von Trier” either. When I remember the director’s name, there is no end.
4. Where did you get the inspiration from for creating your story? What attracts you to this style of the film?
I grew up watching European and American movies from an early age. We are Japanese, but we wanted to make a movie like a Western movie. The idea for this story was inspired by an old cowboy movie. What attracts me is the nostalgia within me.
5. We know you also produced ‘SMOKY&BITTER’. What did you enjoy the most about working on the film? What did you find more challenging?
I think this is what every director feels. We can see that what was initially only in our heads is becoming more and more shaped. It’s a lot of fun. Collaborating with trusted colleagues is fun.
The challenge was to shoot with myself and the actors alone, without having a dedicated staff on site. The purpose was to speed up the progress of the site as much as possible. I didn’t have the time to explain to the staff, and I had to do everything at my discretion to complete the movie within my budget. I think it’s a crazy attempt, but I was convinced that I could still make an interesting movie.
6. Do you think the era of online streaming for movies has had a positive or negative impact on the film making industry?
I think it’s definitely negative. “SMOKY&BITTER” has been released at several movie theatres in Japan. Sometimes it was shown on a Blu-ray disc, and sometimes it was shown on a DCP. When I saw my movie on DCP, I thought for the first time, “I saw a real SMOKY&BITTER” I think you should watch a movie while sharing the same space with someone while enjoying the realism on a big screen.
But I agree with the film festival awards ceremony being held online. Because everyone doesn’t have to go through long flights.
7. How did you choose your cast? Was this your first time working with them?
My casting criteria are acting ability, presence, and humanity. I decide on the performers before writing the script. Talk to the actors you worked with within the past and those who confirmed your acting ability by watching the stage, go to the cafe together and talk, check your way of thinking and attitude toward work, and then decide. .. Then, write a script that can demonstrate the good points of each.
The reason for doing so is that while the filming site has time to improve the quality of acting, it does not have time to teach the basics of acting. Collaborating with people who believe in each other is very exciting and efficient.
8. I know it may seem like a very broad and difficult question, but can you roughly outline your creative process – from the beginning of an idea for a film, to the point of production?
My production process begins with the recall of fragmentary scenes. From the idea of “I want to shoot such a scene”, I will create some scenes and then connect them. The mission of the film is not to explain the story. It shows the way of life and the way of thinking of the people who appear there. The director tells the theme he wants to appeal to. Instead of thinking about the story, create an image of the scene and the conversation there. Then, decide on the theme of the movie and assign the roles of the characters.
To summarize, I will focus on the theme of the movie and how to bring out the charm of the actors. If the theme is well communicated and the actors are attractive, it will be a great movie.
9. What is the message that ‘SMOKY&BITTER’ conveys?
“SMOKY&BITTER” is not a story of success. The protagonist has made many mistakes and regrets in his life and lives with many wounds. And again, it fails. It’s a realistic story.
The message from the movie is “Restarting Life”.
Life doesn’t end there just because you failed. It just changes the starting point for the next move.
“Don’t give up in any situation. You can start your life over in any situation.” That is the message I want to convey from the movie.
10. What’s next for you? What are you working on at the moment?
Since 2018, I’ve been shooting movies at a pace of once a year. I will shoot a new work this year as well. I’m still writing the script, but I’m aiming to shoot it in the summer and release it to the theatre next year. I will do my best to return to the Barcelona International Film Festival with a new film next year.
SMOKY&BITTER – Overview
The killer Moroboshi who lost his memory wanders into a rural town, and the villain dispatch organization “Ando , who is the face of the town, manages the beautiful woman Satomi who calls out there. Taken to the office of “bad guy Production”. Ando finds out from his belongings that he is a production hitman and introduces Moroboshi to his friends
Connecting to Kyoji Kamui:
◆ IMDb KyojiKamui
◆ “SMOKY & BITTER” introduction page (English version)