Two weeks ago the Tower Theater held their 8th Open Mic Night
film festival for local filmmakers to showcase their work. And at the
end of the night, for only the second time, a film ended up winning
both the Judge’s Selection Award, as well as the Audience Choice Award. I
got a chance to chat with the film’s director Tsuyoshi Ishida about the
film, his experience at Open Mic, his thoughts on filming in general,
and some other topics that came to mind. ---
Gavin: Hey Yoshi. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into filmmaking.
Tsuyoshi: My name is Tsuyoshi Ishida. I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I came Utah when I was in high school. Now, I’m a film student at the U of U.
Did you go through any education for it, and if you did, what was
Tsuyoshi: I was a member of theatrical company for while before I came here. I had many opportunities to be around film production scenes at that time.
Do you think of yourself as more of an independent or do you prefer
to work with a group?
Tsuyoshi: It depends on what kind of film that I want to make. If it requires a lot of work to produce the film, then I would need more people. If I can make it by myself I would make it independently.
Gavin: How did the concept for your film come about?
Tsuyoshi: I found the Soundtrack of the “West Side Story” then idea of the plot just came into my head. Although I hadn’t seen the film back then.
Gavin: How long did it take you to film and then edit it up?
Tsuyoshi: I shot and edited at the same time. However, it took me about one month.
Gavin: Any difficulties come up along the way?
Tsuyoshi: I did not have any script or storyboard but I had to consider syncing it to the music and the pictures. So, I had to decide what I want to shoot on that day. It was mostly a hunch. Also it was hard to tell the actors what image I had in my mind.
Gavin: When you finished the film, was Open Mic the first time you showed it to a group, or did you do a private thing? And what was the general reaction to it at first?
Tsuyoshi: I showed this film for high school film festival, and I got first place. Everyone liked it. Even my English teacher gave me A for class.
Gavin: How did you hear about Open Mic Night?
Tsuyoshi: Through a friend of mine.
Gavin: What was your reaction to seeing it there and hearing the audience reaction?
Tsuyoshi: I was little nervous. And I was hoping that people gonna enjoy it.
Gavin: You won both the Judge’s Selection and the Audience Choice, only the second person to do it since the start. How did it feel knowing you won both?
Tsuyoshi: I appreciated about the fact that people enjoyed it.
Gavin: What’s your opinion of the local film scene, both good and bad?
Tsuyoshi: People are getting interested about the filmmaking. I love to see local people’s work, because it stimulates me. I hope there will be more people making films. Unfortunately, there are not so many places to show the local films just like Open Mic. There are many places for the artists and the musicians but not for the filmmakers. I wish Utah had more place for the local filmmakers to show their work.
Gavin: Anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?
Tsuyoshi: Probably the quality such as video, sound or special effects. Not for story though.
Gavin: Any local directors you feel are at the top of their game?
Tsuyoshi: I haven’t really given much of a thought…I’m sorry.
Gavin: Putting you on the spot, what would you say are the top films that have had an influence on you?
Tsuyoshi: Too many!
Gavin: If you had to pick an influential director, who would you say is the most influential on you?
Tsuyoshi: It’s hard to pick one. I like the directors who are really creative and passionate even for details of the films that they make. Well, like Michel Gondry, Akira Kurosawa, James Cameron and such… they motivate me to make films.
Gavin: Do you know what you’re doing for your next film, and what can we expect from you going into next year?
Tsuyoshi: I’m working on the music video now. I’m still trying to establish my own style of making film. I try to express new style in every each film.
Gavin: Anything you’d like to plug or any final thoughts?
Tsuyoshi: I will be hanging on to make more films so please check out my works.