Tag Archives: filmmaking

Memories from Japan enclosed in a new music video for CWNN

11 May

“Would you like to take part in a music video?”- I asked a random couple, Rie and Katchi, on my first day in Tokyo. They had been kind enough to walk me from a bus stop to a pub I was looking for, after I’d asked them for directions. Despite a language barrier, we managed, with a smattering of goodwill (alongside a translating application on my phone!) to arrange details of the shoot. We agreed to rendezvous a few days later at 7pm… at the same bus stop we had first met. At the time, it was the only place I knew I could find again!

I’d been planning to make a music video for CWNN for ages. The concept was very simple. It seemed obvious to me that a band mischievously commenting about being “not so big in Japan” should have their song sung by Japanese people. With no budget, I was entirely reliant on the kindness of strangers. However, despite my extensive search, I couldn’t find any London-based Japanese people willing to perform in front of a camera. So, when I had an opportunity to holiday in Japan, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to upgrade my camera equipment and finally make the video!

By the time I met Rie and Katchi again, I’d acquired a second-hand Canon 70D, a zoom lens and two more performers. The next two and a half weeks was full of adventure, visits to fascinating places and random encounters, which were all captured on the camera. I shot people everywhere I could, from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka to Hiroshima, in Mijajima and finally at the smallest and cutest of them all-the fishermen’s village Tomonura, near Fukuyama. The video became a moving photo album; my own souvenir from Japan. I was humbled and remain forever grateful for the generosity of everyone I met. The video is very personal to me but it also, I hope, captures the dreamy sense of this truly beautiful song.

Katchi and Rie on the night when I met them.

Katchi and Rie on the night when I met them.

My lovely cast from the first day of shooting the music video

My lovely cast from the first day of shooting the music video

Koyasan buddhist temple where we spent a night and filmed the monk

Koyasan buddhist temple where we spent a night and filmed the monk

Entrance to the temple and our accommodation in Koyosan

Entrance to the temple and our accommodation in Koyosan

Jizo Statues in Kyoto: Jizo are believed to look after dead children in the afterlife

Jizo Statues in Kyoto: Jizo are believed to look after dead children in the afterlife

Dancing gejko (young gejsha) at the Comb Festival in Kyoto

Dancing gejko (young gejsha) at the Comb Festival in Kyoto

Japanese say

Japanese say “A woman’s hair is her life.” Kushi Matsuri is a festival presenting the best hair styles wore by young girls dressed as Geishas. After the presentation old combs are being buried during an official ceremony

Yui and Manami at the Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

Yui and Manami at the Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

This man helped me so much. He not only showed me around Miyajima but also drove me from the Island back to Hiroshima hostel and from there to my next accommodation at Hazumi sisters'.  Sadly, I lost his email address.. :(

This man helped me so much. He not only showed me around Miyajima but also drove me from the Island back to Hiroshima hostel and from there to my next accommodation at Hazumi sisters’. Sadly, I lost his email address.. 😦

Nazumi and Murakami, who I stayed with on my second night in Hiroshima

Nazumi and Murakami, who I stayed with on my second night in Hiroshima

Beautiful and whimsical Tomonura at 6am

Beautiful and whimsical Tomonura at 6am

My generous Tokyo friends threw a birthday party on the last night of stay in Japan. How sweet is that?

My generous Tokyo friends threw a birthday party on the last night of stay in Japan. How sweet is that?

Ayako and Nachi waving good bye on my way to the airport.

Ayako and Nachi waving good bye on my way to the airport.

Arigato Japan! I hope I’ll be back one day!

A dinner after the first night of shooting CWNN music video. Arigato Japan, I hope I'll be back one day!

A dinner after the first night of shooting CWNN music video. Arigato Japan, I hope I’ll be back one day!

About the band:

East London post-punk electronic balladeers, Cult With No Name, (Erik Stein and Jon Boux) signed to L.A. label, Trakwerx records (founded by Jackson Del Rey of Californian punk legends Savage Republic) in 2007, becoming the label’s first international signing. Legendary UK music critic Mick Mercer made them his discovery of 2007. In between releasing five critically acclaimed albums, Brett Anderson (Suede) invited CWNN to open for him, they collaborated extensively with Kelli Ali (Sneaker Pimps), and BBC 6 and Radio 1 Wales amongst others regularly spun CWNN tracks.

Not So ‘Big in Japan’ is a track from their 6th release, entitled ‘Another Landing‘.

Please check their website: http://cultwithnoname.net and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial

First After Effects animation made with Shroom Studios

29 Apr

I’ve always wanted a branded intro to my films. But wanting an animation and doing an animation are two different things. However, with a little bit of luck and networking I finally found a way to achieve that. Cue Music. Enter Christos and Alex Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio in London Fields, Hackney, London.

Now a question: Have you ever considered how long does it take to make a 1 second of animation?

I clearly had no idea. But in the case of the clip below (in loop) it took about 4.5 hours!!! 4.5 hours for one tiny second of a character jumping ! And that was ONLY because I had very detailed instructions and guidance from Alex Hatjoullis, who is a professional animator. I would have probably spent weeks, if not months, trying to work out how to do it myself.

Mally-27th-April--Anima-Jumping-loop-HS

All we started with, was this drawing of a character (below) Alex made after I told him about my idea for an animated sequence. How cute is she, right? A week and a one long After Effects lesson later, she is now bouncing from a trampoline and in the next few weeks she is due to do some other acrobatics too :).

Mallywini by Shroom Studio

Alex paid attention to the final detail. Just notice how her skirt lifts up and goes down and how her body stretches just that tiny bit at the top of the jump. No wonder. After all, I was working with true professionals.

Alex and his brother Christos, who I am lucky to have as my mentor at ZeroOne Creative Hub, have nearly 15 years of experience in branding and animation. They formed Shroom Studios in 2001 and since then worked on an overwhelming amount of projects, from independent art films to documentaries, commercials and political or social campaigns. They had worked commissioned by BBC and Channel 4 and their unique style of presenting content and animation style have been recreated by other animation companies.

Click on the logo to go to their website. There you will find examples of their work together with a blog, where Christos shares some of his and his brother’s favourite animations from all over the world. Shroom Studio

I got to respect and like both brothers very much.  They are both humble and generous in sharing their knowledge and helping others. They are also extremely involved within their community and value their small-business clients just as much, if not tiny bit more, as the bigger companies. They are also incredibly creative and together have an overwhelming amount of hobbies. Christos, I believe, is topping up the scale with his photography of dead insects, music composition, contemporary dance practice and even trampolining, which came very useful in designing our character’s movements. Moreover, they are both appreciative of their family and incredibly proud of their dad’s art work, who despite his advanced age still makes extremely detailed artwork on linoleum. Take a look on the photo where Alex is holding his collection of moths. Prints of their Dad’s artwork can be seen in the background. And check out Christos’ photograph of dead insects. He collects them, keeps them for years and photographs the decomposition process. Death and decay turned into beauty. A true artist.

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

I thoroughly enjoyed learning After Effects with Alex. So much so in fact, that I was still buzzing the whole of next day.

What’s more, in the breaks, Alex kept feeding my already overexcited head with inspirations for my other animation sequences. The one I had in mind for the PolinArts, the documentary about Polish Artists in London… Yes, yes, this project is still in progress. I’m clearly not a rabbit when it comes to finishing my projects. I am a turtle; but I will get to the end of the race… Eventually.