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November 2011



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Bunraku Exclusive report: a co-producer's view




The article below comes from a first-hand report which was set up exclusively for this blog at the expense of time by a hard-working academic at the OhioStateUniversity.  If you want to use the information here, please link directly to  [info]bunraku_blog if you can or at least cite the blog clearly, as it is intended as a resource for people interested in any aspect of the production and deserves credit as such. The image on the left shows Alex McDowell.

Bunraku is reported as having a production team of nine people, one of the three co-producers being Alex McDowell, better known as a designer of major Hollywood successes such as Minority Report, The Terminal and Fight Club.


Alex McDowell was invited to give the 2009 Glimcher Lecture at the WexnerCenter for the Arts (a partner of the OhioStateUniversity) on 7th April and a kind [info]gackt_army proxy had the opportunity to ask a question of Alex about Bunraku and how its title and concept might tread between the different cultures of East and West.



To what degree did you feel that the production should stick to real aspects of traditional Japanese theatre, such as bunraku, and were you influenced by what you thought Western audiences would recognize as authentic?


Alex McDowell’s reply indicated that the “feel” of Bunraku would be a Samurai cowboy movie aiming for the style of 300.  The look would be deliberately stylized, with characters appearing sometimes as though their fabric was on a very small scale and with the sets sometimes seeming to be made of folded paper.


Alex explained that, in Bunraku, he was using the idea that the movement in the camera-work should dictate the set, rather than the set-design in any way limiting the action. So, if a character performed a kick which needed a physical context, such as a wall, that wall would be provided in the design.  In this way, the actors should have a total freedom of space in which to work and to give of their best.


Alex’s special value to Bunraku as a salesman has been front-loaded:  the pre-visual content (image and media to show how the production would look and could work) that he made to show during the Cannes film festival helped the director to double the amount of anticipated investment in the production. 


Alex is also an articulate and enthusiastic advocate for the intelligence which his craft can bring to the industry.  He is convincing in his arguments that work done beforehand in determining the necessary narrative content of a set (why physical things are there in both historical and functional terms) is a key component of the integrity of the finished work and a key component of a movie’s success in entertaining, intriguing and captivating its audience.



The anticipation is mounting!

...At least for me. xD; Thanks for the update.
The anticipation is mighty indeed but the info on release is too small to be seen sadly!

I was lucky enough to have a friend just in the right place at the right time. I guess lots of the good things we enjoy on LJ are the products of pure opportunism! I'm sure you'll remember that when it's your turn ;=)
Thanks so much for the great reporting wongkk! Please put your name as reporter as a headline, and how you want credit, if you are allowing reposting or only links to BB.
Oh no qualms about your reporting, Colonel, it's just that your work was taken before, and we want to stop that from happening again.
maybe we can tag this "bb_exclusive"
Lucky Number Josh website has just reposted your entire article and did not credit you, wongkk. I have sent a message to the moderator of that site asking them to include your name, and that we would prefer links to original material, not re-posting.

Thanks very much. It's good to spread the word but I'd like people to refer to this site. And if the Josh website is moderated, they ought to be trying to observe some good practice so thanks for taking the trouble to pick them up on it.
Wow. That's a very nicely in-depth answer. Thanks to the Gackt_Army member who asked the question! I think it's interesting the way he describes the set and its production. It sounds very "actor-to-camera-centered".
Yes, Alex is enthusiastic as well as articulate so, when he verified my agent's feedback as accurate, he added some more! He's a bright guy AND he cut his teeth on rock MVs so I view his take on the entertainment industry as interesting. He also has academic cred and is involved in university-level taeching and research - as is the kind friend who asked the question for me.

I armed the said friend with 5 or 6 Bunraku-angled questions and left it to his discretion to choose the one which best fitted the topics covered in Alex's lecture. Said friend is a senior academic so I knew he wouldn't be shy about hearing his own voice in a lecture theatre!

Y, Alex's desire is, I think, to shrink-wrap the set round the requirements of the acting and camera-work. Personally I see a connexion between this and his MV background - but that might be a mirage of my own making.
Awesome! It's great to hear any news from the producers regarding Bunraku. Thanks so much and thanks to the one who asked the question. :)
As is often the case, I think they're happy to speak IF they're asked; the difficulty is getting close enough to put the questions. Happily this opportunity worked out very nicely. It was just a bit ironic that it happened when I wasn't around but in Japan for the RnRII live - a rather Gacktian joke!
Interesting! Thanks to our anonymous benefactor for this!
Glad you enjoyed reading a bit about the production side of the film/movie. I know that most people prefer to learn more about the actors! I don't know (yet) whether Alex McDowell had any contact with Gackt or even knew that one of the principal actors was indeed a rock musician (Alex more or less started out making punk rock MVs).

The anonymous benefactor was indeed generous as this event took place in the run up with Easter which is a very busy time. I live in fear of payback day ha ha
Wow, thanks to you and your friend. It's really interesting to hear something.. more concrete about the production of the film. And it's always pleasant to see that producer is so enthusiastic about his work.


Thanks for a update~

Eh, suspense....building...