My first movie premiere was the Tokyo premiere of Death Ride, a Japanese-US horror film I helped produce. Aka the first film I ever worked on, aka a movie re-titled as Haunted Highway in the US by Lions Gate.
So, there I was … 2006, standing on stage in a crowded theater in Tokyo with actress Hinano Yoshikawa and Director Junichi Suzuki, a total of one (1) film under my belt, talking to the crowd about filmmaking and the movie via a translator at the official “Q&A” session that followed the premiere.
Truth be told, I felt profoundly unqualified to be standing on a stage in front of anybody to talk about movies. But it was a magical and surreal experience to watch my first movie in a crowded theater in Tokyo, to see my name on screen as a producer. I left Japan inspired by an amazing glimpse of what the world of filmmaking is like AFTER a movie is released. A few years later, I met a German Director, Uta Arning, and helped her produce the Japanese-German film, Snowchild.
As you may know, my first movie as a Director, Red Skies at Night: The Story of Flower, has a strong Japanese component. It’s a dual-market film, in fact – US and Japan. We have a Japanese star (Flower), a Japanese DP (Tomo Iwakura), and a number of Japanese producers, crew members and cast. There are many other countries represented as well, but Japanese is the second largest group after Americans.
To be clear – every crew member and actor in Red Skies was selected on the basis of talent alone. I reached out to Japanese filmmakers and cast as we were assembling the team for Red Skies, not to be trendy, but because Japan has been an important part of me, and my entertainment career and filmmaking experience, since Day 1. And it always will be.
Without Japanese filmmakers believing in me, I would never have worked on any movie, I would have never had the most amazing career and learning journey of my life. I would be a music lawyer, only. Frankly, I am profoundly grateful.
The movie always comes first. But anything I can do along the way to help Japanese filmmakers or actors succeed in the context of that mission – I’m in.
The journey continues …
TOKYO 2006 – DEATH RIDE PREMIERE