Yuichi Nagata JSC. ©Globetrot Productions 2006In "Eternally Yours," when a crook attempts to take advantage of a forgetful elderly woman, surprises are in store.
I spoke with Director/Writer Atsushi Ogata on Monday evening over a set of nine-dollar beers. Being from Tokyo he hardly flinched.
-Interview by Jon Robbins
Is your background in acting and directing?
My original background is in video art, and then I started getting European grants to write scripts for movies which never got made, and then I started acting in friends’ films, and then I came to HB Studio here in NY, and then I started work on a comical Dutch quiz show, playing a scorekeeper and saying funny things, and then I went back to short films. From there, I started making performance videos in which I was acting as well as directing.
I made my first film, “
And then I made this film, commissioned by the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, a Japanese arts festival, based around my experience of being confused for someone else. For instance, in a gift card shop here in
This experience gave me the idea for “Eternally Yours,” where there is confusion over identity.
My impression was that in
Yes. I think the old values are breaking down. I mean there are so many crimes targeting the elderly now, partly due to economic factors, and partly to the dissolving social order, the nuclear family’s reign. People are losing their jobs in
There are two big scams. One is that they call you and say ‘are you so and so’s relative, well he’s in trouble you need to deposit money into this account or else you will have an embarrassing situation.’ And
The other type of con artists try to convince you that you need house repairs and they gather their friends and do endless repair work and bill you a huge amount. If yolu’re an elderly person living alone, you can get taken very easily.
Atsushi Ogata - Photographed by Manako Yamaguchi
I really appreciated that your film, which was very funny, was also innovatively shot, with warm, patient takes. Rare for a comedy, don’t you think?
I’m originally a visual artist so it’s really important to me that films look beautiful, but, as you say, most comedies are not shot that way. Woody Allen’s are well-shot, but that’s a great exception. Most comedies are shot flat and boring, and I didn’t want that, so when I was looking for DPs, I found Yuichi Nagata, who's done both comedies and independent films, and more than one hundred of them, including “Water Boys,” a well known Japanese film. I really liked the way he composed shots, and even though he’s in his 50s, he likes to experiment with new media, so he actually used the newest Panasonic HD camera with a P2 card. So we just recorded onto a card and the editor simply worked from a laptop on the set as we were shooting.
The other thing is that in
And to answer your question, the actors were so good that it seemed a shame to do much cutting. There was simply no need for it. Because I’m an actor myself, I sat down with the actors and really fleshed out the roles with them. But I did not have to micromanage at all with these actors. The only thing I had to do was remind them of details. But not the essence. That we produced together.
Eternally Yours (
Thu Mar 29: at the Walter Reade Theater