I don’t believe all Japanese independent films are of that style. Personally, I don’t like styles that are too explanatory and over-emotional. The fact that I like classic films have affected my style, I believe. When you trace back the history of cinema, it begins with silent films and films by the Lumière brothers where the picture said it all. That is why I now produce and think of ways of how I can use pictures and sounds to convey information that may stimulate and inspire the imagination of the audience. On the other hand, the budget of Japanese films is surprisingly low, so the reality is that we need to come up with ideas under limited circumstances. I do hope that one of these days, I can create a film with a very large budget that is fast-paced, unrealistic, and filled with music.
Kikuchi Takeo made an impressive debut with his movie, Dear Deer. His follow-up is Hello Goodbye which tackles contemporary issues facing Japanese society. Asian Film Vault asked him why he chose the “typical” Japanese indie style of “…relatively slow pace, not so much dialogue, lack of music, focus on realism and attention to detail)” to tell his tale. Movies are fundamentally a visual medium and the classic rule of thumb is: “always show rather than tell.” Kikuchi has made a conscious decision to employ this minimalistic style because it is his preferred method; those types of movies have served as his inspiration. But the problem is when said style becomes symptomatic of Japanese independent film and the cause, as Kikuchi mentions, is filmmakers doing so because of their budget restraints rather than any creative choice. Or in other words, Japanese independent filmmakers have become accustomed, perhaps even resigned, to envisioning movies which will fit into those constraints rather than thinking of stories which strive to expand beyond them. Kikuchi, himself, hopes to create a movie which affords him the opportunity to break from his usual style. I don’t think he is alone.
Check out the rest of the excellent interview by Asian Film Vault here.