When and how the idea of a digital magazine focused on Japanese indie filmmakers came into being is, to be honest, a little unclear. Like the movie on which this post is titled, the thought most likely occured a few layers deep so as to seem almost organic; a matter of course.
I believe the first inkling first happened during my time, first as a volunteer, then as international film programmer for the San Diego Asian Film Festival back at the turn of the milennium. Though I was studying Japanese at the time, searching for Japanese movies online was a frustrating exercise in attempting to translate Japanese websites without the aid of modern web resources. If I was lucky, the movie had screened at an international film festival and someone had already done the leg work of writing a synopsis, introduction, etc. in English. As I often searched for movies off the beaten path, however, I was not so fortunate. If only the information I was looking for were available in English….
At the next layer down, I have moved to Tokyo and have begun working as a freelance translator for various production units, government sponsored organizations, film festivals, and individual filmmakers. I was finally involved in providing English information to people outside of Japan. Of course, this was still under the context of specific festival and organizations with only a few internationally minded filmmakers willing to make a financial commitment to appeal to an audience they honestly weren’t convinced existed–at least not without going through the traditional route of the film festival scene. Most websites, if not all, were still in Japanese only. Unless you knew how to look and where to look, potentially very good Japanese movies were going unnoticed. I was doing my part, certainly, but the deficiencies of doing this alone were becoming more apparent….
Down a further layer, it’s been nearly a decade since I first stepped into the Japanese film industry. I’ve come to know quite a number people through the work I’d done, similarly like-minded individuals or groups who want nothing more than to expose the world to the wealth of Japanese cinema. We all know the problems and proposed ideas to improve them at gatherings involving food and beverage were initially met with great enthusiasm. But no one would make that difficult first step. I also built personal relationships with filmmakers themselves, leading to an awareness of not only wanting to spread the word about their movies, but also to tout them as well. All the ideas I’d been hearing up to then was to promote the movies, but what about the people who make them? The internet has blossomed into a latticework of social media applications allowing creators and consumers to interact in ways not possible before. Selling the movies alone was no longer adequate; in fact, it is rather archaic. Building a following for the creator along with the movie is now just as important, if not more so. Create a fanbase. This was the simplest form of the idea….
Now, after spending a couple more years in “limbo” attempting to give form to the idea, I am finally rising up through the layers to step out into the world with what I hope to be a fully realized creation. Am I still dreaming? Unlike the end of Christopher Nolan’s movie, I am about to find out. I hope you’ll be there to find out with me.