Thursday, May 07, 2009

My First Movie Part 3: Filming

I found some new information about the movie I was an extra in. I'll share that in a bit. First I want to finish talking about the cool part of my experience on the set of Kanikosen: the filming. So when I left off, the 19 or so of us foreign guys had been given a tour of the set, eaten a light dinner, suited up with the lady from wardrobe, and heard a quick explanation of our role from the assistant director. Now it was just about time to rock.

The bit of the Kanikosen story that we worked at portraying was the part where the Japanese guys have an enlightening moment. I still need to read the book, but I believe the two crew members realize how crap their own conditions are when they meet the more prosperous Russians doing similar work. With this knowledge they return to their crab boat and stick it to the Man. So we have a good time, and they stand in the corner, dirty and muttering about union dues.

I could tell by the music and commotion that something was happening on our faux boat. I managed to get a vantage point and take a couple of pictures. One of the workers (understandably) told me to not take any pictures during actual filming, so all of my material is either from breaks or from rehearsals when the cameras weren't rolling.

Our scene called for two groups of dancers to entertain our group of Russians on a ship. I caught a few glimpses of the dancers' routines before it was my turn to be on camera.

There were two different groups of people practicing their routines. The first was a group of three Russian(?) girls dressed up like cold weather ballerinas. The second was a little Chinese(Japanese in reality) dance troupe. Their clothes were militaristic and so was their dance. They each had a letter on their hats that spelled out “China”. I thought that was a little weird. Oh and they had clown make up on. That was a bit weird too.

Both groups ran through their little dances so many times that I got tired of watching and went back to the blue tent to wait with the others.

When the time finally came for us to get started we all crowded onto the little boat deck and squeezed around two tables. I was a bit towards the end of the line to get on board, so I couldn't find a good place to stand. The staff saw that everything was a bit awkward so they moved three of us over to the side. When the cameramen started shooting I realized that I was stuck way out of the shot! Oh no! Luckily my angle improved in later takes.

So the first little scene was us enjoying food and drinks while watching these two sets of dancers. They didn't give us a lot of direction really. Perhaps they assumed that we knew more about having a foreign party than they did. There was food and drink on the table, and dealing with it seemed to be our biggest confusion. It felt like there were about three different people all giving us conflicting instructions. We were all pretty hungry due to our very light dinner, so once the word was given we ate a ton. Of course by then everything was cold.

Here are a couple of interviews with the guys.

Between takes the precious food was dutifully covered and moved out of harms way.

The real actors were either trying to stay in character, or trying to avoid making eye contact with any smelly foreigners.

Things got downright silly when the magician walked in. I don't know what his deal is, but he is definitely wearing a Louis Vuitton print shirt. By this point I figured it was best not to think of historical accuracy, lest I hurt myself.

Here the guys that can actually speak Russian are being directed. Look who's special.

Story boards are about the coolest thing ever.

The grand finale was the fake Russians, bouncing dancers, and dirty crab boat guys all prancing around in a circle. What a party.

Here the dance scene is being planned out a bit. I didn't do any dancing in the middle, but I give some pretty good square-dance knee slapping.

The younger of the two crab guys is Ryuhei Matsuda. I didn't realize it at the time, but he is a pretty big deal in Japan. Here he is in a sappy long underwear commercial.

So at the end of a Saturday 9 or 10 hour workday, contributing to a motion picture about communism and overcoming oppression, I had a taco salad and a small tote bag to show for my time. į”˜ã„įšŪ肉 is Japanese for sweet irony, in case anyone was wondering. Maybe I'll put the bag up on Ebay. Seriously though, this was an awesome, unique experience and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of it. Now all that's left to do is wait for the movie and see if I can spot my ugly mug.

Ok, well I promised some new stuff. Here's a trailer. Enjoy.

I have a very powerful suspicion that I am visible in this trailer, directly right of the crab guy on the right at 1:37, but I'm not 100% certain. According to a Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan release (here), the film will open nationwide in June.

I didn't get a chance to finish this little tale because I ran out of time before my trip to Hong Kong. If you missed the first two episodes of My First Movie, you can find them here.


  1. are you really in that trailer!? I guess that could be you!! My boyfriend is going to be Famoso!! XD

  2. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Could I get your autograph?

  3. I thought it was supposed to be Russian actors that pretend to be American.

    The backwardness never ceases to amaze me.

  4. sweet beans, I'm jealous

  5. Amazing! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us over at Livejournal.
    Funnily enough, your Youtube link to the Uniqlo CM with Ryuhei Matsuda is my video!
    Sounds like a rad time; I look forward to seeing the movie.