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Saturday, September 18, 2010

KINGYO cinematographer Josha shot the new SPEED music video, Yubiwa

Now, finally, something not about the screenings of my film.

A few years ago I mentioned my teenage love for the Japanese pop group SPEED.


They started in 1996, then disbanded in 2000. I was crushed. In 2008, they came back again, I was skeptical. Yet the intensity of my love for SPEED, especially lead vocalist Hiroko Shimabukuro (the tall one), was so intense that I composed silly haiku for her.

Oh, hiro, hiro,
I think of you with sorrow,
ouch my head explodes.

I'm a poet, yes.

As a teenager I dreamed to become a film director and perhaps one day I can make a film with them. For them.

A film?
A music video?
Does it even matter?

The teenager that was me was constantly swimming through a river of daydreams, swimming against the tide.

Far-fetched silly little dreams that were often scoffed at by classmates in school. Oh, what a blow then, to my narcissistic pride, to be constantly mocked and laughed at, for having a dream. (note: though my parents insist that I'm just being extremely neurotic and paranoid and that in truth no one had really wronged me as much as I have believed. It was a nice way to quench my sorrow. It's like telling a fat boy that he's just big-boned. Sigh, I always knew that I was fat.)

But nonetheless, looking at what I'm doing now, the child who grew into a teenager continuing to dream of becoming a film director is not really that silly... isn't it?

Last week, Josha, one of the two cinematographers of my short film KINGYO (I needed two because the film was mostly in split screens and many scenes were done with two cameras shooting simultaneously, just so you know) told me that he had recently shot the latest music video for Speed's latest single, YUBIWA 「指環」.

My heart skipped a beat, and I went into a melodramatic spiel, like something you see in a 30s or 40s Hollywood production.

"Oh, you did? You really did? How utterly wonderful? What was it like? Tell me, oh tell me, Josha-san!"

I felt as if I was a giggly pimply-faced fat teenager again, often ignored by women in high school, often broken-hearted.

I felt like the giggly pimply-faced fat teenager who once attempted to write a fantasy novel and went around hoping a friend would read it but was, also, mostly ignored.

Oh, all these flashbacks, all these horrid flashbacks!

Josha showed me the music video.

I stared.

"But... why... so... minimalistic?" I asked.

"Budget constraints."

"If I were directing this music video, I would have tried... something like, you know (some Japanese pop singer) and (some other Japanese pop singer)'s music video!"

"Those were big budget stuff."

"Eh, (some new semi-obscure J-singer) and (some semi-obscure J-band) made stylish music videos with low budget."

"Initially, the director wrote a script. But you should know who actually calls the shots."

"Oh." I replied wittily.

Josha left. I remained in my editing room. Looking at the computer screen. On Youtube. Play. I clicked. Pause. I clicked. Play. I clicked.

"If I were to direct a music video..." I tapped the keyboard absently.

Then I smiled as I dreamed another wistful dream.

(Kingyo trailer, to show a sample of Josha's cinematography work in other films :D)

Video page

(UPDATED: 20th of September, 2010):
I was more than a little amused when i found out that this blog post was linked to by a forum member at the SPEED IS BACK forum. Said forum member was understandably upset by my seemingly negative reaction towards the music video, and perhaps cast doubts upon my 'claims' of 'knowing' the cameraman of the music video and 'once being a fan'.

I signed up a user name (I called myself Kobe81, after NBA star Kobe Bryant, and a reference to a historic night of his... because no one would expected me to call myself Kobe since I always rooted against him, haha) and left the folks at the forum a message.

I remember what it was like long ago when I used to own a SPEED mailing list, fans can be really passionate. Anything negative spoken about the objects of their affections can elicit a really strong response.

Even I myself, the owner of the mailing list, got blasted a number of times of not liking some of their songs. Fans, they can be quite endearing, I guess.

Now, just to clarify matters. I am definitely not criticizing the director of the music video. Just as Josha pointed out then "you know who actually calls the shots", i was referring very clearly that the director himself does not have full creative control over the music video. It wasn't him who 'called the shots'. He initially wrote a script, but it ended up not being used.

Creative input was also provided by the girls, since they were the 'stars' of the video, and of course, their record label, since they financed the entire video. When everyone is able to have their say with what they want in the music video, the director has to make adjustments, compromises. So the end product is not entirely the directors' responsibility, especially in a pop music video.

I didn't make any claims that I will do a much better job with directing this, after all, the entertainment industry is rather complicated, and many times the director is not entirely at the top of the food chain. Yet I was wistful, and I wondered what I myself would do if I directed a SPEED music video.

Nonetheless, I am happy for the SPEED girls that they still have such passionate fans speaking out for them. Hey, if I have such passionate fans defending my films as well, I'll be a happy man too!