Sep 24, 2020
Ryuhei Kitamura is a Japanese
director of such movies as Versus, Clive Barker’s Midnight Meat
Train, No One Lives, Downrange, and the Mashit segment of Nightmare
Ryuhei’s director origin story
is pretty inspiring - when making his feature debut, Versus, he
went through a brutal series of hardships but still managed to pull
off an extremely impressive movie, loaded with highly complex
zombie fight sequences and gore gags.
One of the things that stands
out in Ryuhei’s career history is his relentlessness. Throughout
his career, a multitude of things kept not working out, but he
relentlessly pushed on and on until he became the director he is
today. Overall, Ryuhei’s story is a true tale of pioneering
filmmaking, and he claims that one of the main things that got him
through the challenges was his Samurai spirit, which we hear more
about, as well as very entertaining stories about how much boldness
can pay off as well as details about Ryuhei’s collaboration with
Clive Barker. All of this and so much more on this episode of The
Nick Taylor Horror Show.
Here are some key takeaways from
this conversation with Ryuhei:
- Blame yourself.
At his lowest point, when nothing
was working out and Ryuhei could have blamed producers, actors, and
the Hollywood system Ryuhei instead blamed himself. This was
actually an act of self-empowerment, which enabled him to pull
himself up by his bootstraps and make things happen because he knew
nobody was coming to save him. When things go wrong, it’s human
nature to find things to blame it on, but instead, Ryuhei’s story
is a reminder to take full responsibility. Hollywood is a fickle
beast, loaded with liars, sharks, and parasites. When the chips are
down, take the blows, learn the lessons, get back up, and take
ownership of all of it. The system owes you nothing; you have to
fight for every inch you get.
- Be willing to throw it all
away. This is an extremely
hard lesson, but on Versus, after spending tens of thousands of
dollars that he raised from friends and family, Ryuhei looked at
what he had shot and realized it wasn’t good enough. This led him
to scrap 80% of the footage he spent months on grueling sets
shooting. This is heartbreaking but an inevitable part of the
journey. Yes, your material will never be perfect, but regardless
of how hard you work on something or how much money you spent on it
if the quality isn’t there, it’s time to scrap it and start over.
You’ll have to live with each and every frame of your movie for
your entire life, so you really can’t afford to put out anything
that you’re not happy with.
- Make outrageous demands, and
you’ll be surprised how often you get what you want.
After talking to enough directors,
I realized that movies are made up of a bunch of mini-miracles, and
you have to believe they’re possible first. After shooting Versus
on a shoestring budget, Ryuhei boldly approached one of the top
editors in Japan and asked him to edit his movie for free. The guy
laughed at him at first, but Ryuhei’s conviction persuaded him to
do it. This substantially boosted the quality of Versus and put
Ryuhei on the map, and he was eventually able to pay the guy back.
To make a movie is literally to do the impossible with limited time
and on a limited budget; often, the only thing that will get your
movie made properly is your own boldness and determination to make
the impossible possible. This means you have to be bold and make
some preposterously outrageous demands, and when you do, you may be
surprised how often people say yes. Despite the fact that Hollywood
can be rough, don’t forget there are angels as well as demons.
You’d be surprised at how often people in the industry want to help
filmmakers out because they all know how difficult the job is. This
is both a matter of getting out of your comfort zone and also
believing in the power of possibility. So if you identify an
opportunity like this, ask for it, the worst they can do is say
Produced by Simpler