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The Magic of Winning 8 Times


Monday 7, February, 2011
freaconomics.jpg

The world of Sumo wrestling is being troubled by a match-fixing scandal.
I am not interested in Sumo wrestling and could not understand
what all the fuss was about.
When I put aside my indifference and listened carefully to the news
I found that the fixed fight related to
“the magic of winning eight times.”
If you know all about Sumo wrestling please skip the next few paragraphs
and start reading from the bottom.
A Sumo wrestler’s rank is decided in “basho” (場所)tournaments
held in spring, summer, etc.
There are six tournaments a year, and there is a large difference
between the annual income of the senior grade, called Maku-uchi,
and the junior grade, called Maku-shita.
Of course the treatment in Sumo stables is very different,
with the junior grade having a life as an underling.
I could imagine that it is a gigantic disappointment
to junior grade Sumo wrestlers -
“I entered this world to wrestle in an arena,
this is not the life I had dreamed of.”
According to the variety show commentary,
when a Sumo wrestler was demoted to the junior grade
he instantly lost the right to receive prize money.
This is 150 million yen(20,000 US dollars) ,
so that it meant they received zero yen.
This is too much of a difference.
However, I suppose that it is not only the Sumo wrestling world
where power rules. To loose many things when lost,
the ceiling is very high instead.
Anyway, some Sumo wrestlers were more interested
in the money than fair play.
So they received money to fix the fight.
Basically a strong wrestler was asked to lose a fight on purpose,
so that the wrestler who is verging on the title time limit
can keep their position as an elite wrestler.
Sort of, I’ll give you my gratitude if you give me your title.
(I am just guessing that such back room deals exist
in the Sumo wrestling world).
The crucial time limit is the 8th tournament.
Some wrestler’s ranking is decided in 15 matches total.
For example, there is a wrestler who has 7 victories and 7 defeats
by the time of the last tournament.
If he fought with a wrestler who has 8 victories and 6 defeats,
and then loses the last match it would mean that he has 7 victories and 8 defeats.
He can’t get the senior grade title by just one defeat.
Oh damn, it is a pity. Very vexing.
“If I got one more win I could keep being in the elite squad.
Hey friend, we have been fighting for the same length of time
and live under the same roof.
Friends help each other. It’s time for charity,
if you know what I mean.”
I am not sure what they think, but it is foul play.
So some strong wrestlers lose a fight on purpose,
and all is right with the Sumo wrestling world.
It seems to be a bit like that.
Professor Steven David Levitt, has attracted a great deal of attention
with his report of fight fixing in the world of Sumo wrestling.
He is the author of “Freakonomics”.
“Freakonomics” is a word coined to encompass “freak” and “economics”,
and it has sold over 170 million copies in America.
I read this when it went on sale. And a film has been made of this book.
One of the six people who made the omnibus documentary
was director Morgan Spurlock, who is famous for his film SUPER SIZE ME,
which documented how we will all grow fat if we only eat McDonald’s fast food.
He proved this by using his own body as an example.
The Sumo wrestling match-fixing scandal is included in this film also called
“Freakonomics”. The film itself is attracting a lot of attention here in Japan
after two years of world premiere,
especially the person interviewed about the world of Sumo.
The times might catch up with the film.
By the way,
did you know that a Professor of Freakonomics exists in Japan as well?
Tomorrow,
I’ll talk about his recent controversial academic discussion paper
saying You Tube free download increases DVD sales.
have a good monday!

About core culture and film business

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

cont’d from previous blog entry. 

outrage.jpg  
(c) 2010 Outrage Film Partners

Well, now I want to write about the business.

 

The target markets for the Takeshi Kitano’s and

Noboru Iguchi’s films are quite different.

Of course, the scale of the market is also different.
In days gone by, the business target for a film to be

widely successful was to cater to a “broad but shallow” profile.

Nowadays, it is possible to reach fans even with a small scale niche film.

The output of these two directors clearly illustrates this scenario.

 

The important thing is to be the “proper size”.

 

Where… and who do we want to see the film?

How many regular customers are there?

How much is a reasonable “cost” to reach them and make a profit?

If we take all these things into consideration and plan accordingly,

I think it should be a hit.

 

What is a hit?

 

A hit film is when it is seen by a great many people,

but nowadays it can be a hit if it is taken to somebody’s heart deeply.

 

However, it is very important to plan and

think about the profitability of a film of that size.

You might think that “such an idea is obvious”,

 but you would be surprised how many films are in existence,

simply because “I made a film, because I wanted to make it”.

 

The fact is, that the purpose of initial calculations is

to get the film made not to recoup on the investment.

It is the pitfall of film art.

 

However, the producer has to think about the realities,

not the director or creator.

 

In the future, it will be necessary for the creator’s talent and

artistry to be sublimated to the mindset of a producer

on the stage called business.

I am already feeling like this for several years now.

 

To be a director oneself or to be a strategist in partnership with a director,

I think is fine as long as you keep a producer like perspective.

 

If you are young and you want to be a film director,

you have to seek out a partnership like this,

or instil in oneself the mind of a producer.

I think that this is the key to becoming

a successful “evergreen” film director.

 

Oh, well I planned to write about the loincloth to film business today,

and it took an unexpected turn.

 

Samurai Blue, the Japanese National Football Team,

won a glorious victory.

They did not hesitate in their course.

 

The day will come when a young talent will appear

with a meteoric rise in the film industry.

I get excited thinking that day may be soon!

 

Well, too much talk about business. 

大きなお世話だ、バカヤロー!

it is subtitled like,
“Mind your business, asshole!

Okay, I’m outta here, have a nice day!
Outrage Trailer
Most foreign audience think that KItano tried to go the other stage,
but actually, THIS is original Kitano.
Maybe people became knowing him for KIKUJIRO, so you found the dirrent taste as
the directors foundamental world, but it is not.
He just look back his original and I think this is masterpiece.
It is also a good ABC to 893(Yakuza) world!!

About the foreigner’s favourite – the loincloth

Tuesday, 2 February, 2011
cont’d from previous blog entry.

IFFR-logo.jpg 
I really love this “new tiger”. 
I bought T-shirts, bags, etc., etc.,

At the New York Film Festival the year before last,
the festival director Marc Walkow and my assistant donned a sumo loincloth.
My assistant sent this as a picture message to me,
and I could see that they were very happy.
It seems that foreigners like the loincloth look.
I heard that Mr Iguchi also wears a loincloth at stage greetings,
wherever and whenever.
Japanese loincloths have lots of overseas fans.
Why?
Maybe women cannot understand it,
but at the Rotterdam International Film Festival it was tolerated by audiences
at the freaky performances. The audiences are mixed age groups,
both young and old, but they have a good laugh at the performance, obviously.
In 2009, Joe Odagiri’s debut film directing project
LOOKING FOR CHERRY BLOSSOMS was invited to the festival.
350px-Lookingforcherryblossums.jpg 
(c) 2008 STYLEJAM, Inc.
Mr Odagiri, Mr Sabu Kawahara and Mr Hiroshi Yamada,
the three main actors, appeared in the style of “A Clockwork Orange”.
They were all dressed in black and wore bowler hats.
The fans in Rotterdam were very happy to see them.
Although they were all wearing the same style,
Mr Odagiri looked in perfect taste,
but Mr Kawahara and Mr Yamada were a bit…
Joe’s interview in Rotterdam by TWITCH

well anyway, they were the funny trio at the festival.
Ooops, I forgot to tell Mr Junichi Inoue, the scriptwriter,
and main actress Kan Hanae-chan
who were invited to attend with the film PURE ASIA,
about the festival atmosphere.
I am sure that Junichi thinks that he regrets like
“Oh… I wanted to do some sort of performance.”
The Netherlands are the land of liberty.
The lack of common sense is no problem!
I like that!

Don’t Take It Seriously…KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR in Rotterdam

zaboga.jpg
(c) 2011 Karate-Robo Zaborgar Film Partners

Don’t take it seriously. A real tokusatsu (special-effects film)
which focuses on the fun of ridiculous effects.
The hero with his racing engine that can take on all kinds of
robotic forms fights against even more ridiculous robot monsters.
Once a cult TV series.—from IFFR official catalogue 2011

I read in the news that the world premiere showing of director
Noboru Iguchi’s KARATE-ROBO ZABORGER was livened up
by his on-stage antics.   He appeared on stage wearing
only a sumo style loincloth, and engaged in a performance
of the bean-throwing ceremony, which is the traditional
Japanese event known as “Setsubun”.
About Director Noboru Iguchi
Director Noboru Iguchi is a cult figure in Europe and New York.
He is the secret weapon of Otona-keikaku
(pure translation is “Adult Plan”, 
 popular theater performing group headed by Kankuro Kudo).
He makes films like….
A beautiful girl, who is in fact a mutant bred to fight, and….
an Ancient Dogoo girl who arrives in modern times to help a bumpkin,
and…
the story of a fighting Geisha Robot girl,
and…
the story of a girl with a machine gun arm,
and so on.   These films have won great popularity.
Anyway, he is an extraordinary director,
who is making films for the overseas market mostly under
SUSHI TYPHOON label from Nikkatsu.
I thinkm he is an unusual director, with an inner fortitude,
that has garnered him regular fans – afficianados of his world.
At the moment it is not a stretch of the truth to say that
both Takeshi Kitano and Mr Iguchi are the only Japanese directors
who have a large fan-base throughout the world.
Kitano is artistic and Iguchi is fantastic.
They are both extremes, but on closer examination their world view
might be getting closer as “quantity” changes into “quality”.
By the way, director Iguchi’s fantastic relates to
the fantasy, horror and psychological film festivals and
fans of these sort of films.
There are many festivals throughout the world
catering for these sort of films,
so I imagine that director Iguchi is always
on tour overseas to meet with his fans.
I do not think it is too much to say that
the Japanese are now proud to be called a “freak culture”.
However, the fans of “fantastic” films are fussy
about what is their favourite films, their likes and dislikes,
and of course, the market for such films is small.
His website proclaims in its title:
“I am sure only boys will see my film,
 so I challenge the girls to come as well!”
His films are taking a firm hold on a specific strata for film fans.
It is great point in his favour, and assures that a lot of people are
looking forward to his next film.
I just wonder why Japanese theatrical release is not yet fixed?!?!
Because industry people don’t take this seriously? LOL !!
 
Next, I’ll talk about this traditional a sumo style loincloth.

Hollywood’s Awards Race is in Full Swing!

Tueday, 25 January 2010

Hollywood’s awards race is in full swing.
TKS.jpg 
(C) 2010 See-Saw Films. All rights reserved.
Today, I am going to talk about the Producers Guild of America.
It seems that the winner of the Darryl Francis Zanuck Producer of the Year award
went to THE KING’S SPEECH, defeating THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
This result contradicted expectations and was a big surprise in Hollywood.
Well, what kind of award is this Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year award,
from the Producers Guild of America?
It is an enormously long name. Zanuck was the legendary producer behind
ALL ABOUT EVE. This prize is given as a reflection of his distinguished services.
It is attributed as being an index that is closest to the Academy Awards.
By the way, in comparison with the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards
these Producers Guild awards are relatively unknown.
Members of the PGA (Producers Guild of America) vote on this prize.
Only producers who meet the requirements laid down can become a member.
They must have credit on more than two theatrically released films as a producer.
Beginners luck does not exist here. They must also keep their status a secret.
Producers who work for a major studio for several years
can easily increase the number of films they gain credit on,
but how do independent producers gain the right to vote??
1) One feature length film with Exclusive Theatrical Runs in a minimum of 2 markets
one of which must have a population of over 1 million.
Theatrical runs must be at least one week to qualify; or
2) VOD (Video on Demand) – One feature length film that has gone direct to DVD
and is distributed through Netflix, Blockbuster, etc; or
3)One feature length film in any of the following major film festivals:
AFI Fest (USA) / Berlin International Film Festival (Germany) /
Cannes Festival International Du Film (France) / New York Film Festival (USA)
Sundance Film Festival (USA) / Telluride Film Festival (USA)
Toronto Film Festival (Canada) / Tribeca Film Festival (USA) / Venice Film Festival (Italy)

It you meet one of these requirements you gain access to membership.
It feels that No.2 more than No.1, and No.2 than No.3…
I mean that I feel that No.2 is the easiest way to gain a chance of entry.
I heard from a producer that the films made for Internet streaming/download
can also be considered as your resume.
The particular point of reference is regarding “a feature film”.
Is seems the budget does not matter.
However at the moment it seems insurmountable.
It has to have the reference from one member of the PGA
and two people from the industry.
They have to have worked in the same project before,
so it is not only about the paperwork.
The guild signature is like a stamp of approval on any cirriculum vitae.
It is seems to be a pretty good society to join,
but does seem almost impossible.
It somehow reminds me of the Harvard University secret society in
THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
It said
“an application form that is submitted without recommendations
will be returned immediately without consideration”.
Pheeew, that’s cheeky.
For all of these reasons, I guess any producer who receives the prize
should feel very happy, given all the seemingly insurmountable
difficulties they have encountered.
Well then, a producer that who has faced the relentless judgement
should achieve great success commercially and artistically.
The producer of THE KING’S SPEECH is one such person.
The film has been nominated in 14 categories
at the British Academy of Film & Television Arts awards,
which is the greatest number ever.
Although I do not doubt it’s high quality
I wonder how it will fair in the current climate in Japan.
Personally I am looking forward to seeing it,
and to viewing the bewitching performance of Geoffrey Rush,
who received the Academy Award for his role in Scott Hick’s SHINE.
Come to think of it there are a lot foreign films this year,
that make me want to go to the cinema.
It is so exciting to watch an American film, with popcorn.
Ooops, this is an English film.
I’m sure if I was a cinema owner,
I would make you watch the film with afternoon tea served with silverware.

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