Undercover Interview Day 3
【Fighting the intense heat】
A certain day in August. This summer is hot. (The summer of 2010 was later called "the hottest summer in recorded history," and August in particular is said to have been "the hottest month in recorded history. (August in particular is said to have been "the hottest month in recorded history." This summer saw record high temperatures for an extended period.) In the midst of such heat, Mikawa Eiga' "Happy Endings" was cranked in late July and had been shooting in a training camp for over a month. On the third day of the interview, we decided to stay at Mikawa Eiga' training camp since the filming started early in the morning. This was a unique opportunity to take a peek at Mikawa Eiga' training camp.
Lead actor and director who lost 5 kg
I arrived at Toyota City Station on the Mikawa at 13:30. The Mikawa Eiga staff welcomed me as I suddenly arrived alone for the interview. The person who picked me up at Toyota City Station was Ms. Ryoko, a member of the location scouting team. On the way to the filming location, I told her that I was looking forward to staying at the training camp, to which she laughed and said, "Don't get your hopes up. I wondered what kind of place the members of Mikawa Eiga were living in.
By the time I arrived at the filming location, it was around 2:30 pm. Although the sun was beginning to set, it was still scorching hot. Unlike when we had met before, the staff was tanned black. The faces of the two lead actors and the main staff were clearly different from those at the crank-in. They look very interesting and strong. When I mentioned this to them, Mr. Kondo, the record keeper, laughed, saying that it was probably just because they had lost weight.
The lead actor, Mr. Inoue, director Iwamatsu, and lighting designer Furukawa all lost 5 kg in the first week of shooting. They were not suffering from summer heat exhaustion, but were losing weight even though they were eating hearty meals. It must take a lot of energy to fight through this intense heat.
On the set, salt candy was handed out to the actors and crew, and they were forced to eat it. The heat was so intense that salt candy was handed out several times a day. Whenever the director called for a "cut," the cameraman, Mr. Imai, would turn a small fan toward the camera. It is said that many times during filming, the camera overheats from the heat and stops. Each time this happens, the shooting is put on standby until the camera cools down. It was not only the machines that were suffering from the heat. Mr. Masaki, the sound man, was sweating like a waterfall, and even with a towel wrapped around his head, he blurted out that he could not see what was in front of him because of the sweat. Two large tanks for drinks were always available on the set (apparently also sponsored), but the contents were quickly emptied, so the assistant director had to refill the tanks with tea several times.
The most surprising part of today's interview was when they were filming a scene in which the lead actor, Inoue-san, was walking with his body shaking with anger. The director said, "Yo, start! I was watching his performance, which was as possessed as ever, when suddenly, from behind me, there was a bang! The noise was so loud that the staff was startled. The staff was startled by the loudness of the noise, and before the director could say "cut," they all turned to look in the direction of the noise. They found Mr. Suzuki, an assistant cameraman, lying unconscious on the ground with a reflector in his hand. He seemed to have suffered heat stroke due to the heat. The staff rushed to help him, but to their surprise, Inoue, the lead actor, also collapsed on the spot, convulsing and vomiting foam from his mouth. Mr. Inoue was not suffering from heat stroke, but rather had become so angry and upset with his role that he had convulsed. This kind of thing happens all the time, said Kondo-san, the film recorder. Ms. Takeuchi, a production assistant, was applying a wet towel to his neck. Inoue-san's tremendous possession of his role was so great that we feared he might not be able to come back to the real world.
A hot supper awaits
After a short break, filming continued, but Mr. Nakayama, the line producer, overheard the director. It seemed that Kana, the lead actress, was suffering from heat stroke and was running a fever. Despite her condition, she did not show any concern and continued filming. A staff member said to her, "It's 38 degrees Celsius. What should we do? The director went to see Kana. When asked by the director if she was safe, Kana replied, "I'm fine. Please continue filming. I was impressed by her mental strength, but she was clearly pale. But when the director was told that, he simply said, "All right. Well, let's continue," and with that, he goes off to a meeting with the cameraman. I thought he was an ogre in human form, but then the word "comrade" suddenly popped into my mind. They were more like "comrades" fighting the same battle. They have the strength of a bond that has passed through many battles together.
So I understand painfully her desire to fight through. She is not the only one who is fighting. All the other actors and staff members are here struggling with their own issues. It is because they understand each other that she continues to fight. Their interaction is a feeling that can only be understood by those who have gone through such a struggle.
After all the filming for the day was completed, the crew and cast got on a location bus and headed for the training camp. When we arrived at the camp, we found it to be a small house. The location was a planned highway construction site, and the residents had apparently been evicted, but the construction had not yet started, so they were able to rent the house at a special low price.
When we arrived at the camp, it was dark, but the lights were on. As we entered, we found a group of elderly women preparing dinner. They were local housewives who came to cook meals at the camp every day on a rotating basis. When the assistant director called me to tell me that filming was finished, they were preparing a hot meal for me upon my arrival.
The cooperation of the locals did not stop there. When we peeked into the room called the "costume room" of the camp, we found that the costumes were indeed lined up on hangers on a mobile stand, but the problem was the area around the stand. On the floor of the room, there were cardboard boxes filled with beverages, and there was no place to stand on, with somen noodles, retort-pouch foods, vegetables, rice bales, and watermelons lying around. All of these items were sponsored by local people. In addition to the food, everything else in the camp, such as dishes, refrigerators, washing machines, bedding, etc., had been donated by local residents.
The actors and staff gathered around a long table in the living room and men's room of the camp. A lively dinner with a large group of people begins. I felt a sense of camaraderie would grow as the actors and staff ate and slept together under one roof. After dinner was finished, the actors on duty began washing dishes. In addition, it seems that garbage and bath duty are also assigned.
Sleeping without air conditioning and wearing a mask on a tropical night
Living under one roof may seem like a good thing, but there are two drawbacks. One is that the bathrooms are small and only one person at a time can take a bath; after a day of filming, one's body is so sweaty that it takes more than three hours for everyone to finish taking a bath, even though it is impossible not to.
Another thing is that there is no air conditioning. When the camp started, a small air conditioner was installed only in the women's room (also sponsored), but that air conditioner also broke down about a week ago, and apparently a water leak created a puddle in the room and caused a big commotion. So now, there is no air conditioner in any of the rooms at the camp. Even after taking a bath, it is still a tropical night every day. Soon, my body starts to sweat. The first people to get out of the bath went to bed, but because of the heat, we could not fall asleep no matter how hard we tried. The actors were all wearing masks to prevent their throats from getting sore from the dust in the shabby rooms. It is amazing how adaptable people are. With the actors sleeping with cool faces by my side, I fell asleep just as it was getting light around me.