Thursday, June 11, 2015

DAVE FILONI MEETS THE CAST AND CREW OF MECHAGODZILLA! MG's Biggest Fan Enjoys the Japanese Vacation of a Lifetime!

Executive producer/supervising director Dave Filoni meets two Godzilla series legends: screenwriter Hiroyasu Yamaura (left) and designer Akihiko Iguchi (right). Photo by Brett Homenick.

The film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) has no bigger champion than Dave Filoni. But Dave is no ordinary fan. He skyrocketed to success by helming the movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), as well as the subsequent Emmy® Award-winning TV series (2008-2014). Dave is now executive producer/supervising director of a new critically-acclaimed TV series, Star Wars Rebels (2014-), which has quickly become a fan favorite.

Hiroyasu Yamaura and Akihiko Iguchi show off their newly-acquired artwork, personally drawn by Dave Filoni. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Taking his first vacation since 2008, Dave has come to the Land of the Rising Sun and embarked on a journey that would be a dream come true for any fan of Godzilla's greatest mechanical foe. A few weeks before arriving in Japan, Dave contacted me, and my friend Yasushi and I began working on introducing Dave to several Toho alumni who had worked on Mecagodzilla.

Dave Filoni proudly shows his Akihiko Iguchi Mechagodzilla rendering for the camera. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Over time, we successfully arranged meetings with four personalities: designer Akihiko Iguchi, screenwriter Hiroyasu Yamaura, SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano, and actor Masaaki Daimon. Yasushi and I had met the first three gentlemen at previous events and gatherings, but Daimon-san would be brand-new for us, too, increasing the excitement that much more.

The first meeting was scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 7, which coincidentally also happened to be Dave's birthday. I met Dave at Shinjuku Station, and we made our way to Shin-Yurigaoka Station to meet Iguchi-san and Yamaura-san for lunch at a French restaurant. On the way, we talked about Godzilla and some of our early childhood memories of watching the movies for the first time.

Two Mechagodzilla legends reveal their true feeling about the spacemen from the Third Planet of the Black Hole! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Yasushi and Iguchi-san met us at the station, and Yamaura-san joined us at the restaurant. We spent a few hours together, and Dave got to ask many questions (all of which were translated ahead of time by Yasushi) about their respective careers. Dave gave each gentleman a woodblock with original King Seesar art on it, and Iguchi-san returned the favor by giving Dave a drawing of Mechagodzilla. Talk about an awesome birthday gift!

When the time came, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Shinjuku Station. Dave, Yasushi, and I hung out at a cafe for a while and chatted until Dave had to leave.

Dave Filoni meets SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano at Shinjuku Station. Photo by Brett Homenick.

We met again at Shinjuku Station the following day with SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. We went to a Japanese restaurant for a few hours, and Dave and Nakano-san swapped stories about working in the movie biz.

Teruyoshi Nakano reflects on his decades-long special effects career over lunch. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After that, we immediately made our way to a nearby cafe and met with actor Masaaki Daimon and his manager. Daimon-san played Keisuke Shimizu in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Kusakari in Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). Daimon-san has also appeared in Return of Ultraman (1971-72), Lady Snowblood (1973), Cockroach Cop (1973), G-Men '75 (1975-82), Ultraman 80 (1980-81), and Zero (1984). We were all very excited to meet Daimon-san, and I'm pleased to report that he exceeded our expectations. He was a very open-minded gentleman who appreciated that we were interested in his career.

Actor Masaaki Daimon poses with Dave Filoni and his new Star Wars artwork. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After about an hour and a half, I had to leave to go to work. (Gotta make a living!) As I was going to the elevator (in a bit of a rush, as I was already a little late), Dave followed me out and gave me a gift, thanking me for helping to organize these meetings. Suffice it to say, I was touched by the gesture.

That's a wrap! Yours truly with Dave Filoni, a real Godzilla fan!

Many thanks to Dave for being such an energetic and enthusiastic fan of Godzilla. It's always refreshing to know that people who truly understand fans and fandom are in important positions in the entertainment business. Hollywood could certainly use a lot more folks like Dave Filoni!

Arigato gozaimasu, Dave-san!

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