Sunday, March 27, 2016

AN EARLY BIRTHDAY PRESENT! Dining with a Pair of Toho Greats!

Director Kensho Yamashita, designer Akihiko Iguchi, and yours truly enjoy dinner at a restaurant in Kawasaki, Kanagawa.

With my birthday being right around the corner, I went to dinner with kaiju designer Akihiko Iguchi in Kawasaki. When I arrived, I learned that he had a surprise for me: Kensho Yamashita, director of Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994), would be joining us.

Akihiko Iguchi and Kaiju Booska enjoy their meal together. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The conversation was lively, and both gentlemen shared great stories. I learned that Yamashita-san scouted locations in the U.S. for one of my favorite films, Blue Christmas (1978), on which he served as assistant director. It turns out he scouted San Diego as a possible location, but given the bright blue of the sky and ocean, it was rejected in favor of New York, which better fit the tone of the movie.

Kensho Yamashita and Akihiko Iguchi enjoy each other's company. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Yamashita-san discussed his debut movie as assistant director at Toho, the Kei Tani vehicle called Kiki kaikai ore wa dareda?! (1969), and he was surprised when I was able to find the poster image easily on Iguchi-san's smartphone. (Even though I haven't seen it, I was familiar with the film already.)

Kensho Yamashita with the poster image of Kiki kaikai ore wa dareda?! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Yamashita-san told many stories about working with director Kihachi Okamoto on films like the aforementioned Blue Christmas and Battle of Okinawa (1971). Yamashita-san also assistant-directed Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975).

Iguchi-san talked about his work on The Human Revolution (1973) and the difficulty of getting the storm effects just right. Both men agreed that working with fire and water is just about the most difficult thing about doing SFX.

It was a wonderful, laugh-filled evening. I was expecting a quiet meal, but we all had a blast taking photos, telling stories, and laughing along the way. Suffice it to say, it blew my expectations out of the water. What a great evening! Special thanks to both gentlemen!

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