Sunday, March 27, 2016
AN EARLY BIRTHDAY PRESENT! Dining with a Pair of Toho Greats!
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.
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.
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.)
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!