Film

This New Japanese Film Was Shot Fully Remotely

Director Shinichiro Ueda and the actors relied on smartphones and screen recordings, never meeting in person throughout the production of the film.
October 15, 2020, 10:51am
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For illustrative purposes only. 

Japanese Director Shinichiro Ueda is most known for his 2017 zombie movie “One Cut of the Dead,” which had a 37-minute single-take in its first act. And now the experimental filmmaker is making headlines for another technical feat — shooting a film remotely.

The 26-minute short was shot in the comfort of the actors' homes. Using smartphones and screen recordings of Zoom meetings, they were able to piece together the sequel “One Cut of the Dead Mission: Remote,” without meeting even once during production. The film dropped on YouTube in May and is still available on the platform for free.

A comedic horror film which features the same characters from “One Cut of the Dead,” the plot centers on a cast and crew shooting a short film about a mystery intruder who attacks by tickling victims so they can’t stop laughing.

It captures the hopelessness creatives — like performers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians — feel these days, as their careers are put to a halt. It’s something Ueda is experiencing himself.

“All of Japan, the entire world, is feeling a bit stressed out over the fears about the coronavirus, and so I just had a simple wish to cheer people up a bit through light-hearted entertainment,” Ueda, 36, told AP in a recent interview that, fittingly, took place via Zoom.

“Watching entertainment has saved me, helped me cope often when I was depressed. I sensed a mission of sorts that I have to make this work now.”

Following a global call out for video contributions, the director included clips from over 300 people around the world, who are seen smiling and dancing in the end credits.

According to PANPOCOPINA, Ueda’s film production group, the entire production of the short was done within a month, from conceptualization to production to release. The video was edited within five days.

Ueda is known for films like “Special Actors” and “Aesop’s Game,” which are mostly driven by visuals. He usually writes, directs, and edits his movies while working with a small budget.

For example, “One Cut of the Dead,” which runs for about 1 hour and 35 minutes, had a budget of 3 million yen ($28,500) but made over 250 times the amount domestically. It clinched a few awards such as the Japan Academy Film Prize for Best Film Editing and the Japan Academy Prize for Popularity Award - Most popular film.

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Koji Fukada called “One Cut of the Dead” a “film that passes by in a flash of mesmerized joy over pieces of a puzzle that fit utterly perfectly.” Entertainment magazine Variety said the film “captures all the craziness and exhilaration of movie-making on a minuscule budget.”

Meanwhile, comments on YouTube describe his latest film “One Cut of the Dead Mission: Remote” as absurd, creative, and pure joy.

Amid the pandemic, many filmmakers are getting creative with their productions. One of the most popular is “Host,” a horror short film about six friends who accidentally invite the attention of a demonic presence during an online séance.