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Noritaka Kawaguchi p2

Anime producer Noritaka Kawaguchi talks about how they made Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below...

In 2007, Mr Kawaguchi received the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Animated Film for the previous Makoto Shinkai anime 5 Centimeters per Second.
But later an earthquake hit Tokyo, shaking up Mr Kawaguchi’s eighth floor studio.
Several computers were damaged, and the award was shattered.
But he was surprised and happy to receive a replacement award at the November 24 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below was also nominated for an Asia Pacific Screen Award.
It didn’t win, but it’s a visually beautiful film.
Mr Kawaguchi talked about how he became an anime producer.
Mr Kawaguchi said that when he left school he studied business administration, then worked at one of the five big trading companies in Japan, which make everything from Chinese noodles to movies.
He was placed in the entertainment division of the company.
They started up a new company, as part of the trading company, and called it CoMix Wave.
Then he grew tired of working for the trading company and bought CoMix Wave.
He said he usually had a couple of movies under production at the same time.
Other CoMix Wave productions include Jun Awazu’s Planzet, and Peeping Life.

Mr Kawaguchi led a group from the public, including me, around a room full of pictures from Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below.
There were colorful concept art and backgrounds hanging on the walls, along with storyboards, character designs and shots or frames drawn in pencil with some colored in Photoshop.
He talked us through the whole process of making an anime.
He said it all started with a scriptwriter or director submitting a story idea to the producer: this could be a few lines or the length of a novel, Mr Kawaguchi said.
He’d then decide whether to go ahead with it.
He received many scripts sent to his studio, but he didn’t produce many of these.
He said he didn’t like some scripts because they were all about satisfying the creator’s ego rather than considering the audience.
He said he would consider the themes of each script, and whether the public would accept them: “if it fits the world”.
He said it took two or three years to make a movie, with 200 to 300 staff, so it was a difficult decision whether to make a movie. It had to be worth taking two to three years out of people’s lives.
If he decided to proceed, he’d get a screenplay from the scriptwriter.
The screenplay took three or four months to write, with meetings every day.
But he said the whole story of Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below had been in the head of the director Makoto Shinkai the whole time. He smiled and said that usually the director wouldn’t listen to any suggestions for changes.
Mr Kawaguchi said he had had to put some limits on the story length of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, or else the director would have made it too long.
Then at some time along the way the director would start making image boards or concept art, to show what the movie and its scenes would look like.
There were some of these around the room: colorful pictures of green valleys, sunsets, stairways around rocky ruins.
Concept pictures were not exactly as they appeared in the movie.
Then the animators would start the background art.
These are the settings in front of which the characters move around.
With the pictures used for backgrounds, the director might tell the background director he wanted a kitchen from 300 B.C., and the background director would go away, research and come back with the background drawing.
There were backgrounds for every important scene. Takumi Tanji was art director.
Once the screenplay was completed they moved onto the character design.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.