Ootomo Keiji on Fukuyama Masaharu (2009.12)
Extract from NHK Ryomaden Site - Interview with Director Ootomo Keiji
Here is the “Fukuyama Masaharu” that no-one has ever seen before.
■ You said “Fukuyama-san is a perfect match for the ‘Ryoma’ this time”, could you be a bit more specific?
O: In Fukuyama-san, there is a part of him that is very detailed and sensitive, and a part that is very manly. He is multi-faceted and covers a very wide range of possibilities. And Ryoma too has many different faces. This may just be me, but I feel Fukuyama-san does not carry any prejudices or presumptions when he approaches different things. His stance is to first try and accept, so he’s very flexible and elastic. I guess that’s a necessity when you’re a creative talent. Listening carefully to other people’s opinions first and then forming your own conclusions from them. His stance in this regard is very close to Ryoma’s, I believe.
At the same time, characteristics like his voice; posture and sensitivity to music are all very similar. When you read Ryoma’s letters, you could sense his humour and rhetoric. Ryoma’s letters give me the same feeling as Fukuyama-san’s lyrics, both are very sensitive men.
And after including the journey taken by Fukuyama Masaharu in his growth and maturity as an artist, we felt that the “Ryoma” we wanted is right there. I don’t think Fukuyama-san needs to strain himself to play this role, because he’s got Ryoma there. (laugh)
■ The actors seem to refer to a “ceremony” that occurs before each shoot?
O: Before each scene in Tosa, we have to shower the actors in dust. The roads of Tosa in the South were not paved in those days, so you’d expect clouds of dust to fly in the wind or when ox-carts pass etc. We’d ask the actors to stand in costume in front of big electric fans and shower them with dust (fine cornstarch). That’s the so-called pre-shooting “ceremony”. It’s the same with Fukuyama-san, we’d cover up his face and blow dust over his hair and clothes until they looked white.
■ And the Progressive Camera (commonly known as 30P Camera) used this time should give us a more extensive view of the performances?
O: That’s right! We can get the visual impact of a movie already without need for much editing. There is visual depth and we can take long shots without stopping. Scenes can be filmed in their full essence and duration. For the actors, they can play their part in continuity in a single shot from beginning to end, even for very long scenes.
For good actors, the longer we can keep their part going, the easier it is for unplanned natural emotions to surface. So one benefit of long shots, is to allow the actors to feel their emotions surging out continuously and to build them up. The outcome? A natural flow of emotion beyond our expectation. Scenes like that will allow the actors to interact on an emotional level to a state where even they themselves cannot foresee. Continuous shots are one method of bringing out that spark.
I want to see the display of emotional changes and behaviour that can come only from Fukuyama-san himself. I have seen his acting many times in TV dramas and movies, and I strongly believe there is an astounding potential inside that is waiting to be awakened.
■ As a director, how do you feel about filming Fukuyama-san in practice?
O: I started the filming with a hope - “How many times in this one year, will we be able to see a Fukuyama Masaharu that has never been seen before?” And I got my wish in our first outdoor setting. I had never seen Fukuyama-san act with such emotional upheaval. As a performer, there exists in the basic essence of Fukuyama-san, a very strong passion and intensity indeed. He was able to show us a real live “Ryoma”.
As a director, I believe the most important thing for an actor is “Nuance” (the ability to express the subtle shades of feelings, meanings, implications and tones). In reality, the more true they try to stick to a role, the more it implies they are just acting it out. Of course, you could say that is also a method in performing. But if an actor can base his portrayal on the “feelings” of the character instead, then the delicate nuances he possesses inside himself will flow out naturally. And that type of acting becomes an impromptu jam concert (a spontaneous performance).
So using our method of long continuous shots, how much of that potential inside Fukuyama-san will we be able to draw out? This is now a contest between Fukuyama-san and us staff.
At the same time, I’m stirring up the emotions of Omori-san (playing Takechi Hanpeita) and Kagawa-san (playing Iwasaki Yataro) in their performances. As long as they are on high tension, Fukuyam-san will also be able to shine as he plays opposite them. Going forward, we’re going to see a “Fukuyama Masaharu” that even Fukuyama-san is unaware of himself. At first, we expected this to happen around episodes 9 or 10, but he was actually able to show us as early as episodes 5 and 6.
“Hey, if this goes on, even I can’t say what’s going to happen next!” I’m starting to think like that (laugh)
~The End ~
This extract was taken from the sections directly relevant to Masha in Ootomo-san’s interview. The rest of the interview talks about the similarities of Ryoma with major league baseball player Ichiro Suzuki (イチロー); Ootomo-san’s view of Ryoma; the art direction and styling used and reiteration of how they will focus of Ryoma’s journey of personal growth in Season 1.
Translated from the Chinese version in Fukuyama Honne Article 7325, with reference to the original posts in the NHK official Ryomaden website Part 1 and Part 2 (dated 2009.12.06 and 12.13)
This English translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)