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HN: Please reflect on your experience of completing a feature film by continuously working on it for over seven years since starting the project as a solo filmmaker. Additionally, if you had any experience that you think will be helpful for creators who are developing or planning to make independent animated films, could you please let us know?

Kenji Iwaisawa: In my case, it really was a simple matter of continuing work on the production without stopping, so there is almost nothing that I can advise them on in terms of the technical side of things.

This is more about mentality, but one thing I know now was that I had a feeling from the beginning of the project that when this film On-Gaku: Our Sound was completed, it would be seen and appreciated by many people. I thought that there were quite many people who wanted to watch this kind of film, as if I was just an audience.

So, I could think to myself that this film would be a success if I could complete it. In the case of a normal feature film, I think the criterion for success of the film is whether the publicity of the finished work could attract a wide audience to theatres. On the other hand, I had the confidence that when completing the film, it will be a hot topic. I think that kind of thing is what makes creators possible to work hard and make it through, even if it’s a hard project.


Making a scene using the rotoscoping technique


Kenji Iwaisawa: And one thing what I find strange in terms of film projects in general is that when making a film, people tend to try to immediately establish a framework for the project, such as getting all the necessary staff together first, or getting all the technical things you need for the production. I think many people tend to overly assume that a film project won’t work if all the necessary members don’t come together for the team properly.

Of course, if you can’t form a team properly, I think the film production will often be more difficult. But in reality, a film can be made only by a single director, and it just takes a lot of time.

For example, I feel that most people think rotoscoping, the technique I used for this film, is a difficult animation technique, which takes time and effort. However, for me, the opposite is true. I think the hurdle of making animation is lowered with rotoscoping because live-action videos exist as a base for drawing.

Thinking this way, I think that there are a lot of things which can become a useful choice depending on your way of thinking but you exclude from your option because of your assumptions. I think it’s very important to notice this and manage your project.