Saturday, November 14, 2009

Meet Takeshi Furukawa

Takeshi Furukawa, also known as TK, is our composer for NONAMES. This brilliant musician submitted a short demo reel that resonated so deeply we contacted him immediately. Hundreds of talented musicians submitted reels but there was something really special about TK's work that spoke to our film and us.

So many indie films use very simple scores that effectively tell the story. We decided we wanted a fuller sound to enhance the grand scope of the look of the film and underlying heartache and struggle of our main character. TK understood exactly what we were looking for and we're so lucky we all had that connection because he had a very short period of time to write 16 original orchestral pieces - two weeks I believe.

Since the post-production was based in NY and TK lives in LA, we had to work remotely, constantly uploading new versions of each cue, emailing and calling each other back and forth and truthfully, it was hard to keep up with him.  Thankfully he was so patient and giving throughout this process and the end result is absolutely beautiful. I am deeply moved each time I listen to our score. You can hear a few of the tracks from our film on his website,

Robin (Producer) and I flew out to LA for the recording and mix of the score. We recorded a few cues and completed our mix at The Village Recorder in West LA - where there's so much history of rock-n-roll coming out of the walls you can feel it. It's been home to Bob Dylan, The Stones, Pink Floyd and the list goes on and on. We also recorded a large portion of the score at Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank. This beautiful Studio hosted our amazing 19-piece Orchestra consisting of 15 Strings, 2 Woodwinds and 2 French Horns. Watching TK conduct the orchestra while observing his talented team work in the recording room was a gift. His team consists of Matthew St. Laurent (Orchestrator), Shin Miyazawa (Sound Mixer and Recordist) Jorge Velasco (Digital Sound Recordist), Judy Yoo (Music Production Coordinator), Scott Smith (Mixing Assistant Engineer) Ron Vermillion (Music Copyist) and Brendan Dekora (Scoring Assistant Engineer).

This experience was amazing, surreal and one of my favorite chapters in the making of NONAMES. This little film has a big score and sometimes, I do believe the stars align so that creative artists find each other to collaborate on projects like ours to create something very special.  TK is already doing outstanding work and has his whole career ahead of him.  There will be quite a few awards on his shelves on years to come, mark my words. 

And now, a word from TK himself...

To me, scoring NONAMES was like writing a symphonic tone poem. The film is incredibly well crafted and doesn’t need the music to patch up any weak spots. Hence it really gave me, as the composer, liberty to write music that stands on its own while contributing an emotional layer to the picture.

The entire score is based on a single motif, which unfolds itself through the main title cue. From there, I was able to manipulate the thematic material to reflect the subtle tones and emotions of each scene. Working on the score this way was a truly artistically rewarding process, and one of the main reasons why I sought after the project.

Kathy had a very strong (and tasteful) vision for the score and I decided to rely heavily on the piano and string orchestra to create an intimate yet posh tone to the music. Overall the score is very subtle and understated to give space for the beautiful visuals play itself out on screen. The last thing I wanted for the score was to bombard the film with sonic clutter, an unfortunate trend seen too often these days. Hence the composition and orchestration is kept very simple and light, taking well-placed broad strokes instead of overly intricate writing. Through our creative collaboration, I believe Kathy and I were able to come up with a score that compliments the film very elegantly.

An independent film of this caliber doesn’t come along too often, and it was absolutely a privilege to be a part of the team. From the moment I saw the first frame of the opening montage to the final hours of mixing the score, NONAMES reminded me why I chose this as my profession.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Meet Kenny Wilson

Meet the guy behind the camera, our Director of Photography, Kenny Wilson.  We often give so much credit to those in front of the camera we forget to honor the artists with vision that play a significant role in creating the look of the film. NONAMES is a beauty and much of that is due to Kenny's attention to detail and passion for storytelling.

When we first met Kenny, we knew he was the right visual interpreter for NONAMES, as he referenced the same looks and storytelling of our favorite films of the seventies.  Filmmakers Terrance Malick, Peter Bogdanovich, George Roy Hill and Hal Ashby were all influential but moreover than their specific films, we talked about their unique styles.  We had many discussions about 'patient storytelling'...traits all of those directors shared.  We missed the era when films were able to take a deep breath and then slowly exhale instead of running and gasping for air just to get the point across.   We made a decision early on that we would take our time, shoot it on 35mm film with anamorphic lens and exploit the beauty that exists in celluloid.  It was our unwillingness to compromise using film over digital and Kenny's dedication, waiting a very long time while we raised the funds to shoot in this medium that we can now celebrate this film and collaboration that provided us with an end product we are all very proud of.

On set, even with the many obstacles of shooting an independent film with little time and money, Kenny rallied for shots he strongly believed in and adjusted accordingly when weather or set difficulties challenged us.  It is reassuring to have someone that knows exactly the look and mood you wish to create, behind the camera.  We did have our limitations on perhaps an overly ambitious script for a first film and many that are inherent to indie films overall but we accomplished a great deal for our budget and schedule, thanks to a very talented cast and crew. 

We were very lucky to find Kenny and wish him the very best in his career as a Director of Photography/Storyteller/Visionary.

And now, in Kenny's own words:

“A photograph is not an objective interpretation of visible reality, but rather a subjective interpretation of what we feel.  I approach every film with a few key broad strokes, but really try to uncover the thousands of 'telling details' that organically construct a scene, like an architect developing a dream. For me, filmmaking is a perfect, harmonious blend between science and art...the technical and the aesthetical."

Kenny's work spans multiple genres. His passion for indie dramas has furthered his relationship with David Gordon Green, lending second-unit photography to ALL THE REAL GIRLS and UNDERTOW, affording him the opportunity to work with all-time fave TERRENCE MALICK. Well versed in comedy and action flicks, between THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE (second unit) and the vfx-intensive thriller EYEBORGS, Wilson has come to make every shot count. Lingering, explosive, poetic, realistic. And sometimes strange.

Least we forget the small screen. His credits include the reality series ROUSCH RACING: DRIVER X for DISCOVERY, THE DRIVE for CMT, WINGS OF MAN for THE HISTORY CHANNEL, the PBS documentary BATTLE OF SAILOR’S CREEK, and a really great chance to meet Tammy Faye Baker on her last series, DEATH DEFYING (WE network). Oh yes, and lots of NASCAR, MTV and BET.

AWARDED: Kodak Outstanding Cinematography, Slamdunk Jury Award (Fudgie and Jane), Indy Spirit Nomination (George Washington), Reelwoods Best Feature Film (Chicks 101), New England Film Fest-Best Feature (You Are Alone), Wired Magazine's Best Something (IBM: Launch), Sundance Special Jury Award (All the Real Girls), Discovery Award-Toronto Film Fest, NYFCC Critics Award (George Washington), Slamdance Jury Award (The Guatemalan Handshake), Gold Space Needle-Seattle Int'l Film Fest (DoubleTime), Excellence in Filmmaking--USA National Board of Review (Undertow).

Next, we'll continue introducing our creative crew members with a spotlight on their work on NONAMES and beyond.