Distributing no budget films on Amazon Video Direct

Do you know that Amazon started a self online distribution service called Amazon Video Direct in May 2016?

Harakiri Films has been distributing no budget films (Not) Perfect Human directed by Yuki Kuwazuru since July 2016 and Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero directed by Yuki Kuwazuru since August 2016 on Amazon Video Direct, and I'd like to evaluate the result so far.

The figures of Vimeo On Demand are included for comparison, but Amazon's figures are much higher as you can see in the chart below. The amount is very small as the royalty of (Not) Perfect Human is only USD 970 in one year at Amazon Video Direct, but I'm pretty much satisfied with the amount for this kind of no budget films.

Royalty per Platform (USD)

Jul 2016 - Jun 2017

Royalty here means the actual amount I got paid from the platforms. Vimeo gives me 90% of the rental price or the selling price, and Amazon gives me 50% of the rental price or the selling price. However, most of the money is coming from Amazon Prime Video which Amazon Prime members can watch the films unlimitedly without additional payment. For Amazon Prime Video, Amazon pays me USD 0.15/hour viewed in the US and USD 0.06/hour viewed in Japan. I only received USD 1.30 from Vimeo in the past one year as only a few people watched the films on Vimeo.

The production budget of (Not) Perfect Human is about USD 1,000, and that of Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero is about USD 3,000. However, (Not) Perfect Human is making more money than Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero...

I'd like to talk about Amazon only from here, and you can see the monthly royalty amount as below. Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero suddenly stuck out in May 2017, but that is because I started selling it in Amazon Japan too in May 2017. I was selling it in Amazon US only until then.

Amazon Video Direct Royalty (USD)

I'd like to talk about (Not) Perfect Human only from here. The chart below is the total royalty amount in each country. At this moment, we can distribute the films in these four countries through Amazon.

(Not) Perfect Human Royalty Amount (USD)

Jul 2016 - Jun 2017 total

Since (Not) Perfect Human runs 62 minutes, I can assume how many people watched the film by deciding the total amount by royalty per hour. I think many people don't watch it through the whole movie, so the actual number of people who have watched the whole movie should be much less. However, we can get the idea.

(Not) Perfect Human Hours Viewed

Jul 2016 - Jun 2017 total

What I can say from this chart is that about 13,000 hours have been viewed in one year in Japan, US, UK, and Germany. Since the film is 62 minutes, about 13,000 people may have watched it. USD 1,000 budget film has made about USD 1,000 and has been watched by 13,000 people in one year. That is not bad, right?

I think it is impossible for this kind of films to reach 13,000 people without Amazon Prime Video. Even if I release the full movie on YouTube for free, people don't watch unknown feature films on YouTube. Even if I release the full movie on Vimeo for free, simply there are not so many people who watch Vimeo regularly.

You can watch (Not) Perfect Human on Amazon Prime Video from the link below, but I would appreciate it if you watch it on Vimeo On Demand as the royalty is higher, hee hee hee...

https://www.amazon.com/Not-Perfect-Human-Kunihiro-Koyama/dp/B01I5UOK9I

Please watch Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero too if you like a bit creepy drama!

Japanese Film Channel

I started a channel called Japanese Film Channel on Vimeo 11 months ago in order to introduce Japanese independent films to the world.

https://vimeo.com/channels/1115792

Vimeo is an interesting online platform where you can find true independent films from all over the world, but the reality is that there are not many Japanese films on Vimeo. I still found some Japanese films, but most of them are amateurish.

It was painful to watch many boring films, but I found some interesting films among them. Those films are different from what you can watch in film festivals or on Netflix, and the quality might be poor comparing to bigger budget films. However, I admire those no budget filmmakers, and I'd like to introduce my favorite Japanese films on Vimeo as follows:

1. UNIVERSALOVE
 This is indeed a high quality film and not even a Japanese film, but a part of the film was shot in Japan with Japanese casts. I wondered if I should include this film in Japanese Film Channel or not, but I included it as I really loved this film. My estimated budget: USD 1 million

2. Dreamland
 This is a mockumentary style horror/thriller by French director Robin Entreinger and shot in Tokyo and Nara. I think this film is super low budget shot by only a few people, but it is scary and interesting. I would call this Japanese/French underground film, and I'm glad I discovered this film. Somehow, this film is not on Vimeo anymore, but I'd like to mention the link for Amazon. My estimated budget: USD 10K

https://www.amazon.com/Dreamland-Valentin-Bonhomme/dp/B01N4E3SYK/ref=sr_1_9?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1499571656&sr=1-9&keywords=dreamland

3. Children of Water
 This is a love comedy by Swiss director Roger Walch based in Kyoto. I'm not sure if the director intended to make it funny or serious, but it was really funny for me in a way. This is another underground film directed by a foreign guy in Japan. I think this film is super entertaining for this budget level. My estimated budget: USD 10K

4. Tengu
 Another film by Swiss director Roger Walch shot in Japan. This is about the legend of Japanese creature Tengu. Frankly speaking, the film looks cheap, but in a good way. And I think he knows it. I love the way he directs the unknown actors and shows Japanese culture. My estimated budget: USD 20K

5. Yuwaku 3
 Another film by Roger Walch. He keeps entertaining me, and I would call him the best Swiss director based in Kyoto. From my experience, it is so difficult to keep watching low budget films online, but I enjoy all of his films somehow. He knows what the audience is expecting no matter what the budget is. My estimated budget: USD 5K

6. Oh Lucy!
 This is a short film version of Oh Lucy! which was screened at Canned this year. I'm not a big fan of this film honestly, but I list it here as many people like it. My estimated budget: USD 100K

7. American Hikikomori
 This is an American short film shot in the US, but it is about Japanese family moved to the US. It is quite interesting to see how a guy can be hikikomori in a foreign country. My estimated budget: USD 50K

8. Tiger
 A drama directed by James McFay and shot in Tokyo. This film won Special Jury Prize at Pia Film Festival. My estimated budget: USD 30K

9. Actobats
 A drama directed by Daniel Lavin and shot in Japan. I watched much more Japanese films on Vimeo, but this is the minimum level I could watch the whole movie. My estimated budget: USD 10K

Unfortunately, there is only one film directed by Japanese directors here as you can see. It is so disappointing for me as there are so many Japanese independent directors who are complaining that there is no place to show their films.

I think many of those Japanese directors are not interested in showing their films or are not confident about their films. For me, the most important thing about filmmaking is to show the film to people. Even if the film is crap, the director should show it. Not showing is worse than showing crappy films. I even sell my crappy films online and receive so many bad reviews, but I lean a lot from honest reviewers online.

Also, some directors say, "I don't want to show my film online. I want the audience see my film on a big screen only." However, those directors have chances to show their films on big screens only a few times at film festivals, and only a few people come to watch their films. Then they ask the local governments' financial support for making their next films complaining that there is not enough financial support for independent films in Japan. I asked one of them, "Who is your favorite director?" She said, "François Truffaut." I asked, "Where did you see his films? On a big screen?" She said, "On DVD."

Anyway, I hope that more Japanese filmmakers will put their films on Vimeo and that Japanese Film Channel will be the place where people around the world can find Japanese underground films in the near future!

Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue by Yuya Ishii

I'm not a big fan of young Japanese director Yuya Ishii, so I usually don't go to watch his movies. I have an image of Yuya Ishii as a commercial movie director, so actually, I haven't seen much of his movies. The only movie I had seen directed by him was Our Family (Bokutachi no kazoku), and it was not something memorable although I enjoyed it.

http://www.yozora-movie.com/sp/index.html

I went to see Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (Yozora wa itsudemo saiko mitsudo no aoiro da) directed by Ishii because the general manager of movie theatre Eurospace recommended me this film. Without his recommendation, I would have not gone to see it.

It turned out as one of the most memorable Japanese films I've seen in the past a few years. 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/tokyo-night-sky-is-densest-shade-blue-review-974919

The film goes on mostly with monologues of two main characters, and it sounds like novel or poem. I normally don't like monologue or narration in films as monologue or narration tends to explain the things too much. In fact, I've seen so many Japanese films with monologue or narration recently. Most of them disappoint me as it often destroys the cinematic world being created. It is also very strange to hear that the characters suddenly start talking by himself like novel or stage play in film. I'm sick of monologue or narration in Japanese films.

However, this time, I felt very comfortable listening the monologues in this film. First of all, the characters are very strange although the film sets in real modern Tokyo. I think the strange atmosphere makes the monologues natural while the film is describing real true things about Tokyo now. 

 

Another reason I like this film is that I really empathyze with the characters and with what the film wants to say. 

Old apartments the characters living are similar to where I live now. This is a story of people living in the shade of metropolis Tokyo, but they choose to be there.

I do empathyze with those people a lot as I was working for a big company and living in a fancy apartment until a few years ago. Now my income is almost nothing, and I live in a shitty apartment no one wants to live. However, which is better? Living in a shitty place is not bad at all. 

Since I started living in the shitty place, I've neen getting away from noise such as gothips, politics, human relationshops, etc. as I don't have TV and don't meet people everyday like before. Instead, I start noticing about something else. 

I still get noise from Facebook and Twitter, and I hope I can get away from those too.

TV is gone, but Facebook and Twitter are getting worse nowadays. People talk about Trump, the conspiracy bill in Japan, etc.. If we don't hear any news about those things at all, does that change my life?

This film is trying to describe the same feeling I have as long as I understand. There are something more important than Trump or the  conspiracy bill around me. I just don't realize about those things if there are too much noise around. 

After watching this film, I really felt relaxed and relieved.

And another Japanese film I watched recently was Radiance (Hikari) directed by Naomi Kawase. This film also uses a lot of monologues as the film is about a girl who is a writer of audio descriptions for the visually impaired. I also liked this film a lot as it was interesting to see how those writers approach the film, the director, and the audience when the film is basically made for visual experience...

Moving to a new crib

I moved to an area in Osaka called Chidoribashi a few days ago. The reason why I moved is that the rent is free as the landlord is supporting my activity in filmmaking. I was paying USD 1,300 a month for the previous place and had to work longer hours to pay for the rent. Now, I think I need more time than money to continue filmmaking, so I chose to spend less money to concentrate more on filmmaking.

However, it is not that easy. The rent is free because... the place is like shit! There was nothing in the room when I moved in, but it is like this right now.

my work space.

my work space.

A problem is that I didn't have curtain, so I hang this cloth I got from Indonesian party at Busan Film Festival last year. I didn't know what to do with this cloth, but now I know. Thank you, Indonesian filmmakers.

Here is my bedroom. The same problem here. Because of no curtain, I keep waking up at 5am, and the room becomes too hot at 7am. Here, I put a piece of Indian organic cotton cloth I got from my friend Mani Chinnaswamy from India several years ago.

This clothes has a tag with a picture of a guy who wove this cloth.

Thank you, Mr K. Srinivasan and Mr P. Annadurai for letting me sleep.

Thank you, Mr K. Srinivasan and Mr P. Annadurai for letting me sleep.

But here comes the real problem. Because of rain water leaking in the room, the tatami is rotten. I'm thinking about putting some plants or flowers here...

I'm afraid of the rainy season...

I'm afraid of the rainy season...

Another problem is the toilet, traditional Japanese style toilet. I grew up with this traditional style but haven't used it for ages. I want to renovate this toilet to more artistic Japanese style toilet, but I can't find any Japanese style designers' toilet. All the designers' toilets are Western style somehow.

These toilets are disappearing in Japan.

These toilets are disappearing in Japan.

The bathroom is a problem too. There is no hot water nor shower. And why is this bathtub so small?

I'm not brave enough to take bath here...

I'm not brave enough to take bath here...

I heard there are a few old school public baths called Sento in this area, so my solution is to go there everyday...

Here is the view from the kitchen.

So here is my room, but there are 4 more rooms like this in this building. I want to utilize the rooms somehow to make the building a filmmakers' hub in Osaka.

room 404

room 404

I want to make these rooms above an editing suite and a screening room for independent filmmakers.

super high speed internet

super high speed internet

The room below stinks because of toilet problem. This room will be a storage for equipments and wardrobe.

room 403

room 403

This is the most scary room. What is that in the middle of tatami? It looks like a shape of human. The landlord told me that someone living here died at a hospital, and I hope so. You can shoot real creepy films here.

room 402

room 402

Seems like someone was living here at least until 2009...

Seems like someone was living here at least until 2009...

I'm using this room below for the space everyone can come and relax...

room 401

room 401

Nice rooftop, isn't it? You can shoot a scene of someone trying to jump off the building here.

rooftop

rooftop

The CM below for the rat trap was shot here.

Moreover, there is a huge garage on the ground floor.

garage

garage

I think there are so many things we can do in this building. Let me know if anyone has any idea to utilize these spaces especially for filmmakers.

A few years ago, we shot this creepy film called Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero in this building. Now the film is available at Vimeo On Demand, and you can watch it for free if you enter promo code "yamamoto" now!

SMELL, BUT I LOVE YOU on Vimeo!

Press Release

April 5, 2017

Release of Smell, But I Love You at Vimeo

 

We’d like to announce that online distribution of short film Smell, But I Love You, which was screened at more than 20 film festivals around the world and won many awards, will start shortly at Vimeo On Demand as follows:

 

short film

Smell, But I Love You

directed by Kazuo Nagai

available on Apr 7, 2017

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/smell

USD 1.00 to rent / USD 5.00 to buy

 

You can read more about the film from be link above. In this opportunity, we’d like to invite first 100 people to watch the film for free for the limited time only. Could you please mention the following special link on your article, website, blog, SNS, etc. to let your readers watch it for free?

 

https://vimeo.com/r/1TaY/cnJDN05QcC

viewing period from Apr 7 till 14, 2017

 

We would appreciate it if you would use the embed code below to embed a trailer of the film on your website, blog, SNS, etc.:

 

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/206374604" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

 

Sincerely,

Taro Imai

producer, harakiri films

Shron Dayoc Goes to Japan

I spent most of the time from the end of December till early January with the number one Filipino director, Sheron Dayoc. Actually, all my Filipino friend directors are number one directors from Philippines, so he is just on of them, hahaha... He came to Osaka to make a research for his new narrative feature film project. Yes, we are making a film together in Japan hopefully next year!

Sheron's journey in Japan was very interesting for me too. From Dec 31 till Jan 9, we interviewed 6 Filipino caregivers or hostesses in Osaka and in Tokyo. When Sheron just arrived at Osaka, we didn't know where we could find those Filipinos to interview. So we went to some Filipino pubs, Filipino restaurant called Bamboo, and Catholic Tamatsukuri Church where many Filipinos gather. They helped us a lot introducing us the caregivers and giving us the information. The church was very interesting for me as you can see the picture below...

The most interesting interview was a transgender woman who came to Japan as a dancer 30 years ago, worked for many places in Japan, worked as a caregiver for a while, and is now again a hostess. Her personal story, her relationship with her family in Philippines, and her experience in Japan were very touching as she went through so many things. Also, I realized that there were so many things I didn't know about immigrants in Japan.

We visited a hospital for the elderly and a home for the elderly where Filipino caregivers are working. I had mixed feelings about the elder people there, their family, Japanese caregivers, and Filipino caregivers. I can't write about this issue so short here as it is very complicated matter, but that is the real issue we are facing in Japan.

The issue is so complicated and so deep. That's why we want to make a film about a story of Filipino caregiver working in home for elderly in Japan! Thank you for all the people we interviewed in Osaka and in Tokyo and all those helped us!

Tokyo International Film Festival!

Hi, this is Taro Imai from Harakiri Films, Osaka. The past 2 weeks had been crazy for me.

On Oct 28, we wrapped up shooting of Korea Japan co-production independent film Anatano Uchuwa Daijobu Desuka? in Osaka.

On Oct 29, I was about to go to Itami Airport to attend a party called Tokyo Cinema Night at Tokyo International Film Festival. Then I heard a news that the assistant director of Anatano Uchuwa Daijobu Desuka? was hit by a car last night and was in a coma at a hospital. He is our friend who worked with us for a month together, so I thought I should cancel my trip to Tokyo. Fortunately, I heard that his life was OK, so I packed my clothes and rushed the the airport.

Our beloved assistant director, Minuk, from Korea in the middle.

Our beloved assistant director, Minuk, from Korea in the middle.

On the same day, we started crowdfunding for Anatano Uchuwa Daijobu Desuka? as you can check the link below. We all had mixed feelings about promoting crowdfunding when our friend was fighting for his life, but here it is.

https://motion-gallery.net/projects/onajisoranoshitade

In the afternoon, I arrived at my favorite hostel called Tokyo Hutte near Tokyo Sky Tree. The price is 3,000 yen per night for tatami dormitory, but I was the only one guest in the room!

Tatami dormitory at Tokyo Hutte

Tatami dormitory at Tokyo Hutte

At night, I went to Tokyo Cinema Night with Akiyo Fujimura, a director of Eriko, Pretended which I produced. The party was supposed to be an event to connect Japanese young filmmakers and foreign film guys, but I didn't see much young Japanese filmmakers there. Come on, where are they? 

Freddy Olsson from Goteborg Film Festival and his red dragon at Tokyo Cinema Night. Freddy, please choose Akiyo's film!

Freddy Olsson from Goteborg Film Festival and his red dragon at Tokyo Cinema Night. Freddy, please choose Akiyo's film!

A poster of my film, Eriko, Pretended and a poster of this film at TIFF, hahaha

A poster of my film, Eriko, Pretended and a poster of this film at TIFF, hahaha

On Oct 30, I went to see a short film, Watashiga Hatsuga Suru Hi directed by Kozue Nomoto and starring Haruna Hori at Eizou Grand Prix as I'm hoping to have a screening of this film in Osaka next year. I just worked with Haruna Hori for Korea Japan co-production film, so I was happy to see her on the screen.

On Oct 31, I helped a screening of Snow Woman directed by Kiki Sugino for the competition of TIFF as I'm an assistant producer of this film. Honestly saying, I haven't seen this film yet, but everyone is telling me that this film is beautiful and interesting, so I'm looking forward to seeing it soon too. I even saw my favorite director, Hirokazu Koreeda at the screening. I want to know how he felt about the film.

At the festival, I met Pamela Reyes, a classmate of Ties That Bind and her director Mikhail Red. They were there for their film, Birdshot. Somehow, I get along very well with Filipino filmmakers, so I want to continue making good relationship with them. Again, I don't know why young Japanese filmmakers don't come to talk to these talented filmmakers here. As you can see on the pic, there is one of the greatest directors from Asia is here.

Pamela Reyes, Mikhail Red, Liza Dino-Seguerra, Lav Diaz, Hazel Orencio, Arnold Cruz Reyes, and me

Pamela Reyes, Mikhail Red, Liza Dino-Seguerra, Lav Diaz, Hazel Orencio, Arnold Cruz Reyes, and me

At night, we went out to Shinjuku for drinking all night...

Don Saron in the middle...

Don Saron in the middle...

I wanna go to this bar in Shinjuku again but don't remember...

I wanna go to this bar in Shinjuku again but don't remember...

We went to 3 bars in Shinjuku guided by super nice actress Makiko Watanabe. Makiko san is a great actress, but she took us around Shinjuku. I think this is the real omotenashi, the way of welcoming people in Japan. Thank you, Makiko san.

Nov 1, I saw 4K remaster version of Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) directed by Mikio Naruse. This is definitely not a film to watch when you have hungover, so I'm not gonna comment about film itself. About 4K remaster, I noticed that the dialogue and the music were too loud and too clear. I have never seen the original version, so I can't compare with the original version, but the dialogue and the music sounded a bit annoying for me. The background ambient sound sounded too low, and that sounded unbalanced for me. I felt this film has a lots of Western influence although it is called a masterpiece of Japanese classic cinema. Use of Middle Eastern like music and dialogue between the guy and the woman sounds like Western cinema. The story is melodrama like Casablanca. Anyway, I should watch this film when I don't have hungover again.

At night, finally a screening of Birdshot directed by Mikhail Rad and produced by Pamela Reyes! Beautiful, thrilling, and mesmerizing. How can you guys make such a kickass film, Mikhail and Pamela? Indeed, Birdshot won Best Asian Future Award! I'm a lucky guy to be their friend. Filipinos really rock! Everyone should watch this film whenever you have a chance!

Birdshot producer Pamela Reyes and actress Mary Joy Apostol

Birdshot producer Pamela Reyes and actress Mary Joy Apostol

On Nov 2, I saw Diamond Island directed by Davy Chou. This is another great film I saw at TIFF. Someone said this film resembled the current Cambodia at Q&A, but I would like to ask who knows about the current Cambodia in Japan. Most of us don't know anything about Cambodia, so I don't think it is good to imagine about whole Cambodia just watching this film. I think this film should be a door to have more interest in Cambodia. This film is entertaining and should be screened in Japan.

Akiyo Fujimura, Davy Chou, Khmeng Peal Komsoth, and me

Akiyo Fujimura, Davy Chou, Khmeng Peal Komsoth, and me

On Nov 3, I went to Shin Okubo Film Festival to meet Jang Kunjae. His film, A mid summer's Fantasia was screened there. I love this film, and Jang Kunaje is a very nice guy.

Jang Kunjae...

Jang Kunjae...

On Nov 4, I went to Yokohama to discuss about music right of a documentary film about Pepe Smith and his legendary band called Speed, Glue & Shinki I'm making with Bradley Liew. Then finally, I came back to Osaka.

After coming back to Osaka, I went to see the assistant director of Anatano Uchuwa Daijobu Desuka? to the hospital. Miraculously, he is getting better, and I really hope he will come back on a set soon!

Taro Imai, harakiri films

Japan Korea Co-Production

On October 5, we started shooting Japan Korea co-production independent film called Under the Same Sky in Osaka. This is a story of a Korean guy who comes to Osaka and follows his dream of becoming a musician.

The director is Korean, the main actor is Korean, and the camera crew is Korean, but all other actors and staffs are Japanese. Most of the scenes will be shot in Osaka, and most of the dialogues are in Japanese. 

This is real Japan Korea collaboration. We are somehow communicating each other in Japanese and Korean.

Haruna Hori and Gang-Du

Haruna Hori and Gang-Du

 Last month, my friend Jang Kunjae who has directed a film in Nara asked me to help his friend Baek Jaeho as he was going to direct a film in Osaka. Then I'm working with Koreans now.

The main actor is Gang-Du who is a former member of rock band The Jadu. Ji Dae-Han from Old Boy acts an important role too.

From Japan, Haruna Hori plays a zoo worker, and Nagiko Tsuji plays a factory worker.

 

 

Korean and Japanese film crew working together. 

Korean and Japanese film crew working together. 

The story is about friendship of Korean and Japanese musicians, but the film production process itself is friendship between Korean and Japanese filmmakers. 

We are hoping this film to be screened at Osaka Asian Film Festival and at Busan International Film Festival next year. We are shooting the film until Oct 28, so please let me know if you are interested in this film. 

We are going to hold live music events with the film cast together with the film screening too. Then we will produce another film with the same concept of Korea Japan friendship next year. 

We are gonna start crowdfunding soon too, so keep updated! 

 

harakiri films

Taro Imai

Helping the art department is tough and fun.

I went to help the art department of Naomi Kawase's new film the other day in Nara.

Setsuko Shiokawa who was the art director of my film, Eriko, Pretended is now working for Kawase. That's why I had a chance to work for Kawase's film a little bit.

We went to decorate 3 apartments in Nara where main characters live and 1 apartment in Osaka where the main character works. All the apartments were empty, so we went to recycle shops and furniture shops to rent or buy the furnitures.

That was a tough work, but I'm excited to see what we prepared in the film.

The interesting thing is; she let the actors live in the apartments for a week before the shooting starts. I'm not sure what her real intention is, but this method is very interesting. It is also interesting that big movie stars start living in normal apartments suddenly. It is like Tom Cruise moving into your next door.

Especially, one of the apartments is very old and dirty, and one of the most popular actors in Japan will live there for a week...

 

Taro Imai, harakiri films

Jishu Eiga

All of the films I made so far are jishu eiga or jishu-seisaku eiga which literally means self-made films. Internationally, there are terms like independent films, underground films, low budget films, micro budget films, no budget films, etc., but jishu eiga is close to no budget films or student films made by non-students.

I hear jishu eiga only exists in Japan. Is that true? The budget of jishu eiga is normally less than USD 50,000 and is self-financed most of the time by directors. Most of the directors spend their own savings, borrow money from their parents, or raise money from crowdfunding.

I produced feature film Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero at USD 30,000 and feature film Eriko, Pretended at USD 50,000. Those were possible because we had friends who wanted to make films together under the difficult situations.

I'm not sure if this is true, but I hear that no one makes films under USD 100,000 in the United States or in Europe. However, many of the independent films are produced under USD 100,000 in Japan. Many filmmakers complain that the budget is too small in Japan, but there are many Japanese filmmakers who want to make films even though the budget is very small.

Many Japanese filmmakers say that the budget in the United States or Europe is much bigger, but only lucky filmmakers can reach such big budget in those countries anyway.

We are in a difficult situation for not getting enough budget, but I want to take it positive as we can make films at low budget to start out. Of course, we should move on to the next level soon though.

I'm studying about low budget film financing now aggressively in order to make Osaka filmmaking scene hotter. Let me know if any of you guys have good ideas about micro budget film financing.

Taro Imai, harakiri films

Starting a blog

I'm Taro Imai, a micro budget independent film producer from Osaka, Japan.

This is my first blog posting in my life, and I'm going to blog about how far I can go as a micro budget independent film producer from Osaka. Let me start from introducing who I am.

I was born in 1979 and grew up in Kobe. Dragon Ball and video games such as Super Mario, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy were big among kids in 80's and 90's, but I was away from the scene as my parents prohibited watching TV and playing video games.

I started to watch many movies in VHS when I was 13 as my parents allowed me to watch video somehow. I remember that Hollywood action stars such as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis were very popular at that time.

When I was 14, I visited a town in Washington State which looked like a town in Western movies and stayed at the local family's home for a week. That experience influenced me a lot as I decided to go back to the States in the future.

Two life changing events happened when I was 15. I watched Pulp Fiction at a theatre and had a different feeling from watching other films after watching it although I didn't understand well at that time. That was the first time I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker in the future. Before watching Pulp Fiction, I was just enjoying the movies without thinking much. After watching Pulp Fiction, I started to think more about films. A massive earthquake attacked Kobe killing more than 6,000 people a few months after that.

After graduating from high school, I went to LA and studied film production at Los Angeles City College. I made some short films in Super 8 and worked as a boom operator for some independent films such as A Ribbon of Dreams directed by Philip W. Chung and Uneatable Harold directed by Ari Palitz. Since my parents were not rich, I worked very hard as a sushi chef too in order to pay for the tuition and rent.

I came back to Kobe when I was 25 and started to work for a car company Daihatsu Motor as an exporter of the car parts all over the world as I couldn't find any job in film industry. Actually, there was an offer from Toei Studio in Kyoto to work as a production assistant, but I turned down the offer as I couldn't pay for my debt with their small salary. That was my biggest mistake in my life, and I still regret that I didn't take that offer.

I started to work for Mitsubishi Corporation as a yarn trader when I was 28. Then I started to think what I'm doing and started to go to a screenwriting class in Osaka around that time. I made some short films such as Not Boiled Enough directed by myself and Smell, But I Love You directed by Kazuo Nagai with the classmates and left the company last year to concentrate on filmmaking.

I produced feature film Yamamoto Eri becomes Recoverability Zero directed by Yuki Kuwazuru in 2015 and won the second prize at the New Directors Film Festival 2015. Then I produced feature film Eriko, Pretended directed by Akiyo Fujimura in 2016.  It was premiered at Osaka Asian Film Festival 2016 and won SKIP City Award at SKIP City International D-Cinema Festival 2016.

I hope you understand a little about who I am. I'm gonna organize this bio and put somewhere in the homepage.