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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...

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

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.



The CM below for the rat trap was shot here.

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



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!


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

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?

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="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>




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!

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.