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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys at Lusher Charter School

Tokyo Cowboys had its New Orleans premiere yesterday at Lusher Charter School Uptown. Head of Media Studies and fellow Loyola Alumnus, Christopher Jeansonne invited me to speak about Elektrik Zoo's debut feature documentary, working as an independent filmmaker and how I got from Big Branch to Tokyo to London and back home again.

I was quite impressed with the students. They were engaged and informed, aware of the world around them, not afraid to formulate their own opinions and not afraid to call each other on faulty logic. I was also impressed with Christopher's curriculum. This term he is screening Ozu, Kurosawa, Kitano, Lynch, and Wenders among others. I was quite proud to have TC screen along side films by these great filmmakers.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys does Naperville

This from the Elektrik Zoo Blog:

Tokyo Cowboys will screen at the Naperville Independent Film Festival in Naperville, Illinois in September. In addition, Elektrik Zoo's debut documentary feature about the trials and tribulations of life on the post-modern urban frontier has been nominated for best documentary feature.

Read the rest on the Elektrik Zoo Blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Death by Overwork

The Mainichi Shinbun reports today on a 32 year-old man who has died from Karoshi, or overwork. Granted, I read a few of the Japan blogs, but this is the second Karoshi incident I've read about today.

We mention Karoshi in "Tokyo Cowboys" the Salaryman sacrifices everything for the sacrifice can take years of training and can sometimes result in death by overwork. Some people think this line is funny, but it's not meant to be. The kids train from a very early age. I've worked in the schools. Freezing, no coats, study, study....then sports and after school activities...then juku (cram school)...then studying until late at night. I have never seen kids so exhausted.

I have seen them...the Salarymen and women falling asleep standing up on the trains. I have worked in their offices. I couldn't do it. I would leave every day at 5 p.m. with an "o-saki ni..." (I'm going before you...I'm committing a great rudeness). I felt ashamed abandoning them. But I was not a modern day samurai.

There is always a bit of an outcry for something to be done. But this kind of work-yourself-to-death ethic is almost a part of the cultural heritage of the Japanese who, during Samurai days, would rather gut themselves than lose face.

Why didn't the young man just quit? Why didn't he just say: "Take this job and shove it!"

It's just not done.

There is another bit in Cowboys where our mysterious J-lady commentator says that the Japanese don't like to say "no" because it is rude. But asking too much can be a burden. So the responsibility lies on the person who asks and not the one who answers (as is typical in Western culture).

There is some kind of Catch-22 thing going on here, but I can't work it out in my head.

Thanks to TokyoMango for the heads up. Also pinched the .gif and following quote from them: "The image shows a placard that reads: Death from overwork. Be careful not to work too much."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview on Directors Notes

Yay! This from the Elektrik Zoo Blog:

Elektrik Zoo co-founder Daneeta Loretta Saft was interviewed on Directors Notes last week (link here). She discusses the joys of independent filmmaking, her career as a writer and her feature documentary "Tokyo Cowboys," which she co-directed and co-produced with Elektrik Zoo partner Patrick Jackson.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys Does Atlanta

Yay! This from the Elektrik Zoo Blog:

The Elektrik Zoo's debut feature documentary "Tokyo Cowboys" will screen at the 5th Annual Atlanta Underground Film Festival on Thursday, August 21st at 7 p.m. "We are quite excited to screen alongside 'Wiener Takes All' and '1000 Journals,' some of the best storytelling documentaries of this year," said director Daneeta Loretta Saft.

For more information about the film, please visit the Tokyo Cowboys website.

Anita Green

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys European Premiere

Yay! This from the Elektrik Zoo blog:

The Elektrik Zoo's debut feature documentary "Tokyo Cowboys" will have it's European premiere at the Ischia Film Festival in Italy. The festival celebrates the use of location as a character in the film.

Co-director Daneeta Loretta Saft said "We always had the notion that Tokyo was the 5th character in the film. The film is called Tokyo Cowboys after all. So, when Ischia contacted us about screening the film, we were delighted. It means that we have succeeded in that respect."

The festival will take place from the 22nd to the 29th of June. The filmmakers are currently seeking sponsorship to attend. For more information, contact info "at" tokyocowboys "dot" com.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys at STIFF

Yay! This from the Elektrik Zoo Website.

Feature documentary "Tokyo Cowboys" directed and produced by The Elektrik Zoo's Patrick Jackson and Daneeta Loretta Saft will screen at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival in June.

"Screening at STIFF is a special treat for us," said Daneeta Saft. "We hope to pack out the cinema and get this puppy sold."

Saft and Jackson are in the process of selling the film and setting up their next project, "Down in the Parish" (working title).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys in the Telegraph

Tokyo Cowboys has been ever so briefly mentioned in the Daily Telegraph. Yay! Our first mainstream press.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Online is a Place in Hell

Spent days and days onlining the film only to discover after exporting to digi that there are two mistakes in the subtitles. They are very minor mistakes, but Patrick's brain sings out "I didn't work on this effing film for 6 years to let slide 2 minor mistakes."

This is the project that never ends. This is the project that eats all of our money. This is the project that threatens to break both of us in two.

Is it worth it?

If you believe that this world is just an illusion, then no. Nothing is really worth it. If you believe that our sole/soul purpose in this world is to create, then maybe. It's hard for me to tell because I am so sick of it all at the moment that I just want to vomit.

Actually, I just want to go home. But it's always a question of money...should I throw all of the money I have into the bottomless pit that has become "Tokyo Cowboys," or should I spend it on something as frivolous as going home to visit my family whom I haven't seen in a year and a half.

Tough choice.

This is not bitching. This is honesty for all of you bright-eyed and bushy tailed people out there who are thinking about getting into filmmaking. This is the reality. And, sometimes it sucks. I hope to bring you good news next time so that you know it doesn't always suck.

P.S. I just had a falafel, and I feel a little better.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Graphic Tedium

I have just spent the past 4 hours exporting all of the graphics of the film, one of which you see on your left converted to a jpg so it looks crappy. It was a nightmare, and I hope I never have to do it again but instead can hire someone to do it for me.


I'm going mad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Little Rock Film Festival

Just got confirmation that we are in competition at the Little Rock Film Festival, which takes place in May. We've got two really good slots: Saturday May 17th at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday May 18th at 1:00 p.m. You can see our festival page here. I should remind all you NOLA buddies that Little Rock is just a day's drive from New Orleans. How about it? Shall we have ourselves a convoy?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Tokyo Cowboys Premiere

This morning of the premiere, I got up too early and started drinking way too much coffee, which lead to a full-fledged panic attack. Cassie's flatmate Brendan talked me back from the ledge. The film screened at 2:40 p.m. so spent the day pacing and practicing my speech.

This is me doing last minute changes on my speech:

The rental car place had a drop off service, so it was like getting chauffeured to the premiere. The screening was held at the Imaginasian Center in downtown L.A., which is very nice. I hung out in the lobby with the J-crew eating their onigiri and drinking their tea until Kevin and Dave arrived. I was afraid they were going to be the only ones to show up, but pretty soon people started to arrive, and we went into the cinema.

This is Kevin and Dave and Me after the screening:

The cinema was really nice. Good comfy seats with lots of leg room, nice speakers and a nice sized screen. There were about 20 people there, which I thought was pretty good for a Monday afternoon at 2:40 p.m.

I got up and gave my speech, which went really well mostly because I couldn't see a damn thing with the spot light in my eyes. On the way back to my seat, I was approached by another festival programmer, and we swapped cards.

I stayed for the whole film. Thank god we did the sound mix (which wasn't in time for this screening) because the sound is ropey. Something we hadn't noticed on the home speakers or even on the LFS speakers. But you really notice it on a good set of speakers like at the Imaginasian Center.

People laughed right the way through. Some people came up afterwards and said they really enjoyed it and that they really could relate to the characters...that they felt like they were sharing a part of their lives through the film. I was sad that Patrick wasn't there for the first public screening.

Kevin and Dave drove me back to Cassie's place, and I crashed a bit. Too much excitement for one day.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Last night I went to the Japan Film Festival Gayla at the Japan American Museum in downtown L.A. Not having Patrick with me, Cassie went as my date. We got all dolled up, and I obsessed about my speech, which, according to Takahashi-san was supposed to go on for 5 minutes.

You never know what to expect at J-events. There was pizza and sushi and oolong-cha. At first we thought there was no beer, but we found that too, and I started drinking right away.

The festivities started with a J-girl duo:

But it was weird. No one was listening. They just kept on eating and chatting. Then the programmer got up, and the same thing. Then I got up to do my speech and realized that I shouldn't have stressed so much about it because no one was listening. No one cared. L.A. is a weird town. The filmmaker does not rule.

After, went for sushi in Little Tokyo. I don't think we picked a good place, though. What we thought were J-people sitting at the sushi bar turned out not to be. Cassie says there's better sushi in Silverlake. Still, it was fun to hang out with Cassie and get dressed up.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Here in L.A.

After the longest day ever (time expands when you travel from London to L.A.), I have arrived. Met Cassie and her canine companion Gordon at Union Station last night. Will be attending the opening Gala tonight. Takahashi-san has asked that I give a speech, but my brain is mush from the jet lag. Haven't heard from P.J. yet, so if you're reading this from London, can you call him and tell him to call his girlfriend, already. The picture is from Cassie's side garden. She has a back garden as well. It's so warm that I can sit out here in a spaghetti strap dress and nothing else. I love southern California.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

California Dreamin': The Japan Film Festival

Oh my gosh, I am seriously about to pee myself. Thanks to the support of some very fine people at the London Film School, I have just booked the tickets to L.A. to attend the Tokyo Cowboys world premiere at the Japan Film Festival. You can't imagine the amount of financial footwork that was involved, but, whatever...

Do I call this the world premiere? The film isn't technically finished yet. What we're screening at the JFF doesn't have the final sound mix or the grade.

A moment of silence for Patrick who is not going. He has graciously stepped aside to send me to represent the film.

I will be staying with good friend and fellow LFS alumni Cassie Destino whom I met at the film school. Looking forward to meeting her dog. Looking forward to being in the California sunshine, and looking forward to seeing some very old friends that I have not seen in ages.

Friday, April 04, 2008

New York-Tokyo Press

"Tokyo Cowboys" has just been mentioned on the New York-Tokyo website. Awesome!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dubbing Theatre Footage

Here's a little clip I shot in the dubbing theater today on my mobile phone of Alexej doing his stuff.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys in the Dubbing Theatre

I thought yesterday was going to be more of the same shit...filling in forms, sending out stuff to festivals, trying to sort out the last clearances hell. Sometimes I feel like Tokyo Cowboys' bitch. But, at 10:30 a.m., I got a call from Alexeij, our illustrious sound mixer. He'd done the first pass on the film, and could we come in at noon to have a listen. Yes, yes, yes.

Sitting in the dubbing theatre, I began to feel like a real filmmaker again. These past few months I started to believe that filmmaking was just an expensive hobby for us. It was really getting me down. But, then, there was the Japan Film Festival, and that got me on the way to believing in us again. But, being in the dubbing theatre, and listening to the film, and giving direction to Alexeij...that brought it home for me.

Do you have to make your entire living as a filmmaker to be one? Patrick is in this are a filmmaker when you earn a living as a filmmaker. I'm more of the namby-pamby "you are a filmmaker when you feel like you are...when you believe you are."


Oh, P.S. Here are my notes for the sound:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kick Ass Disc Design

This is what we've been working so hard on these past few days. We wanted to have a more consistent branding strategy for Tokyo Cowboys. So, this design is on the DVD, the Website and the Blog.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Japundit Press

Carlos over at the Japan Film Festival got us a nice bit of press by getting us mentioned on the Japundit Blog. Japundit has a large readership of people who are the main audience for a film like ours. Way to go Carlos! Thanks!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys World Premiere in Los Angeles

Hello friends of Tokyo Cowboys!

This is more than just a update as we are announcing big news:

Tokyo Cowboys World Premiere

Tokyo Cowboys will have its world premiere at the Japan Film Festival in Los Angeles on April 14th. We will be screening alongside two of our Japanese filmmaking heroes: Akira Kurosawa and Hirokazu Koreeda ("Afterlife" and "Nobody Knows"). "Tokyo Cowboys" is the only film in the festival directed by a non-Asian and the only film in the festival to deal with the subject of gaijin (outsider) experience in Japan. Visit the website here:

Tell your Friends

Getting a premiere is all well and good. But we need your help to pack out the cinema. You can do this by forwarding the blurb (copied at the end of this email) to your mates in California and by encouraging them to go and see the film.

Tell the Press

If you know any newspaper people, blog people or people with muscle or celebrity, send them the press release attached to this email. Raising the profile of the film helps it to get into festivals and gets it distributed, which means YOU can watch it in cinemas and on DVD.

Watch the New Teaser

We've updated the website with a new teaser. Visit the site and have a look:

Steal our Teaser

If you have a blog, embed our teaser into a post. You can find the embedding code here:

That's it for now, folks. Hope to see you soon in a city near you!


Daneeta and Patrick

The Blurb

Thought you guys might be interested in this bit of news. Some friends of mine have just finished their feature documentary "Tokyo Cowboys." The film is having its world premiere in your neck of the woods at the Japan Film Festival. Check out their website at

The festival website is here: Help them out by spreading the news.

Here's their blurb:

Tokyo Cowboys: a new feature length documentary tells the stories of a group of westerners who gave up their jobs, homes and countries to pursue their dreams in the cut throat world of Tokyo.The film's delicate and humorous portrait illuminates the price some pay for a taste of Tokyo's success. Shot over a two year period, the film follows the trial and errors of its heroes' quest for opportunity on this post-modern urban frontier.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Teaser

Press the play button below to view the new Tokyo Cowboys Teaser. Hope you like it. Also, give us a shout in comments to let us know you're out there.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

TC Investors Invest Time Too

Met up with two of the Tokyo Cowboys investors for coffee to update them on the project. These guys aren't film people like some of our other investors, but they loved the project so much that they put down some of their hard earned cash to support us.

Now, they are asking what they can do to help us to sell the project. These are the kinds of investors that indy filmmakers need.

They are both sending out word to their networks about the film, and Shani, who works for a big University, is trying to organize a special sneak preview screening through their film society. Cool.

Gareth is coming over on Monday to have a look at our track laying to get everything organized for the Dub. We've finished the credits, yeah, so that's the film basically done for the festivals. Whew!

Photo from Ordinary Investing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"I think that's his penis" and other Subtitling tales

Aoi came by last night to give us her final advice on subtitling. I've mentioned before that Aoi is a professional Subtitle Artist who came to me via a FEW contact, Christina. You gotta love the Japan network.

Subtitling is a complicated mathematical business as well as one of rhythm. You have to find the most concise way of saying things and also not leave the screen empty while the character natters on in his native language.

We joked about translating the Japanese into English. There are a lot of "verbal pauses" in Japanese similar to our "ums" and "ahs." And when Japanese people are speaking on screen, they tend to use the most polite form of the language, which can take about twice as long as the more base form (literally). Joking aside, Aoi is a true professional. We sorted it all out quickly and then spent the rest of the night drinking tea and chatting about Japanese cinema. As she does a lot of the subtitling of Japanese films entering the British market, she knows her stuff. Two films that she suggested we all see are: "Uchouten Hoteru" and "Kamome Shokudo" or "Seagul Diner. Happy hunting.

Oh, the "penis" reference in the title of this entry is one of the subtitles in Tokyo Cowboys. I guess you'll have to watch the film to find out more. And, get your minds out of the gutter, it's not what you think.

Picture from Here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys Screening Feedback

Two weeks ago we did a screening on the little big screen for three people. One of these was fellow filmmaker Tony Ukpo. Tony's just got back to me with feedback, and I thought I'd share it with you guys.

From what you'd told me and from reading the blog and all, I had a certain idea of what the film might be like. Any film about Japan is something I would always be happy to see, but it was so much more than that. And, in fact, it sort of gave me the feeling (one that is quite prevalent in the film): the draw that Tokyo has. Watching it I kept thinking: "now i really want to go live in Japan...even if just for a few years" (something I have contemplated in the past and again recently before I saw the film, funnily enough).

I thought it was not invasive as some personal documentaries seem to be, and even the history between you and...Mark is it? didn't seem to be overly dramatic or calling for sympathy; it just helped to encapsulate the feeling that the country, or the city rather, is all consuming in all possible ways.

I think your mini pitch of "lost in translation for real" is even more clear after watching the film because it does showcase all those things foreigners associate with Japan and the Japanese experience, as well as the Japanese reaction to foreigners. But, at the same time, it felt so open. Even though, of course, the Japanese are indeed quite an exclusive bunch to some degree, you really get that sense of openness to one and all, which is kind of a parallel to what America used to offer or aspire to offer: a country that accepts all. In contrast, however, the Japanese don't try to change the foreigners. They just let them be. Yet there is this great movement by some foreigners to try to fit in, and, conversely, succeeding because of their difference. I really felt that watching the film.

I liked the kind of disconnected voice over that was a lot more poetic and speaking about things in a different context from the stories we were following. The passage of time works really well and fluidly. And it all looks really good too! So go Patrick!

I'm kind of rambling a bit and possibly repeating myself, but the summary of it all is that I really like the film and I really feel it's going to work well for you once it gets out, so congrats in advance for all the rewards you should be receiving in the near future. I always respect people who really try to do things without waiting for the perfect conditions and make films from the heart and not just following some formula or audience numbers, and I hope to see more of that in the coming years.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Subtitles are Next

Screened the film to Aoi and Bruce tonight. Aoi is a Japanese lady who is living over here in the U.K. And, her job is...well doing subtitles.

Firstly, they really liked the film. And, they got all of the little subtleties and nuances. Aoi reckons that it will play well to Japanese audiences who have lived abroad or who are interested in foreign cultures. Bruce reckons it will play well to anyone who has lived abroad. There are some universal truths that will hit home for expatriates.

Secondly, Aoi says that the subtitles are fine for the most part. She says there are rules that need to be followed like only feeding people 15 characters per second and not having more than 37 characters on a line, so some work needs to be done here. She has kindly offered to help us out with this, so we're moving forward on this front as well.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sound Mixer on Board

Finally, finally, finally. We have finally managed to get a sound mixer on board. Jaime hooked us up with a company that LFS uses who, in turn, introduced us to one of the sound mixers.

Getting a mix for Tokyo Cowboys could cost in excess of £3000. Our sound mixer mate who gave TC a listen a few weeks back says there are no serious issues with the sound. It's just that the film is 75 minutes long, which translates into hours of work, which translates into money by the hour. I was disheartened by the reality of paying this big chunk of change, but we must soldier on.

So, I dropped the TC disc off with Jaime's contact hoping he could help us out in some way.

He likes it.

He likes it so much that he's willing to do the mix during his down time for a fraction of what it would otherwise cost.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This is why it takes so long for you musicians to get your royalty checks:

I can't tell you how fed up I am over EFFING clearances. I am cursing and kicking things and I can feel that tightness inside of my chest. Frustration is banging around in my brain, and the deep breathing is not effing helping.

Here's just one example:
  • Mid November: I make an application to MCPS for the rights to "Tevye's Dream" (in one of the scenes Kanya is at play practice for a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" with the Tokyo International Players).

  • Two days later: I get a message back from MCPS. "Boy, they are quick," I think. "This is gonna be a snap!" They say I need to contact THE RECORD COMPANY directly. They kindly give me the number.
  • The next day: I call THE RECORD COMPANY. They give me the name of THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS, however, THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS is on holiday for a week. "Can I have her email?" "Yes." So I email her and wait.
  • Seven days later: The email bounces back with a bunch of computer speak and this human speak: "Despite repeated attempts, this message could not be delivered."

  • The next day: I call to check that the email I've taken down is correct. It is. I ask to speak with THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS as, by this point, she is back from holiday (I hope she went somewhere sunny). I explain myself to her. She says to put everything I have just explained in an email, which I do and send to her again.

  • Seven days later: The email bounces back with much the same message as above. I call, but by this time, everyone is on their Christmas break.

  • Early January: I call THE RECORD COMPANY again. THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS is out of the office sick. I'm begging the receptionist to help me. She gives me the contact number of THE SECOND IN COMMAND to THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS. She is even kind enough to transfer me to him. Alas, he's not at his desk, so I leave a voice mail.

  • Throughout the Month of January: I call, leaving several messages for THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS and THE SECOND IN COMMAND to THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS. No one calls me back. I have noticed (through Facebook's friend finder) that THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS is on Facebook, and I entertain the thought of contacting her via the network. But, this somehow seems like an invasion of privacy, and I talk myself out of it.

  • February: Frustrated, I go onto THE RECORD COMPANY's website and use their contact form to make my inquiry. The next day, I get an email from THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CLEARING RIGHTS saying that THE RECORD COMPANY does not own the rights to this song. She doesn't know what I'm on about. I ring her just to make sure. "Nope, we don't own it. I've just checked the database. It's not there." I want to scream down the phone at her. Why couldn't she have checked the effing database when I called back in December if it was that easy to do? Time doesn't grow on effing trees, you know.

  • One week ago: I write MCPS again explaining all of the above. They have not written me back.

  • Today: I use the email form on the MCPS website to explain above. Heck, if it worked for THE RECORD COMPANY, maybe it will work for MCPS.
I mean, I have tried...I have really tried to do this properly. But, what else can I do? Jerry Bock wrote the music and Sheldon Harnick wrote the lyrics for "Fiddler on the Roof." If any of you know either one of these fellas, please email me and put me out of my misery.

And here's my lesson: it's really time to work with a production company because this SUCKS and I SUCK AT IT.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys on the Big Screen

Well almost...I screened Tokyo Cowboys for a whopping big audience of 3 on the little big screen of Cinema B at the London Film School. Attending were Diane Morris (one of our investors and all around Asia Pacific expert), Margaret Glover (my writing mentor) and Tony Upko (filmmaker and publisher of "This is a Magazine").

It was absolutely thrilling to see the film on "the big screen." I was putting this off as I was afraid that, having shot in video, the picture quality would degrade. Well, it didn't. And the response from our little audience was outstanding. So, yeah!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys Press

in "This is a Magazine"

"Tokyo Cowboys encapsulates the wonder that the city holds. The desires it creates, and the stories that evolve from it."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Japanese Sleeping

There is a whole photo gallery dedicated to Japanese people sleeping in public. I don't see what the big deal is. These people work really hard. They should be allowed to sleep on the train, at the bus stop or in the middle of Shibuya Crossing. As long as they're not a danger to themselves or others...

We have only one shot of a sleeping beauty in the final cut of Tokyo Cowboys, although we shot so many.

You can tell by her uniform that she is an elementary school student. Clutching her school bag, she is conked out on the Yamanote Line in the middle of the day. It must have been the volley ball. Or the Kanji workout. English lesson or Juku.

It's not just being tired, though. Some of the cars on that line are still old. No one speaks, and the gently rocking of the train and hypnotic metallic noises make you feel like you are in the belly of the great warm mother machine.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mixin' it up

Met with a sound mixer today. We had lunch at The Breakfast Club in Soho. Apart from the fact that Hippies must exit at the rear (no exceptions), the food was pretty good. Got in 2 servings of fruit and veg, so that was also good.

She gave me some good advice, the sound mixer, that is. And she said she'd have a look and a listen to the film.

Simon sent the final music over this weekend, and PJ cut it in. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but PJ says it's finished.

Typed in some credits. This is going to take steady and continuous work for about a week.

Entered contacts into the database.

Packaged and mailed off some festival submissions.

Emailed Ken and Kerry Kennedy about clearances.

Spoke to Dave about the title graphics and about creating an ident for The Elektrik Zoo. We have to send him over a QT of the opening sequence.

This evening, worked a little on the script.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sales Agents, Distributors and Exhibitors...oh my!

Did the second part of the Sales, Marketing and Distribution course with Mia Bays. Good stuff all around. She brought in the Managing Diretor and Sales Agent Andrew Orr from Independent Film Company, distributor Soda Pictures' Ed Fletcher and Jason Woods from Picturehouse - one of the UK's leading cinema bookers.

I was quick with the meishi and the 30 second pitch. Ed Fletcher gave me the best advice about the pitch, which was that when you are pitching to distributors, they are most interested to know the selling points of your film to specific territories.

This is what I've come up with so far: I think that there is definitely an audience in Japan amongst the nearly one million foreigners living in Tokyo alone and amongst the Japanese themselves as we've got two big stars who appear regularly on Japanese TV and in videos (Patrick Harlan's career has skyrocketed since filming). And, of course, there is America. I think the fascination with all things Japan is there and there is a sort of "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" appeal.

As for the UK, I was thinking of the "look what those crazy Americans are doing over in Japan" appeal might be there. That having been said, the film does not focus on the sensational aspects of Japan as so many films about the area do. It's about normal guys finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Our main character, Jewish boy from New York Ken, for example, finds himself performing Christian weddings in order to make a buck while he tries to kick start his career on Japanese TV.

There was a bit of a nuisance with the website going down and email crashing. This right after the workshop, so, of course, I was obsessing about how one of the workshop people might try to hit the site, and how it would be down, and how they would think I was a total looser, but I got over that.

Emailed all of the festivals we submitted to and informed them of the changes.

I'm boring myself to tears now.

Photo is a self portrait of Kimiko Yoshida.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hello Kitty ii ka na?

Spent the day at the Mia Bays Sales, Marketing & Distribution Workshop put on by my mate Saskia at the London Film School (the old alma mater). Highlights were:

Meeting and swapping cards with the Head of Programming for the London Film Festival, Michael Hayden. Did the 30 second pitch: "Tokyo Cowboys is permanent lost in translation...for real: an intimate look into the lives of 5 western men living long term in the wild, wild East."

Learning that you can ask smaller festivals for something called a "screening fee," which is essentially a box office percentage. According to Mia, not all festivals have a screening fee policy, but a lot of the smaller ones do.

And...learning that "The Lives of Others" was rejected by all major festivals, yet it was in the top ten grossing films of 9 of the top 10 territories. (This is to make me feel better in the event of a worst case scenario.)

Another session tomorrow with a Sales Agent, top Booker in the U.K., and a distributor. Must print out some more TC meishi.

Photo thanks to Tokyo Mango.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Breathing New Life

Spent several hours yesterday with Jaime Estrada-Torres, who gave us amazingly thorough advice on how to professionally polish Tokyo Cowboys. He went through the film scene by scene and pointed out specific action items. Patrick reckons that he can finish the whole edit by next week.

We also laid all of Simon's music over the film, and it is just brilliant. Spoke to him on the phone, and we'll take the new edit round to his studio after the edit is done for polishing.

Spent several hours this evening researching distribution models. Of particular interest was Peter Broderick's Distribution Bulletins, specifically his one on using Radiohead's online model. Got a bit freaked out by Film Specific's Podcast about how to position your film for distribution in 2008. Deliverables? "You're gonna have to spend a bit of money?" Help!

The photo above is by Altus. He's using some cool technology to manga-fy his stills.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys New Year Update (in case you didn't get the email)

Dear All,

Patrick and I would like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year. It's been a while since we sent out an update, and there's a good reason. Patrick and I have been busy FINISHING the film. Well...almost.

What's the Score

Our composer, Simon Rogers, has been working hard to give us an incredibly beautiful score. It's been a pleasure and a great journey working with Simon who brings years of experience and loads of talent to the project. Patrick and I have both learned so much from him. Simon studied at the prestigious Royal College of Music and has been a success as both a Musician and Producer. You can see his CV and visit his profile on Wikipedia.


What a palaver. This is where filmmaking gets really boring. We've got to clear every song sung in karaoke, every musical performance and every one of the TV shows we filmed. It adds up to about 30 individual clearances. We've been lucky, though. Three of the big songs will only be about £300 each to clear for festivals. The folks at Universal and Carlin Music have been very helpful, and we are making progress.

Other Bits

The remaining work on Tokyo Cowboys includes finishing the credits, grading and the sound mix. A mate is letting us use his online suite for the grade, so we have been very fortunate. The credits are going to be as long as the film, and the sound mix will be hairy. We've been listening on the mini speakers on our editing suite, but, when Patrick screened the film on Graham's home cinema system, he could hear every little finger tap on the camera. Loads to do here, but we've got some good leads on affordable sound mixers.


So far, we've been sending off the Work-in-Progress to festivals. It is crucial to the success of the film to get a good run as festivals are where we can flog the film in various territories. This month is when we start to hear back, so please send us good vibrations. Also, a successful festival run often times depends on who you know. So, if any of you good folks out there have any connections to festivals for which Tokyo Cowboys qualifies, please do get in touch (Tokyo Cowboys is classified as a feature-length independent Documentary).

New Technologies

I have been following various blogs about emerging technologies in online film distribution. Online, we can find and exploit (in the best possible sense) audiences that may not be able to access Tokyo Cowboys elsewhere. I know there are some techies and marketing geniuses out there, and I would like to open a dialog about how we can get Tokyo Cowboys to the online market. Please email me if you'd like to participate.

That's it from TC headquarters. Patrick and I would like to thank all of you for your continuing support. We are almost there!



Sunday, January 06, 2008

Festivals Again...

Spent all day yesterday on festivals. The process is searching out the festivals that TC qualifies for, filling out all the paper work, packaging up everything and posting. Doing one festival can take upwards of 2 hours. Insanity. It's also quite expensive, but it's our career and at least it's tax deductible. This is the most boring bit about filmmaking, and, if we weren't independent, we would have some little worker bee doing this for us. Another reason to align yourself with a production company. Oh, how much we have learned on this project.

Thanks to for the image.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Spent all day working on clearances. A bit of good news in that some of the major tracks will only cost about £300 to clear. We lucked out with "Just a Girl," "Wherever you will go," and "Linus and Lucy" in that we only need the publishing rights. Because characters are singing, and we are not using the recording (mechanical rights), the fee is much cheaper. Things get complicated with the karaoke tracks. Not only do we have to get the publishing rights, but we have to get those cleared through the karaoke company as well. Katsura is working hard on those. There are a couple of tracks owned by Victor Entertainment in Japan, so my Japanese skills will be tested to the limit when I do the calls on Tuesday. Then, there's all the Japanese TV stuff. All of this is tedious, but it will be so worth it in the end.