An Interview with Awamura Koji (Editor)
The “Good Ol’ Days” with Eibun
Q: What was your relationship with Eibun (Hidefumi)-san?
AK: In short, we were really good friends—though that didn’t mean we’d compromise in our work. As editor, I’ve worked on 90 percent of his programs.
He was one year older than me. At first he didn’t work in the production department (of RKB Mainichi Broadcasting Corporation in Fukuoka), and was gnashing his teeth in frustration then as he saw his elder colleagues winning prizes and doing what they liked. I guess he had a strong desire to do exactly what he wanted ever since.
Q: From your personal perspective, what was he like as a person?
AK: He was jealous, a showoff, and somewhat masochistic. And don’t you think he seems nervy? Most of all, I felt his solitude. He’s a lonely guy. And yet he hated being told what to do by others. I was the exception and he acknowledged my advice.
One time Pitch-Black was nominated for a prize and a section chief and a producer from RKB and I were drinking together waiting for the results to come in. We waited and waited, but Eibun never showed up. The following day, when I asked him what happened, he goes, “I went to a strip club by myself.” It was clear to him, who he could talk to and who he couldn’t.
Q: What would you say his directing style was?
AK: He was good at approaching from the peripheries and not directly to his main character. In I Can Hear Festival Music, where his protagonists are “tekiya” street hawkers, he first goes to befriend the wife of the boss in her kitchen, before going to seduce the boss himself. He had his methods to lure and hook his characters. He wrote tons of letters and was constantly on the phone.
Once anyone appeared in his program, he kept contact for life. Eibun loved old people, so as years went by, they would pass away. He used to say, it made him feel so lonely.
Each incoming president of our company just loved him, and not just his work. It must have been that charm in his character.
Q: Anything that stands out in your collaboration with him?
AK: The research before filmmaking. You could say he was among the top three in Japanese documentary who’d do thorough research. He spent 60 or 70 percent of his energy on research. At the beginning of a project he would discuss things with me, but once the project was go, he’d just blast away by himself. During that time, he hardly ever came to the office—that’s the kind of “salaryman” he was.
After shooting, he’d write the scenes and content on pieces of paper which he’d paste on the wall. We’d spend a lot of time debating and moving the notes around to prepare for the editing. This took longer than the actual editing itself.
He was very focused for the interviews. You could only shoot for so long on film at the time, so we had more sound footage than image. Eibun would edit and create sequences using only the dialogue. I had to deal with the lack of images and it was not easy. It was hardly a joke.
He once cut and even inverted a text that Morisaki Kazue had written. He’d say, she won’t mind because we are buddies! Ms. Morisaki would get mad, but then she’d laugh and say, “You shameless little Eibun, you!” They were really on good terms. I’m so lucky I was able to work with him during those great years.
(Compiled by Sato Hiroaki)
Interviewers: Sato Hiroaki, Iwai Nobuyuki / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Hirose Shiori / Video: Hanawa Shun / 2011-10-09