YIDFF 2013 Perspectives Japan
Sound Hunting
An Interview with Murakami Kenji (Director)

The Diversity of Cinema on 8mm Film

Q: When it comes to documentary films, many of them are about political and/or social issues. But this film depicts your daily life. In that sense it shares a common theme with your work from 10 years ago, How I Survive in Kawaguchi City. Why did you decide to make it a running theme?

MK: Since these are basically independent films, I film what I want to film. I have no intention of making anything magnificent. I don’t want to make a film with a know-it-all attitude. I believe that the technique of making documentaries is strongly manifested by the familiarity with the subject matter. When I make a film, I don’t want to stray far from my daily life. I want to start from there. For example, the field of grass that appears in this film is the same field that appears in How I Survive in Kawaguchi City, so my films really are closely related to my daily life.

Q: In this work, you have shots that include “light at night,” “women,” and “time.” How did you decide what to shoot?

MK: This time, I used filmstock that expired thirty years ago that I also developed by myself, so I knew it was possible that nothing would show up. Because of that, I chose to film things that produce sound, such as human beings and ocean waves. I didn’t have high expectations when I was shooting the night scenes. I just thought it would be interesting to see what would appear on the film. I kept the cameras rolling to catch the bright spots in the middle of the frame, those unique to film which you definitely cannot capture on video. However, as I assumed that nothing would show up, I was shocked to see particles and atom-type grains upon developing the film. The last scene was shot on a beach, because I figured that the sounds of the waves would be picked up. But, simply put, I have a personal attraction to beaches so I chose that scene for the ending.

Q: Why did you title your film, “Sound Hunting” and not “Sound Recording?”

MK: That was the influence of Mr. Onishi Kenji. When I shot his documentary, he said, “To film human beings is to hunt them.” When recording footage of people, I personally feel that it is exactly like what he said, due to the aggressive nature of shooting. Also regarding sound, I felt that “hunting” was a better fit than “recording,” so I decided on that title.

Q: In this work, we see some unusual grain-like images throughout the film. Why did you decide to shoot on 8mm film?

MK: Since the invention of film, filmmakers have made their best effort to show everything as clearly as possible. However, I believe that it is not the only important thing. Another important point about film is the fact that the film which is being screened was itself on location. For this work, both the film and I were actually on the streets of Shinjuku, on the beach and the field of grass. This has nothing to do with the image quality. I feel that it is meaningful to know the fact that the film itself was on location.

I also believe that diversity is important in my works, so I want to express myself using both film and digital media. As a person that currently works in the digital field, I had an immensely good time when I was working in this guerilla-style filmmaking process.

(Compiled by Yamazaki Shiori)

Interviewers: Yamazaki Shiori, Ukai Sakurako / Translator: Hayashi Kanako Connie
Photography: Yamane Hiroyuki / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2013-09-28 in Tokyo