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The Geki x Cine (geki means stage play) projects bring Japanese musical stage productions from the Shinkansen theater troupe to the big screen using feature film-style camerawork, editing and sound mixing.
The latest production, Legacy of Soma-Aonoran, an all-singing and sword-fighting period piece starring stage and screen stars Yuki Amami and Kenichi Matsuyama, was mixed by Hollywood sound rerecording engineer Mike Prestwood Smith.
“The fact it was shot on a stage makes it very different to anything I’ve worked on before. Making a stage play into a film is very challenging. I think they were using up to 19 cameras at one point,” Prestwood Smith, who has worked on more than 100 movies and was Oscar-nominated for his work on Captain Philips, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“All the performances are live, whereas musical movies are usually dubbed; so everything’s a bit more raw and therefore challenging,” added Smith.
The end result is very different from the traditional filming of stage plays using a few static cameras.
“Watching on screen, you probably get a better comprehensive view than you do live. This is a completely new level of editing and craft,” he added.
The production is subtitled and a translator was on hand, but working in an unfamiliar language created challenges, and a few eye openers, according to Prestwood Smith.
“For a culture that is reserved and polite on the outside, some of the jokes were quite risque. I don’t consider myself a prude, but I was surprised, and entertained, by some of the content,” said Prestwood Smith.
Tokyo’s Village Inc. will be representing Legacy of Soma-Aonoran at AFM.
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