AFM: Japan's Geki x Cine Taking Stage-to-Screen Productions to the Next Level

'Legacy of Soma-Aonoran'

The films of live musical productions use nearly 20 moving cameras and Hollywood sound mixing to bring the energy of the stage to the big screen.

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.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

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