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