An Interview with Onishi Kenji, Mabuchi Toru (Directors)
The Culture of 8mm Film
Q: What is the appeal of shooting on 8mm?
Mabuchi Toru (MT): It’s a free feeling. In reality, 8mm is a very restrictive medium. It doesn’t record sound and you cannot immediately see the images you shoot. I come from a background in photography, and the more I learn what has been expressed so far in that medium, the more I feel bound, since every idea has already been attempted. I knew almost nothing about the world of 8mm and cinema, and that lack of knowledge was a strength and comfort. Film has definite appeal. I have always shot photographs on film, and I enjoy not only simply taking images, but also touching what I have developed with my own hands.
Onishi Kenji (OK): I am aware of things like digital that are cheaper and more convenient, so I feel the inconvenience of 8mm and feel how it’s too expensive. But if you want to use it it’s not as if you can’t. At the very least these toys, treated like junk since they stopped production over 20 years ago, pick up light and burn it onto film. That’s all you need to make a film. 8mm allows you to infinitely depict what you want to depict. But this isn’t particular to 8mm film; digital cameras are just the same.
Q: Mr. Onishi, you operated a projector at the screening by yourself. Is that also part of film’s charm?
OK: I want you to watch Association of SilverPencils not to find something in each of its individual works, but step back and see this culture accepting a variety of filmmakers. This is an 8mm film about 8mm film. It extends to shooting, developing and projecting. I wanted to show you all of that process. When I thought about how to communicate this, I thought having audiences enjoy the entire space would be quicker than just showing images. I went ahead and placed a projector closer to the screen. The people who saw the screen over my back saw a projection performance more than a film. Also, there are projection troubles, when film heads get tangled in loading, and sometimes we deliberately make a big fuss. These are also part of film. We don’t make just content. Films are not data.
Q: The work you screened in Tokyo this May and the work you are screening in Yamagata have different structures, don’t they?
OK: Just as we started talking about screening in Yamagata, Shimada, one of our participants, passed away. So we talked about how this had just become a work featuring a dead filmmaker. Shimada had a lot to say, but he usually did trashy things like adult videos and bogus psychography. We included footage of him filming a flying UFO in the mountains in Chichibu in this screening. That was the last I shot of him in 8mm. It was all that was left, and so we threw it in just like that. I felt nostalgic, watching it for the first time in a while, but I started to ask why did you die for a stupid reason, with that stupid face? Why did you die in such a stupid way? His look in that frame seems extremely happy, and I think it would be good if that communicates something to the audience. I think that’s all films are capable of.
(Compiled by Uno Yukiko)
Interviewers: Uno Yukiko, Chiba Minami / Translator: Kyle Hecht
Photography: Ichikawa Eri / Video: Koshimizu Emi / 2011-10-11