Anshul Chauhan was born in India. After attending military academy and graduating university with an Arts degree MS University Vadodara, he soon found himself working as an animator starting in 2006 with Paprikaas Studios Pvt Ltd (now Technicolor India). There he worked on TV series projects like “Farm Kids” and “Back At the Barnyards” by Nickelodeon. In 2008, Anshul joined the team as an animator for the National Award-winning film “Delhi Safari” and later became a team lead in Bangalore, overseeing the production of BBC’s TV series “Everything’s Rosie.” In 2011, he relocated to Tokyo where he was employed by Polygon Pictures to work on projects such as the Emmy Award winning “Tron Uprising” by Disney XD, as well as “Transformers, Robots in Disguise” TV series. Eventually, he found himself working at OLM pictures on the “Pacman” animated series by Bandai Namco before moving on to Square Enix. There, he worked on a number of large-scale animation projects including “Final Fantasy 15” - both the game as well as the tie-in film “KingsGlaive” - “Kingdom Hearts 3,” “Gantz:0” and recently released “Final Fantasy 7” remake among others.
During the time he was employed as an animator in Tokyo, alongside his career as an animator, Anshul pursued his passion for directing, establishing his independent production company, Kowatanda Films, in 2016. In 2017, he directed his first feature film, “Bad Poetry Tokyo,” which won the grand prix at the Brussels film festival and screened at many prestigious film festivals, including Raindance. His second feature film, “Kontora,” made in 2019, received Grand Prix at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and multiple awards and critical acclaim at several international film festivals, including the prestigious Obayashi Award in 2020. In 2021, Anshul collaborated with Yaman Films to direct ‘DECEMBER,’ a courtroom drama that premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and received a nomination for the Kim Ji-seok Award in 2022. The film screened at several global festivals and had a successful theatrical run in Japan, with a European release scheduled for the end of 2023 in Spain, Germany, and South Korea.
Currently, Anshul is in the early development stages of his debut Hollywood project, an MMA sports drama set in Las Vegas, in collaboration with CAA and Radical Media. Additionally, he’s working on a new Japan-Taiwan project, recently selected by TCCF/TAICCA Taiwan for the development. Anshul is represented by CAA Los Angeles and has an exciting vision to venture into film production in India in the near future, further expanding his creative horizons.
Bad Poetry Tokyo (2018)
Leo’s Return (2020)
Kawaguchi 4256 (2016)
SELECTED ANIMATION PROJECTS
Kingsglaive: A Final Fantasy film
Gladiators of Rome
~Games and Games Cinematic~
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Final Fantasy XV
Kingdom Hearts 3
Transformers: Robots in Disguise
Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures
Record of Grancrest War
Guardians of Oz
Lego Hero Factory
Find them on social media
10+5 Questions for Anshul Chauhan
1. What is the first film in your memory?
I didn’t watch a full movie until I got to college. During my time at the Military Academy, where I did my schooling, I would catch glimpses of different military films played on VHS tapes. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai” were frequently shown, and I remember watching a few scenes from these films. The first complete movie I watched, in a theater, was “GLADIATOR.”
2. What are some of your favorite films?
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
Gummo (Harmony Korine)
The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy)
All About Lily Chou Chou (Shunji Iwai)
Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
3. Which creators have you been inspired by or influenced by?
There are so many legendary filmmakers, but when it comes to understanding the craft and deconstructing scenes I frequently turn to the cinematic works of Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach, Yasujirō Ozu, David Fincher and Béla Tarr.
4. What are the films that shook your world or changed your life?
Without a doubt, GUMMO and ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU CHOU left me feeling incredibly uneasy when I watched them on the same night. Gummo, just because I couldn’t believe something like this could be shot by a 21-year-old director, Harmony Korine, who also wrote KIDS (Larry Clark) before this. And Lily Chou Chou because it connected with me a bit too much, and also I had never seen a film constructed like that before. These two films also pushed me to pursue filmmaking. I discovered world cinema only after moving to Tokyo in 2011, and it completely changed my life, I would say.
5. Are there any Japanese directors of your generation you are inspired by?
No one in particular, but I like Takeshi Fukunaga’s work; he’s making movies about parts of culture that new filmmakers here often overlook.
6. What does filmmaking mean to you?
Filmmaking is an addiction, a never ending learning process which takes up my whole life, but can also be a suffering.
7. What are you interested in outside of films and filmmaking?
Cooking and Cats.
8. Where’s your happy place?
Taking a nap with my cat Juno.
9. What are the customs or phenomena that are unique to Japan that you want other people to know?
I believe people in Japan are very well-mannered, and I really appreciate that. This includes things like wearing masks when sick and not talking on the phone in trains. But the most important thing that has personally affected me is Japan’s approach to religion. Even after 12 years, I’m still not sure if people are religious, and I think that’s a good thing. They go to temples for enjoyment and worship, but it’s never intense or forced by society or the government. People here respect their elders and observe obon to pay respects to the deceased. All this helps maintain overall societal peace, unlike in countries with radical religions. I discovered a different, more personal aspect of spirituality here by simplifying how I used to look at religion. Simply put, politics in Japan is not motivated by religion or atleast at the forefront, and that’s probably the best aspect of living here.
10. Where would you be in 10 years?
I hope to reach a point where I can create any film I desire without worrying about the budget or facing financial struggles.
ABOUT YOUR FILM “KONTORA“
1. What is your favorite moment in the film? (no spoilers)
Towards the end when Sora is sitting on the bed after her birthday and a lightning thunder can be heard in the background, also the shoji (slide door) shakes. Which happened for real, but I had written this in my notes to add the sound effect of lightning in post on that exact moment when she opens the diary. I had goosebumps while shooting this scene, it was a complete coincidence, like a special moment that felt a bit spiritual to me.
2. Why did you decide to write/make this film?
Honestly, I wrote a different script before this, which was about the Yokosuka Naval base academy which couldn’t workout because of a bigger budget, but in that story also there was a scene of the buried box. So I wrote KONTORA just to shoot this scene, which is based on a real story from my family.
3. Were there any films that you watched as a reference or a source of inspiration?
KONTORA happened very quickly, I decided to make Kontora after visiting the village in Gifu which was in October end 2018 and we started shooting on Nov 25th. So writing, casting and prep all happened in a month’s time. I didn’t have much time to watch many movies but yes I did watch Béla Tarr movies for the aesthetics and also many world war documentaries just for the inspiration and stay in that time period. Netflix had just released the colored version of the Vietnam War series which I watched a lot. Then I also took inspiration from the girl character from a chinese documentary LAST TRAIN HOME (Lixin Fan).
4. Was there any music you were listening to or book you were reading while you were making this film?
I was mainly reading the diaries of student soldiers from World War II and many photo books which helped create the diary. As for music, I mainly listened to the scores of the Tarkovsky Quartet, Mihály Víg, and albums from Sigur Rós.
5. Any fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes or episodes you’d like to share?
We shot the entire film in 9 days, so the schedule was really tight, leaving little room for enjoyment. However, there were moments when Mase san got upset in funny ways, especially when walking barefoot backward in the cold. There’s a scene not included in the film where he was naked by the riverside attempting to do “number 2”, and we were capturing the whole thing. At the same time, at a distance, one of the farmers burned a haystack, creating a large smoke cloud. I wanted to capture this too, so I asked Mase to quickly run by it before the smoke dissipated. He ran backwards while wearing his pants, and did so swiftly, and we used this footage at the beginning of the film in slow motion. After the shot, he punched me on the shoulder.
Message to our audience about this film
I made “Kontora” while still working in the animation industry, making it a quick production. Despite the speed, we had a passionate small team that took time off from their jobs to collaborate on the film. My main goal was to connect the two significant parts of my life: my military background and my art background. Additionally, feeling that my grandma might pass away soon, I wanted to dedicate something special to her. She used to share stories of my grandfather from the war, which inspired the film.
Initially, I hesitated to make this personal film in Japan. However, after learning about similar news of excavations from Tokyo after the war, I realized it could work. Despite my naivety in wanting to release “Kontora” on YouTube due to a lack of knowledge about theater releases, we were fortunate to start winning awards in many festivals, completely changing our trajectory. Looking back at November 2018 when we were shooting Kontora, it was a pure filmmaking experience.
I hope that through SAKKA, “Kontora” reaches more people, and I sincerely hope everyone enjoys the film.