Born in 1987. Studied theater at Nihon University before leaving to enroll in a university film course in California. Later returned to Japan, subsequently directing stage productions and writing scripts while producing video works. Currently in charge of video production for an IT venture company. Formed film production unit One Goose with actors Youji Minagawa and Yoshitomo Isozaki. His feature directorial debut “Melancholic” was screened in the Japanese Cinema Splash category of the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival, where it received a prize for Best Director, and also won a White Mulberry Award for First Film at the 2019 Udine Far East Film Festival.
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10+5 Questions for Seiji Tanaka
“The Circus” by Charlie Chaplin. Or it might be “Godzilla vs. Mothra.”
Good Will Hunting
The Social Network
The Wolf of Wall Street
Woody Allen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Aziz Ansari, Ian McEwan, Kuniko Mukoda, Akira Kurosawa
“Annie Hall” by Woody Allen
Shinzo Katayama (Although he’s 10 years senior to me so I’m not sure if I can say we’re the same generation.)
- It allows me to create a meaningful story to someone, which wouldn’t have existed without me. It is my own way to make the world a better place by such experience.
- It helps me introduce my dear actor friends to the world.
- Huntington Beach. It’s a place I went often by myself to hang out and let the time go by when I was studying in California.
- Any place where I can drink coffee and read a book in peace
- Keeping restrooms clean
- Wide selection of foods at convenience stores and their quality
- Simple grilled yamame trout, freshly caught in a mountain stream
- Rakugo (a form of verbal entertainment), Manzai (a style of comedy)
- Buddhism, Buddhist art (I know these are not unique to Japan.)
I wish I would be spending 6 months out of a year in LA, New York, and Europe.
ABOUT YOUR FILM “MELANCHOLIC“
The scene where Kazuhiko, the protagonist, runs into Yuri, his classmate in High School, at the sento (Japanese bathhouse).
I love how desperately he tries to hide his lack of experience with girls by acting cool and how obvious his intention is.
It all started out when Yoji (*the lead actor and producer Yoji Minagawa) come to me and said “Let’s make a movie together.” After we brought Yoshitomo (*the actor and fight coordinator Yoshitomo Isozaki) on board, the three of us would get together every week trying to decide what kind of movie we should make. And out of that came the basic premise of “a young man struggling with his part-time job, which is disposing of dead bodies.” With that as a foundation, I worked on the outline while incorporating my own frustration for not being successful as a film writer into it. Having Yoji and Yoshitomo co-star in the movie was a given from the get-go.
I played the Terminator 2 theme song on repeat the whole time I was writing the screenplay. (There was no particular reason, but listening to a music with a repeated melody line in loop gets me into trance state, which helps with writing.)
There were a couple of scenes we could not film due to schedule constraints, and I still wish we had film them to this day.
In the original screenplay, it was a construction site, not a bathhouse, that dead bodies were disposed. But we could not find a location for it and had to change it to something else. That’s how we came up with the idea of “bathhouse.”
Message to our audience about this film
I am more surprised than anyone that a small independent film that I created with two of my friends has spread like this, especially as it was out of a simple desire to make a film that we can screen in theaters.
Public baths exist across the world, but sento have a very unique atmosphere and stimulate our imagination. I cannot help but feel that the action of “cleansing and warming your body” is symbolic, and even a wall art and a row of washbowls you see at sento are intriguing. This film “Melancholic” was born when such unique place sento met our pure desire to make an engaging film.