Director of Tokyo Godfathers Speaks

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Copypasta goodness on Satoshi Kon, director of Paprika and Tokyo Godfathers, and his creative process.

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The Future of Work August 9, 2007, 7:31PM EST

Satoshi Kon

The 43-year-old anime director for Tokyo’s Madhouse Anime recently began work on his fifth full-length feature film after winning worldwide acclaim for his 2006 fantasy epic Paprika.

How I brainstorm differs with every new project. There’s no formula. Since there’s no telling when or how I’ll arrive at my next idea, I have to remain attuned to what’s happening around me. I rarely start off with a fully realized vision of a story line. Often I’ll have an idea that needs to be fleshed out, and as I proceed a lot of factors will suddenly come together, like a chemical reaction, to form a story line.

Paprika was based on a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui. I loved reading Paprika. I was convinced that it was my fate to do this project. I went to ask the author for permission to do a movie based on his book, but he ended up asking me if I would make the movie. The book delves into the merging of the real and imaginary worlds. Just because you’re working from a novel doesn’t mean it’s any easier to come up with a script. It was a slow process—I’d say it took 10 months, which is longer than usual. Translating the text into pictures took about a year and a half. You have to go from storyboard sketch to detailed drawings, which then get blown up and used for the actual filming.

During the filming, I never get run down or feel like I need a break. It’s the opposite: I get energized. I almost never have complaints or worry about work. It can be physically draining. But when it gets busy I’ll start thinking of how I should do a scene the moment I’m awake. I’ll come in with new ideas daily that I want to test out.

I never imagined I’d become an anime director. At one point, I wanted to make a living drawing manga [comics]. That led me to animation. But I have no idea where this will take me. Some chance incident may change the course of my life, and I prefer to remain open to that. I’m not ambitious. I don’t have a dream. I just want to enjoy my work.

Source: BusinessWeek

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