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Michael Goro Takeuchi


Mike Goro Takeuchi is a professional journalist who has written on film and sports  for numerous outlets sincr 2000. An award-winning creative non-fiction writer, Tak also pens a weekly sports column for a newspaper based in Southern California.

 

He was the production manager for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival from 2006-2015. 

Twitter-@irontak


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Halfway Through, All the Way There-Oscar Nominated Animated Short Filmmakers Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter

  The journey may not yet even be half over, but Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are already nearing a creative summit of sorts.  Eight months into what has already been an extensive, awards-filled festival run with no foreseeable end on the horizon, the couple’s animated short “Negative Space” was recently nominated for an Oscar in that category by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

"Negative Space" filmmakers Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter

 

The five-minute and 30 second short, which so far has earned 52 awards as well as an Annie Award nomination, recently joined “Dear Basketball” (directed by Glen Keane and produced by Kobe Bryant), “Garden Party” (Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon), “Lou” (Dave Mullins and Dana Murray), “Revolting Rhymes” (Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer) in the Oscars category with the winner being announced on Sunday, March 4 in Los Angeles.  The Oscar nomination led to Kuwahata being invited to serve on Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Women in Film Panel at the Lobero Theatre.  Inside the red-festooned building that housed the oldest opera house in the Western United States, Kuwahata joined documentary short Academy Award nominee Ellen McMillion Sheldon (“Heroin(e)”), April Napier (costume designer for best picture nominee “Lady Bird”), Lucy Sibbick, (nominated hair and make-up artist for “Darkest Hour”), Darla K. Anderson (Oscar nominated producer of the animated movie “Coco”), and Tatiana S. Riegel (Oscar-nominated film editor for “I, Tonya”) for a lively panel moderated by journalist and marketing company president Madelyn Hammond.

The five-minute and 30 second short, which so far has earned 52 awards as well as an Annie Award nomination, recently joined “Dear Basketball” (directed by Glen Keane and produced by Kobe Bryant), “Garden Party” (Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon), “Lou” (Dave Mullins and Dana Murray), “Revolting Rhymes” (Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer) in the Oscars category with the winner being announced on Sunday, March 4 in Los Angeles.  The Oscar nomination led to Kuwahata being invited to serve on Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Women in Film Panel at the Lobero Theatre.  Inside the red-festooned building that housed the oldest opera house in the Western United States, Kuwahata joined documentary short Academy Award nominee Ellen McMillion Sheldon (“Heroin(e)”), April Napier (costume designer for best picture nominee “Lady Bird”), Lucy Sibbick, (nominated hair and make-up artist for “Darkest Hour”), Darla K. Anderson (Oscar nominated producer of the animated movie “Coco”), and Tatiana S. Riegel (Oscar-nominated film editor for “I, Tonya”) for a lively panel moderated by journalist and marketing company president Madelyn Hammond.

  “It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Porter said at a reception following the SBIFF panel on February 3.  “To have our film nominated even though it is still playing in festivals is kind of surreal.”

 Along with making commercials for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Ralph Lauren and Arm and Hammer (Orajel), “Negative Space” became the fourth animated short the married couple has produced together via their own Baltimore-based company, Tiny Inventions (tinyinventions.com). The duo used a variety of handcrafted art, hand drawings, stop-motion photography and, computer generated animation in its prior work, which included three short animated films “Something Left, Something Taken” (2010), “Between Times” (2014), and “Perfect Houseguest” in 2015. 

  The strictly stop-motion animated film “Negative Space” is a poignant story about a father and son bonding through the former packing for frequent trips that was adapted from a piece of flash fiction written by Pasadena-based writer Ron Koertge.  The piece, which was part of Koertge’s book “Sex World”, hit home when Kuwahata read it.  

  “My dad was an airline pilot for Japan Airlines,” Kuwahata said in Santa Barbara. “He had this really long list of what to pack and how to pack it.  I remember him even checking (the official time clock) to make sure his watch was accurate.  When I read his poem, I was thinking that this was my childhood.”

  After a year of securing funding and storyboarding the project, the Japan-born Kuwahata and her New Yorker husband Porter took another nine months to produce this film in France with a mainly French crew. The English language film, which was subtitled in French, was produced by Ikki Films (Nidia Santiago and Edwina Liard-ikkiflms.com) and co-produced by MANUEL CAM Studio (Jean-Louis Padis, manuelcam.fr). The animation lead was Sylvain Derosne, principal cinematographers were Nadine Buss and Simon Gesrel. While Bram Meindersma provided the music and sound design, and filmmaker Albert Birney (who directed the 2017 SXSW premiered feature “Sylvio”) narrated.  Due to different funding sources the film was produced in four different locations throughout France - requiring the team to pack up, move, and unpack the entire set of stop-motion animation models and sets each time.

  “We became experts at reusing bubble wrap,” Kuwahata said while laughing during the panel. “But it was an incredible experience to be able to work and live in France, while working with this amazing team.”

  The film debuted at its first choice to premiere, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in June 2017.  Following that, it’s played at 136 film festivals on every continent but Africa, including a U.S. premier at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October -something that shocked and pleased the originator of the story.

  “After giving them the rights via my publishing company Red Hen Press, I kind of forgot about their film,” Koertge said. “But then I started seeing that it was making a name for itself in film festivals.  It was a complete surprise because I hadn’t realized that it had been doing as well as it’s been doing.  When I was reading about it, I was shocked that it took two years to make because it took me all of one day to write the first draft. What a ratio, huh? I couldn’t be more pleased for them.”

  Next up for Kuwahata and Porter is a feature film based on Kuwahata’s life as a high school exchange student in California.  Due to funding, the couple again will make the film in Europe-something that they relish.

“We really loved it here when we made “Negative Space”,” Kuwahata said at the reception.  “I think that living and working in Europe appeals to our own sensibilities as artists and as people. “

  But first, there is the matter of attending the Oscars while “Negative Space” goes back on the festival circuit.  What a long and wonderful journey it’s been…and continues to be.

 

/files/images/u21516/IMG_0007.jpg

  “It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Porter said at a reception following the SBIFF panel on February 3.  “To have our film nominated even though it is still playing in festivals is kind of surreal.”

 Along with making commercials for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Ralph Lauren and Arm and Hammer (Orajel), “Negative Space” became the fourth animated short the married couple has produced together via their own Baltimore-based company, Tiny Inventions (tinyinventions.com). The duo used a variety of handcrafted art, hand drawings, stop-motion photography and, computer generated animation in its prior work, which included three short animated films “Something Left, Something Taken” (2010), “Between Times” (2014), and “Perfect Houseguest” in 2015. 

  The strictly stop-motion animated film “Negative Space” is a poignant story about a father and son bonding through the former packing for frequent trips that was adapted from a piece of flash fiction written by Pasadena-based writer Ron Koertge.  The piece, which was part of Koertge’s book “Sex World”, hit home when Kuwahata read it.  

  “My dad was an airline pilot for Japan Airlines,” Kuwahata said in Santa Barbara. “He had this really long list of what to pack and how to pack it.  I remember him even checking (the official time clock) to make sure his watch was accurate.  When I read his poem, I was thinking that this was my childhood.”

  After a year of securing funding and storyboarding the project, the Japan-born Kuwahata and her New Yorker husband Porter took another nine months to produce this film in France with a mainly French crew. The English language film, which was subtitled in French, was produced by Ikki Films (Nidia Santiago and Edwina Liard-ikkiflms.com) and co-produced by MANUEL CAM Studio (Jean-Louis Padis, manuelcam.fr). The animation lead was Sylvain Derosne, principal cinematographers were Nadine Buss and Simon Gesrel. While Bram Meindersma provided the music and sound design, and filmmaker Albert Birney (who directed the 2017 SXSW premiered feature “Sylvio”) narrated.  Due to different funding sources the film was produced in four different locations throughout France - requiring the team to pack up, move, and unpack the entire set of stop-motion animation models and sets each time.

  “We became experts at reusing bubble wrap,” Kuwahata said while laughing during the panel. “But it was an incredible experience to be able to work and live in France, while working with this amazing team.”

  The film debuted at its first choice to premiere, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in June 2017.  Following that, it’s played at 136 film festivals on every continent but Africa, including a U.S. premier at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October -something that shocked and pleased the originator of the story.

  “After giving them the rights via my publishing company Red Hen Press, I kind of forgot about their film,” Koertge said. “But then I started seeing that it was making a name for itself in film festivals.  It was a complete surprise because I hadn’t realized that it had been doing as well as it’s been doing.  When I was reading about it, I was shocked that it took two years to make because it took me all of one day to write the first draft. What a ratio, huh? I couldn’t be more pleased for them.”

  Next up for Kuwahata and Porter is a feature film based on Kuwahata’s life as a high school exchange student in California.  Due to funding, the couple again will make the film in Europe-something that they relish.

“We really loved it here when we made “Negative Space”,” Kuwahata said at the reception.  “I think that living and working in Europe appeals to our own sensibilities as artists and as people. “

  But first, there is the matter of attending the Oscars while “Negative Space” goes back on the festival circuit.  What a long and wonderful journey it’s been…and continues to be.

 

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