One mark of a great production crew is a finished product that looks like it was produced effortlessly. Making things look easy, especially when it comes to film-making, is anything but and typically requires a coordinated effort between each crew member. Imagine then, if at least three or more of those crew member responsibilities were some of the more demanding ones to take on. Imagine further, if those three crew members, were actually just one person…
Taena Hoshi chats with us about her many roles within the Phantasmes Video production crew, both past and present. No lies detected when she says it’s hard work, but damn if she doesn’t make it all look so easy…
Thank you Taena for taking the time! Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background as an artist, and how you came to be involved in Gacha Gacha.
Since meeting Dave in 2008, I have lent my hand in many of his projects. By now we both know that I’m going to be involved in his projects in one way or another! I don’t call myself an artist, but making things and drawing things has always been a part of my life. I’ve worked for many years in interior design and so I have been lucky to have had creative roles both in my career and personal life.
Given the comparatively small production crew for Gacha Gacha, some members were required to wear multiple-hats. In your case, props, translator, and producer. Sounds daunting! Care to talk about what that was like, and what each role required of you?
‘Multiple hats’ is my middle name! Making props and working as a producer has often been my roles in Dave’s projects, but this was the first time where I had to wear the translator hat. This didn’t just mean I was to interpret Dave’s directing to the Japanese actors, but every single time we needed to contact any member of the non-bilingual Japanese crew, I had to be involved.
Regarding your role as translator, were there any difficulties in conveying the director's intent scene to scene, or did that process pretty much roll forward smoothly?
Even without any language barriers, the exchange between a director and actor is already one of interpreting, right? The director says what they want, then the actor interprets that to create the performance. So for the interpreter, it’s not enough to simply translate the words, but to understand what the director wants and to accurately convey that to the actor.
I could see that Dave adjusted the way he directed in order to better the chances of getting the message across to the actors through me, which isn’t ideal. I hope to use what I learnt from this experience so that next time Dave doesn’t have to make such a compromise.
Do you typically collaborate with or assist Dave in his zany projects? I want to say that I recall seeing you participate in the older web series, Serving Up Scrab...Kinda funny looking back at that episode's theme of miscommunication (or the inability to communicate at all), given your recent duties, ha-ha!
You have done your homework... yes, sadly I have embarrassed myself on a number of Dave’s past works. Needless to say he is influenced by works of his favourite directors but Dave certainly has a knack for drawing form his own life and convincing people around him (non-actors such as myself) to play absurd characters that he concocts.
You were also a producer for Cat Sick Blues, can you tell us a bit about your involvement there? What are the major differences and challenged between producing a short film and a feature length one?
The only significant difference between being a producer for a short film and a feature film is the duration - they require the same amount of effort and involve the same amount of stress! We shot CSB for over 30 weeks and during that time it was very much part of our every day. Often we would shoot on the weekend, so the weekdays were mad with getting everything we needed ready - ensuring we had the people we needed, location locked down, last minute props made... all while having a day job!
There was a huge difference between shooting CSB and Gacha Gacha in that we shot one in Melbourne and the other in Osaka. Shooting in Osaka meant: working without the tight-knit crew we had in Melbourne, the language barrier, logistical challenges such as parking! There were a lot of unknowns…
Specifically with Gacha Gacha and your role in the props department, which part of your work are you most proud of?
It was great fun to get to be involved in the design of the main tanuki - there is such joy in drawing gross things! To see Deiter turn it into a physical little guy was really rewarding.
We asked the leads this question, and are curious what your take is on it. How would you personally classify Gacha Gacha, as horror, thriller, dark comedy?
I’m not all that versed with film terminology and genres but maybe Gacha Gacha sits in the absurdist/surrealist ballpark?
Are you a fan of the horror genre by chance? If so, do you have any favorites?
I’m not hugely in to watching scary movies… but being with Dave has meant I’ve been subjected to many of them!
I guess Gremlins 1 & 2 are childhood faves and they will always hold a special place in my heart.
What, or who, inspires your work?
In terms of the work I do with Dave... I’ve never really thought about what or who inspires me.. For Gacha Gacha I referenced yokai which is synonymous with the works of Mizuki Shigeru. One of my favourite books growing up was a yokai guide book illustrated by the artist. Without meaning to, often when I’m trying to draw gross characters, my drawings turn out looking Hino Hideshi-esque.
Any parting words of wisdom you'd care to share with budding artists looking to make a name for themselves in the industry?
I am in no way authorised to give any words of wisdom... to do with this industry or otherwise. The involvement I have had in this field is totally accidental. But through that I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who are absolutely dedicated to their craft.
I am always in awe of and amazed by creatives who love what they do to a point of obsession (Dave being one of them). Though they may work in different mediums, they have that in common and from what I have seen, they are the people who make up this industry.
Taena, we wish you all the best in your future creative endeavors!
Thank you, that is extremely kind!