On Saturday, the 23rd of March, I had the cast and crew screening for my film, Impossible to Imagine. I was pretty nervous. On the 10th, I had a mini screening for 2 actresses, and Sachie who sings the theme song, because they couldn’t make the big event, and they had enjoyed it a lot. But 4 friends in a comfortable room with wine and cheese is a lot different from a rented out hall with a much bigger audience.
But you only get so many chances in life to premiere your first feature film, and I wanted to do it right. I wanted to have a party.
“Just remember to enjoy it.” Hamish, my producer, told me. “It will go in a flash.” So I took little mindfulness moments throughout to properly notice how good it was. It’s hard to describe just how wonderful it was.
First, there were no technology issues. How rare is that! The projector clicked on and was in focus. Andrew, who brought it, had it all lined up and sorted in a minute, and the professional audio people had the sound figured soon after. As people started pouring in we were told that the wine and cheese party we planned couldn’t include the wine… but everyone took that in their stride and we bought some juice instead and we were golden. I had ordered posters made (on a bit of an impulse) and when one of my coworkers had suggested that people wouldn’t really want them, I was pretty crushed. I had ordered 80 of them just in case… But, I told the actors to be ready to sign, and bought marker pens, and enlisted some of my coworkers kids help. They were little troopers, running through the crowd asking people, “Would you like a poster.” I got asked to sign and date posters, and pose with posters and people. It was like being a celebrity. Standing with Yuki at one point we grinned at each other. “This is fun…”
We did a couple of speeches, and then settled down into watching the film. I sat right up the back with my husband and my friend Whitney who had travelled over from Hiroshima. My coworkers were a few seats in front of me. William had his family group up the front with him, and Yuki had a large group of her friends in the audience.
I had never watched the film with such a large audience before. To be honest, most of the times I’d watched the film with people, it was unfinished and we were looking at it critically for things that were weird, or wrong and needing tweaking. This time, everyone was just there for the story. It was so satisfying to hear people laugh at the jokes, and then in some scenes, the little noises of surprise in parts that I hadn’t expected would be surprising, was very interesting, and I hope will make me become a better editor.
After it ended, I got a lot of handshakes and hugs. One gentlemen told me I had avoided most of the mistakes that first time filmmakers do, and I wished I had more than a moment to talk to him and find out which ones they were, and which ones maybe I had still made.
My Japanese filmmaker friends were so excited, and said they felt the film showed a good balance of opinions from Japanese people, avoiding generalisations, and that the film could be a “bridge” for international/Japanese people.
I really wanted this film to start a conversation, and I am so happy that it seems to have. My coworker, who also has a part in the film, is married to a Japanese lady and has a biracial daughter. Post screening, he told me, they opened a bottle of wine and talked over some of the lines and the themes in the film. Some had hit particularly close to home for him.
Three of my students came. I was sure they would be bored. It’s not really a kids movie. But one of the parents emailed me later a sweet message. She said that during one of the scenes when Ami and Hayato are walking along the road, hand in hand, her son leaned over and whispered, “See mum, they’re falling in love.” Another little girl had to leave midway, but told her mum that they’ll see it when it comes out at Movix (a chain here in Kyoto).
I met the teenage daughter of one of my friends and actors. He is a bit of a professional extra, and loves to act. I guess she’s seen him in a lot of different things and perhaps even resents how much his hobby takes him away from the family. At the beginning of the night she was quite shy towards me, and dismissive of him. “He’s not an actor.” She said. By the end of the night she was looking at him with eyes shining, and declaring that she was going to be in the next one.
I received so much support from my friends and coworkers in setting up, cleaning up, and providing things like projectors to make the night run smoothly. I received a lot of positive feedback from everyone who came to talk to me after the film, and many more through email messages later.
I was so happy, and was definitely floating on that feeling for days to come.
Post screening we went out to Osho to debrief, drink and ride the adrenaline high. I think around this time was when I overstretched my poor vocal chords in excitement, and I spent the next 2 days without a voice. But… no regrets!
So next steps now… hopefully we’ll get into a festival. Hopefully someone in Japan here will like it. I hope that it continues to bring joy to those who watch it, and spark good conversations and deep thoughts. I hope that it will be someone’s favourite movie one day.
Here’s the trailer anyway, and hopefully one day the full film will be available someway to see fully.