TOKYOPOP Fam! I'm out here in Tokyo and yesterday met with an up-and-coming director who has done some fascinating and hysterical creative work. He's a Canadian living in Japan, and really melding genres, crushing cultural barriers and pushing (more like smacking) the envelope.
I'm personally dedicated - through both TOKYOPOP and my own life - to discovering and helping introduce talented artists to the world. So, I'm pleased to introduce you to Bueno - you may love his stuff or hate it, but he's out there expressing himself, expanding his horizons, and keeping the world sane (er, insane) - so see what you think! Here's his latest short film YAKUZAMBIE (yup, YAKUZA meets ZOMBIE!) - and an exclusive interview with Bueno below.
STU: How did you get into action directing?
BUENO: To be honest, I basically just bought myself a camera. However, I didn't develop my own style right off the bat. I grew up on Tokusatsu and Hong Kong Action movies. And when I started hanging out with stuntmen on set, that's when I really got feel for how to shoot an action/fight scene for film.
STU: When and why did you move to Japan?
BUENO: I first came to Japan because I wanted to try something different. Canada's nice and all, but I wanted to go to Japan ever since I first went to Kochi City for a school trip back in high school. The culture and overall atmosphere was overall than what I was used to until that time and decided that if there's any place I wanted to live in, it would be Japan.
STU: What stimulates you about Japan creatively?
BUENO: Japan has their two main kind of cultures: Traditional and Contemporary. The way that Japan mixes the two at times is very interesting. Aside from that, Japan also has a plethora of sub-cultures spanning over several forms of arts, media, and entertainment. I don't think there's any other place in the world where I would be able to film two rubber monsters having sex or let me be a referee for KY jelly battle royale catfight between strippers. And all in the same day to boot!
Its experiences like these that keep my creative juices flowing.
STU: Have you always loved Tokusatsu, Sentai, anime etc and what are your favorites?
BUENO: I remember watching Kamen Rider Black as a kid when I visited the Philippines. He punched and kicked a monster in the friggin' face and made it blow up.
That's when I fell in love with the show and the genre of Tokusatsu.
Kamen Rider Faiz has got to be my favorite though. The relations and conflicts between the characters is really what makes it a good show. And the way that Tasaki edits the end of the episode in a way that gets you hooked is so addictive...
Anime wise, I love a lot of the old school Shonen Jump stuff. Hokuto no Ken, Dragon Ball Z, and Yu Yu Hakusho. But also some of their newer stuff such as Bleach and Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure (Yes, I know the Manga is a classic). Over-the-top shows like GaoGaiGar, Gurenn Lagann, G-Gundam, Grappler Baki really catch my eye. In fact, a few of these shows inspire a bit of how I shoot action. As far as recent stuff goes, I enjoyed Karas, Zet-Man, Psycho Pass, just finished watching Samurai Flamenco. Hilarious and addicting show that one.
I love video games as well. Although I may not be great at fighting games, I play games like Street Fighter, King of Fighters, BlazBlue, and Guilty Gear from time to time. RPG wise, I'm a fan of Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears, and Phantasy Star Portable: Infinity.
Sorry to unleash all that geek-dom on you, but hey...you asked. lol
STU: No apology necessary!!
STU: How did you come up with the story and project for Yakuzambie?
BUENO: I often visit the YouTube Space Tokyo and the some of managers at the space really enjoyed "Gun Caliber" since they've made films themselves. A lot of Japanese YouTubers just upload videos of themselves eating food, singing, or playing cell phone games, so to be able to see this no-budget action comedy superhero movie made in Japan and on YouTube was totally unheard of.
Directing on the set of "Yakuzambie" at the YouTube Space Tokyo
When Halloween came around, the Space was going to have a set that was designed by Guillermo del Toro. The other YouTube Spaces in LA and London were pumping out horror shorts left and right, while almost no-one was making anything at the Tokyo Space. It was then that one of the reps of the Tokyo Space asked me if I could come up with a horror short using the set.
I like Yakuza films and Zombie films, so When I took the words "Yakuza" and "Zombie" and put them together, it just clicked. The fake trailer of "Machete" also helped me decide on how I was going to format a crazy movie concept like this in 5 minutes. We only had a day to shoot everything, but it worked it pretty well and everyone had a lot of fun on set.
STU: What are your goals in the future?
BUENO: I would really like to be able to create more and more superheroes and create a world in which they crossover and interact with each other. Much like Marvel and DC Comics. Establishing Garage Hero/Productions as a brand is one of the things I would like to achieve as well. I'm looking into other ways in which to put my stuff out there and Redbubble seems like a nice way to make a bit fun little merchandise. Yazkuzambie T-shirts anyone?
During my time here, I've gained a lot of great resources to help me make more films. I have a guy who can make props and costumes, a guy who can do CG, and numerous other people who want to help me shoot more movies, however we don't have a place to set up shop.
That's definitely on the agenda and I feel that would help boost the work flow of our productions. You can only make so many superhero suits on a rooftop or in a garage.
Bueno with veteran director Koichi Sakamoto (Power Rangers, Kamen Rider Fourze, Jyuuden Sentai Kyoryuger)
STU: What are your biggest challenges being a creative in Japan?
BUENO: The entertainment industry in Japan is VERY small so almost everyone knows everyone. It also makes it extremely competitive, so only the skilled people are able to join the elite. This makes it even harder for foreigners as even Japanese people in the industry have it rough, so I'm thankful for the fact that I've been able to experience many different things not only on set but in this country.
Japan is suffering on an economic level right now and a lot of the things I see around me here also translate onto my work. I may not have a lot of money to make movies, but I try to work around that as much as I can on my shoots and come up with ways in which I can solve problems on set with creativity rather than with money.
STU: Any message to the TOKYOPOP fanbase?
BUENO: Thanks for taking the time to read this interview folks! If you're a creative type like myself, start creating things! Your first and second tries may be a little rough, but with time and experience you should be able to iron out the kinks and have more confidence to make things. We live in a digital age where the tools have been made more accessible to everyone, so all that's left is how YOU will use those tools to express yourself.
Please continue to support my work by following me on all the SNS' and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel! And also hit me up with a message. Its always nice to talk with everyone who's seen my stuff!
Thank you very much!