Your new movie Kokeshi
- in a few words, what is it about?
Kokeshi is about the reaction to an unexpected situation that suddenly swoops in
your life. Even if your life is weird, something weirder can happen any
does feature its fair share of references to Japanese culture - would you
like to elaborate on that?
familiar with Japan because my wife is Japanese and we have been living
there for some years. Of course, I love Japanese culture and Japanese
movies. When I start to write a screenplay, I often think about a legend
to start with and I go on writing an original story. The only scheme that
I follow is my sensitiveness . For this movie, I based the plot on a
child's song called Kagomè, and I invented a kind of curse related to it.
It is a meaningful, creepy song . But
it is only in the end that you realize you are really dead.
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Kokeshi?
My first love: Italian horror movies from the 70s/80s, like Lucio
Fulci's [Lucio Fulci interview
- click here]. Bloody
scenes, gothic atmosphere, close ups… all of that is my inspiration. I
wanted my sountrack, composed by Antony Coia, to be similar to that
period. I think that music plays a very important part in horror movies, and
he did very good job.
As a result: A Japanese ghost was the main character of a gothic italian
horror... it was just the unexpected situation that I meant before.
certainly doesn't hold back when it comes to violence - so what can you
tell us about that aspect of your movie, and was there ever a line you
refused to cross for other than budgetary reasons?
Sex is an important part in my movie, so I wanted to show a sexual
torture. I don’t like the method “imagine and don’t show”.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
prefer to shoot the scenes in chronological order, instead of shooting all
scenes in one location and then change. I know that it is not always
possible, and sometimes I shoot the finale first. I
don’t like this, because nobody is warmed up. In the case of Kokeshi, I
choose to take a whole day just to shoot "the ring about roses" part.
Paolo Salvadeo, Silvia Sorrentino a.k.a. Miss
Satine, Michela Zattini, Davide Pesca, Paolo
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people? And how
easy or hard was it to find people willing to be in a movie like yours?
It wasn’t easy to find the right cast for Kokeshi. I needed a perfect
dark lady , a crazy main actor, main characters and proud girls for other
roles. I was very lucky to find Silvia Sorrentino, known as Miss Satine, world burlesque champion, sexy and daunting at the same time. She was
perfect, so I contacted her and I'm lucky she loved the screenplay so much. So we started to work with her character. It was the same
with Paolo Salvadeo, I watched a brief scene in which he acted as Joker and he
was perfect. I'm proud of my other two girls: Michela Zattini and Giulia
Colli, they played difficult parts, they were naked in a freezing
dungeon... at the very beginning they were nervous, but they soon got
relaxed. So everything went
I think that as long as an actor believes in you, he is able to play
any kind of role.
talk about the shoot as such for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere!
The atmosphere was amazing, beginning with the location. We shoot in
the basement of a building situated in the centre of a small Italian town:
a real and scary very old dungeon.
We were immediately kidnapped by the atmosphere of the movie and
everyone worked so hard. That was the best set I ever had: All
actors were always ready, the special effects artist Davide Pesca and DOP Federica
Andreone worked in a very professional way. Nobody complained, even if
they were tired.
The dream scene was shot in Japan, in a temple near Himeji, and in a
cemetery in Okayama. My wife, the Japanese girl in the movie, always wants
to cooperate always with me. For Kokeshi
she had a small role, but she is very good actress too.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?
if the movie is little bit difficult to understand (especially the
similarities of the Japanese song with what's happening in the scene) and
the gore scenes are not always easy on the audience, the response to the
film was good. Maybe they understood that there was a meaning under the
violent scenes, the violence was not pointless.
future projects you'd like to share?
There is my episode of the movie Adrenaline, already in the festivals in
Italy. This is a war story, very different at first sight from my usual
themes, but not too much. In fact people recognized my style and my way of
telling a story. The main actress is again my muse Reiko Nagoshi, and Paolo
Salvadeo plays another crazy role.
I'm in preproduction too with a new horror for the anthology movie Sangue
Misto (Mixed Blood), a movie about racial integration in Italy, horror
Obiviously, in my episode, I will focuse on Japanese people telling a
story about a mysterious lyric singer. Probably it will be less violent
than Kokeshi, but with the same amount of
Then I plan to start another movie (screenplay is ready) at the beginning of
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on
guess I’ve got some kind of “cinema gene” in my veins because I
always remember it as my first passion, especially fantasy and horror
movies. For years, I went to see movies every Sunday and every Monday
afternoon until high school. My parents claimed that, even in the
playground, I have been drawing storyboards... Even if my university study
pointed in another direction (I'm doctor in pharmacy), I studied
cinematography as an autodidact. Finally, in 2002 I made my first short.
It was nothing special, only a short between friends,
but I was very proud of it. Then I worked for television, two years ago I
had a program in television about indie cinema.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Kokeshi?
At first, I worked with my friends, then Himechan
Movie Production was
born. Kokeshi is my favorite work.
But I remember the past years with joy too, we were all students, but we worked
so hard and we were even selected by some Italian film festivals for
would you describe yourself as a director?
think I'm a bad boy (laughs), cause I make people work very hard, usually
until there is no energy left... the reason is because I want the scene too
be exactly like I’ve pictured it. But I'm happy because, at the end,
everyone always asks me when we will work together again and they respect
who inspire you?
took inspiration from both Italian and Japanese directors and I loved
Raimi’s early movies (the short Within the Woods and Evil
much. To give you some names: Koji Wakamatsu (in my opinion one of the best
director in the world, he is over a specific genre), Sion Sono, Lucio
Fulci [Lucio Fulci interview -
click here], Takeshi Miike, early Dario Argento, Takeshi Kitano,
Your favourite movies?
list can be very long... Evil
The Beyond, Go Go Second
Time Virgin, Dawn of the Dead (original and the remake),
Ju On, Tetsuo etc are my
muses... as a fan, I watch martial arts movies, the Rocky saga,
Indiana Jones, The Karate Kid, Porky's, American
Pie, vintage Italian
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
hate romantic comedies and I can't watch movies with dogs dying. They make
me cry. The name "Himechan
Movie Production" is derived from the
name of my dead Japanese dog. But usually, if I don't like a movie, I don't
lose time with it.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!