Tim Grabham (Iloobia) and Neil Cantwell (Dissolving Path) have been working hard over the past few years creating a full length documentary or rather an exploration in Sound – throughout parts of Southern Japan. With a Hip hop Priest and a plethora of spiritual encounters the film has been well received at the various screenings it has already had around the world. With an album recently released along side, I spoke to Tim and Neil about the background of the film and the idea behind the album Kanzeon Reindications.
S9: Tell me about the film and how it came about
Tim: The film is a documentary of sorts about sound in the context of Japanese religion and philosophy. From the outset it never wanted to be a TV style piece, especially as so much television documentary has become caught up in a rather tunnel vision and dogmatic format and attitude.
Having a background in art and animation and a love of unconventional cinema, I always hoped that the first feature I attempted would echo this as oppose to anything remotely conformist.
I’d previously made two short films in Japan and I was keen to get into a feature length project out there, but was without any idea what it would be about. Then I met Neil at a friends birthday party and he presented some fascinating ideas.
Neil: The film grew out of my time living in Japan, doing research on Japanese religion but also finding myself making most progress in my life there through various activities being a musician. Then when I came back to the UK, I met Tim and we talked about trying to find an idea for making a film in Japan and somehow everything clicked into place – the underlying ideas, the characters and settings to film were all just kind of waiting there to be put into some kind of shape, which was discovered in the process of making the film.
“a battered digital stills camera and super 8mm film”
Tim: The actual film-making part was incredibly micro budget stuff. There were only three of us – Neil, myself and talented cameraman Tom Swindell. All kit had to be carried on our backs so we were incredibly sparse in what we were using – a Sony Z7, a small selection of mics, a Canon HV20, a battered digital stills camera and super 8mm film. But the attitude was to make the very best of these minimal tools and push them to their limits. It was also almost totally unscripted and thoroughly organic process so the element of chance played a huge part – something I am very interested in for the creative process. The contributors would tell us what they wanted to do and what locations to shoot at and we would respond day by day, experimenting most of the time, to try and capture what was going on in front of us. Most of the time we had little idea what that was until it happened so it was very exciting but pretty nerve-wracking too.
S9: How did you find the Hip Hop Priest?
Neil: I met Tatsumi through my music-making partner in Shinekosei, Koichi Yuasa (Ko), while I was living in Fukuoka. Ko and Tatsumi are friends from high school and so they are into the same type of music and all. A little while after I started making music with Ko, he took me on a number of little trips down to Tatsumi’s place in the countryside to get him involved in what we were doing as well – obviously given that I was also there to do research about Japanese religion I got interested in the fact that Tatsumi was a priest, and had lots of great experiences helping him out on his daily prayer rounds and staying with his family at the temple. But essentially the connection came through music – we made tracks and played some shows together and just became friends through that really.
S9: What was the thought process behind Reindications?
Neil: I think basically it just came from sharing out something that I really wanted to do myself – given that we were recording all of these amazing performances and sonic environments, as someone who makes sample-based music, it seemed entirely natural to then want to use these field recordings to make other tracks. So given that was something I was starting to do myself with Ko as Shinekosei, it then just seemed natural to think “well, maybe some other people would like to be able to use these great samples as well”. So that’s how we came to send on the files to the range of artists who are involved in the ReIndications project, mainly because of just being really excited to see what they would come up with and generally wanting to share and spread the word about the project and the film.
S9: When can we see the film?
Tim: The film has been traveling to festivals since July 2011, starting in Toronto, then Estonia, Ireland, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and next is Warsaw in October. Our London premiere is at the ICA in London on 18th November where we will host a big after party as part of the Zipangu Film Fest. Tatsumi will be traveling from Japan along with Ko to perform as well as a whole lot of other DJ’s. We will also have amoeba.av doing his tripped out AV remix of footage from the film which is very exciting. He first did this out in Russia in April in a cave so we are keen to see what he does here. In the future we would like to release it on DVD and we are in discussion with distributors but for now the film is on its own little journey being posted to festivals around the globe.
For the latest news on screenings and more about the film visit Kanzeon the Movie.