11 Sep Q&A WITH CHRIS TASHIMA, DIRECTOR OF DAY OF INDEPENDENCE
Chris Tashima is an academy award winner for his live action short film, VISAS AND VIRTUES, which screened at the first San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2000. This year, he is showing his newest dramatic short, DAY OF INDEPENDENCE, at the fifth annual SDAFF on October 21st to 24th.
Set in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, DAY OF INDEPENDENCE is a touching story of a Japanese American family’s sacrifices and triumphs during internment. The healing powers of the all American sport, baseball, helped this one family endure and persevere. 120,000 other Japanese Americans were under internment during this dark time in history. The official film-website is at www.cedargroveproductions.com
PACIFIC ARTS MOVEMENT: Where did you get the story idea for Day of Independence?
CHRIS TASHIMA: Having grown up knowing about the camps, it was always something I wanted to address in my work. I began developing a “baseball in camp” feature screenplay, since baseball was so symbolic, ironic, cinematic, and factual – it was a part of camp life. But credit for the DAY OF INDEPENDENCE must go to Tim Toyaama, who wrote the one-act play which we adapted to the screen. It is actually based on his father’s story.
PAC ARTS: You had quite an impressive crew & cast—Greg Watanabe, Tamlyn Tomita, Sab Shimono—how did you get everyone together?
TASHIMA: This became a great meeting of the minds/talent/community. An unforeseen delay in preproduction gave us 9 months of extra prep-time. This allowed us to pull together our “dream team.” I would never ordinarily ask any of these actors to be extras, but once the notion of it being an “all-staf choir” came about, Emily Kuroda (GILMORE GIRLS) was one of the first to say yes. Then Sab Shimono agreed. Once Sab was onboard, everyone else that was available stepped in. John Cho even wanted to be a part of it, but had to work that night.
PAC ARTS: What’s the biggest challenge with acting & directing in a film?
TASHIMA: There’s the initial decision that you can/should/will do both—it bugs me when a director casts himself in a role he is not right for. Otherwise, it’s just scheduling
problems. Basically: as a director, needing to worry about memorizing lines, and arriving don-set early to get into wardrobe, makeup and hair. And as an actor, it’s not having any time to prepare. I usually study like crazy (as an actor) not just memorizing lines, but contemplating blocking, script, words, beats, relationships, etc. If I’m directing, I’m have about a tenth the amount of prep time, if at all.
PAC ARTS: What’s your next project?
TASHIMA: Cedar Grove Productions has a sequel to DAY OF INDEPENDENCE, where we following three of our ballplayers, one year later when they’ve enlisted in the 442 and fighting in Europe. We also have a feature screenplay about baseball camp, but with a different story and set of characters than DAY OF INDEPENDENCE.
PAC ARTS: How’s that Oscar of yours?
TASHIMA: He’s okay… I recently had to send him to the Oscar Doctor. We had taken him to a screening in Sacramento, and he fell out of the back of the car, resulting in a bend at the ankles and a lean giving him a sad, drunken posture. But he’s fine now.
PAC ARTS: Finally, what is your favorite Food & drink?
Johnny Rockets #12 and a chocolate coke.
Pacific Arts Movement presents Asian American Pacific Islander and Asian international media arts for San Diego residents and visitors in order to inspire, entertain and support a more compassionate society.