EoM contributor Thomas Manning recently spoke with filmmaker Junta Yamaguchi, the director, cinematographer, and editor of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. In this conversation, they discuss the complicated long takes in the film, the imaginative screenplay from Makoto Ueda, the versatility of the time-travel genre, and the thematic relevance of the story to the world in the era of COVID.
Thomas Manning: I loved the incredible use of long takes throughout the entire runtime of the film. What did that process look like from your standpoint as the director and the cinematographer, choreographing and blocking the shots and movements?
Junta Yamaguchi: Just as in a normal movie shoot, I had to set up the actors and think about the camera work, but I also had to set up the camera and organize the scene by myself. It was a point of reflection, but due to the low budget, I needed to do it by myself this time to save time and money. My mind was in panic as I had to make complicated arrangements. However, with the help of Ueda, the screenwriter, who came to the set and constantly measured the time, and above all, the cooperation of the entire cast, I managed to complete the project.
Thomas Manning: I would love to hear more about your collaboration with Makoto Ueda. The screenplay is so imaginative and complex, and your visual direction of the film is so dynamic. What was your creative partnership like during production? How did you two work together to combine your skillsets to tell this story?
Junta Yamaguchi: Ueda was able to create a wonderful script that took advantage of the complex time design and the topography of the building. Ueda drew the rough sketches and I colored them, focusing on the costumes, camera work, color tone, and sound.
Thomas Manning: The main character of Kato – anchored by Kazunari Tosa’s beautifully subtle, grounded performance – was of great interest to me. From your perspective as the director, what was it like crafting the narrative’s emotional arc around this character’s development?
Junta Yamaguchi: Kato, the character played by Tosa, is a person who is negative about the future. I think there is a similarity with the current world. When you live in a world where the future is unstable, there are times when you suddenly give up hope for the future. This is exactly what happened to Kato. The situation he faces at the end of the story, this is the scene where he realizes that “the present is important, not the past or the future.”
Thomas Manning: There have been many films that explore the concept of time travel across a wide spectrum of genres – action and adventure, thriller, horror, drama, etc. With Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, while there are some thrilling and dramatic moments, it is really the comedy genre that gets the most time in the spotlight. How did the process of using humor and comedy influence your directorial decisions in this film?
Junta Yamaguchi: Ueda and I belong to the theatre company called Europe Kikaku, which is based in Kyoto, Japan. Europe Kikaku has always been good at creating science fiction and comedy, so this time, we naturally placed importance on the comedy elements.
Thomas Manning: One quote from the film that really stood out to me was, “We shouldn’t know the future,” as said by Kato (Kazunari Tosa). This quote sums up one of the main themes that I took from this film: The idea that dwelling too much on the future and working to control it can negatively impact one’s life, and that we should spend more of our time focusing on the preciousness of the present. Did making this film lead you to look any differently at your own life? Or, was this story a reflection of how you already look at life?
Junta Yamaguchi: The theme is exactly what you mentioned. When I was shooting this film, it was just before the COVID crisis. I don’t remember to what extent I was projecting my own life at that time, but now, after the COVID crisis, it seems that I feel the theme of this film more strongly than before.
Kato is a middle-aged shop owner in Kyoto, Japan who lives above his cafe. He spends his free time playing in a local band and sometimes thinking about Megumi, the woman in the barbershop next door with whom Kato is infatuated. One evening, after closing up the cafe, Kato is in his room when suddenly he appears on his own computer screen. The Kato on the screen is using the computer from downstairs in the cafe and claims to be from two minutes in the future. Kato is understandably confused and skeptical, but things get really strange when he goes down to the cafe computer, sees himself sitting back in his room, and begins to deliver the same message he heard two minutes before. It’s not long before Kato’s friends discover the phenomenon – which they dub “Time TV” – and devise a plan to go beyond the infinite two minutes.
Available on VOD and digital January 25th, 2022.
For more information, head to Indiecan Entertainment’s official Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes website.
Thomas Manning is a member of the NCFCA and SEFCA, and also the co-host of the television show and radio program “Meet Me at the Movies.” He has served as a production assistant and voting member on the Film Selection Committee for the Real to Reel Film Festival. He is currently studying film, television, and English at Gardner-Webb University.
Categories: Filmmaker Interviews