I believe it was the director Tom Gormican, who once said that focus on features enough and you just might end up in Japan. Of course I had no idea what that meant, while I was busy with That Awkward Moment and had no idea what a feature film was anyway. Then years later, I did end up in Japan giving a presentation about making films to a audience that didn’t know much English. Amongst the many, many fun trips I have had. Japan is right there on the golden book of mostly precious and even awkward moments in my life. In some ways, it was the pinnacle of my career which is now nothing but a shadow of the achievements I made back then. In a way that is a really good thing, because at least I can look back and think that those were the days. That’s the whole point of making movies, isn’t it. To which the answer goes – “Oh yeah.” and nothing more.
Sakura was blooming and the fresh spring air was in my head. Moving through the streets, thinking I was something big. Indeed I had finally made it and people were willing to listen to the famous ‘Renan‘ guy which was difficult to pronounce for the Japanese. Probably it had something to do with the fact that l and r are pronounced the same, which is some weird pronunciation I have no idea off up until today. Anyway, Japan is filled with big companies and one of them include the famous Amazon online franchise. This electronic commerce heaven there is simply known as Amazon Japan which came and took the country by storm. Being utterly American as I am, it simply woke up my curiosity. As well as having the huge funding that I did back then, making a huge purchases to my hotel room was definitely not a problem in any way. On the contrary, I felt like I was obligated to spend some because after all that ‘some’ that had been created was largely thanks to me. So I went on my laptop and typed www.amazon.co.jp and was astonished.
Of course my intial response also had something to do with the fact that the site was completely in Japanese. There was a button that said English on the page, but hitting it would do nothing. I thought that this is some kind of a curse for foreigners who want to come to the country to purchase all their wonderful goods. I wouldn’t have any of that and became even more determined to pass through this portal of strange Japanese goods. There must be something very precious hidden inside and that’s why I have difficulties accessing the website was what I thought at the time. But there is was, like a blessing from the sky: “Amazon JP English” it was titled and instructed me to make purchases with Amazon Japan in the most wonderful language of English. Well known amongst the Americans who can hardly speak if of course. Well, after finding the right link I was in and registered to the service. But then, the how to article further even guided me to translate the whole site, including product descriptions. Now this was wonderful and I couldn’t wait to get started before my meetings were due in central Tokyo.
This incident had the resources for another charming comedy as I started ordering anything that looked interesting. From technological gadgets that I had no idea what they did, to comic animation figurines. I ended up with a suitcase filled, of stuff that I was not so sure if I really wanted. It got me thinking about how modern society is filled with mindless consumerism and how Amazon is a huge part of that. Or wait a minute! Perhaps I was one of the very important parts in this puzzle, perhaps I was contributing to the fact that this world was full of useless stuff. Even better, I could make my next movie out of it, in classic comedy style but with a subject that touches us all dearly. It’s that empty feeling inside of us that wants to be filled with goods. Yet no matter how much you fill it with possessions, that feeling never goes away.
So it’s not just the evil construction of society but us who are acting out to a problem with the wrong solution. Which is not a permanent solution at any rate. It is something totally temporary and a loosing battle. This “loosing dilemma” would make a fantastic full length feature film, which of course could be filled with awkward moments. The ideas are just coming in, how I can turn this industry to work for ourselves. Helping ourselves help ourselves. Now that would be a dream and having mindlessly shopped at Amazon in Japan, I have first hand experience. And if it weren’t for the JP Amazon guide in English, I probably would never had this experience.
So whoever you ‘Elf‘ guy are, thanks so much for the brilliant idea!