The Dark Side of Japan


Creative production studio abstract:groove have put together a gorgeous looking promo for Yamaha, exploring The Dark Side of JapanThrough films we’ve all seen that underworld of tattooed yakuza, kanji written in neon lights, and street noodles.  If you’ve ever been to Japan you know that world isn’t quite so easy to find.  But lurking somewhere beneath the pristine streets of Tokyo, or behind the backdoor of some pachinko parlor that dark place must and does indeed exist.  Luigi Pane and his crew set out to find and capture that world on camera.  We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to interview the director, Luigi Pane, for JawboneTV.

See the video below:

Client: YAMAHA Europe
Agency: DLV BBDO Milano

Production Company: abstr^ct:groove
Director: Luigi Pane
Music: Rise of the Kaiju (Franky B aka Crypric Monkey)


JBTV – First, I would like to say the short looks beautiful.  What camera did you use to film it?

LUIGI – Thanks, I’m very happy to hear that the film looks beautiful. We mainly used Red Epic but we filmed some shots with Canon 5D. Luca Fantini (DOP) did a great work, trying to catch the Tokyo spontaneus nocturnal atmosphere and lighting, limiting additional lights to the essential. Diego Indraccolo (photographer) helped us “stealing” some great shots with 5D.

With Red Epic we used a Carl Zeiss 8 mm lens for some extremely wide shots. That lens was perfect for the wild perspectives that Tokyo offered to our eyes.


JBTV – Where there any production challenges about shooting in Japan?

LUIGI – Naturally. But me and Giada (abstr^ct:groove‘s executive producer) arrived in Tokyo one week before, trying to study the atmosphere, the mood, walking day and night around the streets in the neighborhoods we had chosen for the shooting. Visiting clubs, talking with street dancers, and making test shots with 5D.

At the beginning it seemed to be hard to find this “dark side” we were looking for.


Photo by Diego Indraccolo

Tokyo is a very bright city. At first I felt like we were in a sort of giant playmobil city. It’s almost impossible to feel you are in danger in Tokyo. Japanese people are very respectful, smart and adorable. At a first look we were like: “Where is this dark side of Japan?”. But when the sun falls down and the lights of the night start to take possession of the streets  it’s easy to have visions and to imagine a wild futuristic atmosphere. Visually Tokyo is very powerful and extremely sexy.  


Photo by Diego Indraccolo

JBTV – Any “lost in translation” moments, on or off the set?

LUIGI – Yes, ahahah… Sometimes It was very hard for us to transmit to the people there what kind of aesthetic and mood we where looking for. The perception of Japan that Europeans have in mind is sometimes completely different from what Japanese people have. But this was a very interesting part of the creative process. I can honestly say that I loved these moments.


Photo by Diego Indraccolo

JBTV – How much of the shoot was improvised, or was it all very structured an planned out?

LUIGI – I wrote a precise treatment, imagining all of the shots and we had, of course, a very structured plan. But after a couple of days in Tokyo we started to have so many additional visions. We also did a lot of improvisation, and the city itself gave us many suggestions.

We shot an incredible amount of extra material, it was impossible to limitate the shots to the script, we were like kids in Disneyworld! There were so many beautiful images in front of our eyes and we had a lot of fun while shooting. The selection process was pretty hard but I was mentally prepared to come back in studio with a bunch of material. At the end the final edit was not so different from the treatment, but some of the ideas I cut down in the final edit were not written or calculated. Let’s say that it’s always like this, but in Tokyo it’s maybe a little bit more… ahahah  


Photo by Diego Indraccolo

JBTV – Where there any particular inspirations for the project?  Any other films that were used as reference?

LUIGI – To be honest I trIed to not watch Japanese movies or movies about Tokyo during the pre-production period even if the temptation was strong. Many inspirations of course came from the anime world. Movies like Akira or Tekkonkinkreet are just some examples. Our generation grew up with japanese cartoons. When I was a child I loved anime series like Tiger Mask, Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, Muteking, or 70′s series like Koseidon, and many more. Then arrived at Ken Shiro… and when I grew up I started to love Akira Kurosawa filmography. Imagine taking all this influences and to mix it with european films and aesthetic. It sounds weird  but I was reading a book written by Andrei Tarkovsky during the production and it was probably one of my main inspirations.


Photo by Diego Indraccolo



To see more from abstract:groove stay tuned to their facebook page here.