Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Hello, my name is Themistoclis Alexandre Kosmakis, I am a French expatriate of Greek origin who has been living in Japan for the past ten years. I will be 40 years old this summer.
I started trying to build stories with video support after I stopped a professional career in inline skating. I was 19 years old.
My first shoot was a feature film combining live action and animation, inspired by Asian artists from the world of Manga, music, Hong Kong cinema, animation and video games, which had rocked my childhood.
I am a great lover of drawing, animation and martial arts. Becoming a director has allowed me to fully invest myself in all these fields at the same time.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?
The film for which you rewarded me was not easy to produce despite the small number of actors and the non-existent technical team.
It was shot over about full a month, in the middle of winter, directly in the forests of Mount Fuji. So in the cold and in high altitude!
I think the biggest handicap is the fact that I couldn't take the sound with an external microphone, so I had to redo all the voices and sound effects. It took me a lot of time in post production.
I also had to produce the avalanche of rocks at the end of the film myself. I really like animation and 3d, but the combination of the three remains a big challenge, no matter what the project is. I greatly admire all those who take on this path for bigger project that our!
The composition of the music, but as for any artist, was I think a work claiming a lot of energy and investment. It is my mother on the guitar, a soundtrack recorded at home without a studio, and a bone disease that came to poison her on the last weeks of work.
As many others people, this is a film shot with friends and family, without a budget, over a relatively long time. It was therefore very difficult to take someone from outside the team for such a long time, who would have followed us from morning to night without interruption.
I regularly have to make this choice of economy of means and optimization of shooting time because in Japan the days are short!
It is not complaining to tell these facts that we all know, a very large number of director and team go through during an artistic project. A film will remain a slice of life.
We lived incredible moments, took risks sometimes not very measured but with a happy outcome as during the shooting of the sled which falls in the steep slope! Our bodies still remember it.
A shooting with a big physical challenge yes, and a very good memory.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
Great stories, no matter the theme, are the ones that feed me and my imagination.
Overall, I would like to continue writing and directing projects that claim to be more entertainment, and when a more realistic idea, whether social or political, comes to me, I'll look into it for a while, as a parenthesis.
This is my ideal right now.
5 of the next films whose shootings have already been completed concern entertainment projects, the 6th and 7th which will be shot between autumn 2022 and summer 2024 concern subjects that can be considered close to "a whisper in the Crystal".
This is about the ratio of my independent productions. 1 film out of 5 is about a subject considered as social and realistic.
Now, to answer your question precisely, no matter what the subject is, I wish to infuse in each of them what make our great values and positive human feelings:
Love, friendship, courage, humor, joy, family, rhythm, empathy, compassion, forgiveness... While reminding us that nothing is easy, so not hiding that life brings its share of barriers that can arise. If I have one big message through what I try to do, it is to overcome these barriers whatever they are.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
Many of my entertainment projects come from dreams! I wake up one morning and everything is there, it's very convenient!
As for the more social projects, like many writers and directors I think, I just have to look in my life and around me. The world is teeming with ideas, old, contemporary and new, you just have to bend down to pick them up.
Technically, I have a methodical view of things.
My project preparations consist of first writing a global summary of the idea, then making a relatively detailed plan that can go as far as writing the scenario in the manner of a traditional book. Then in most cases I write what is called a script in the most academic way possible.
Often we prepare the music in parallel with the writing, as well as the casting.
For some projects I prefer to write a role in direct relation with the person who will play it. If I know this person, it's even better to understand what will be possible to do or not, and to imagine how to overcome the limits of all of us.
I also make a clear distinction between projects that can be done independently for less than $5000 and those that are intended for professional, budgeted productions.
My way of approaching and writing become almost opposite.
In one case I write according to what we can actually do, including technical challenges that I haven't worked on yet.
In the other case, I don't ask myself the question of technical or financial means, and let my imagination run free, without any limit. These are the scripts that are the most interesting for me and that I hope to be able to make discover one day to the greatest number of people.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
The various creations of all these artists!
Akira Toriyama, Riku Sanjo, Rumiko Takahashi, Joe Hisaishi, Yoko Shimamura, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Seiji Yokoyama, Hayao Miyazaki, Shingo Araki, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Hideo Kojima, for the main ones. Akira Kurosawa, Takeshi Kitano and Kinji Fukasaku were the only Japanese movie directors I knew when I started.
On the Western side: Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Georges Luccas, Robert Zemeckis, the Scott brothers, Les Inconnues, Le Splendid, Terry Gilliam, James Cameron, The Wachowski, Joe Dante, Michael Landon, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, Night Shyamalan, John Williams, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, Hanz Zimmer, Klaus Badelt, Ramin Djawadi...
It is much later that I widened my references, especially on the side of the authors and the independent directors from all over the world: Kim Tae-Gyun (Volcano High), Park Chan-wook (Old Boy), Takashi Miike (Crow Zero), Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) and many others over time.
So I have to admit that at the beginning I was more influenced by video games / comics and anime creators, rather than by books or movies:
Dragon Ball, Ranma 1/2, Galaxy Express 999, Dragon Quest Dai no Daibouken, Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, Zelda 3, Another Worl, Flash Back, Seiken Densetsu, Metal Gear Solid Snake...
The movies that made me want to go to the movies are the American classics of the 80s and 90s: Gremlins, Alien, Terminator, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and especially Matrix.
Jackie Chan and Samo Hung films are also at the origin of my ambitions in this art. Drunken Master 2 was the best for me.
Not forgetting Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer), who is the one who inspired me the most, still to this day.
However today I enjoy and can find inspiration from a much wider spectrum of authors, directors and artistic projects from all fields: Marvel Production to Gagarine (Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh), by way of Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross),Netflix series to YouTube Podcast...
The proposal is getting wider and wider and I think it's great.
I can say today that my inspirations can potentially come from anywhere, anyone. We are living in the golden age of sharing.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
From my point of view, Covid-19 has not disturbed the so-called "industry". Many films have been released in the last 2 years, the world has adapted.
Concerning the independent productions, the main effect of Covid-19 concerns the international travel possibilities. I was deprived of it for one of our projects last year, but Japan now allows to contract the artists who would travel here. We are currently looking into this so that we can continue to move forward on this path when we need to bring in outside people.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
Believe in yourself, believe in others, don't leave any ideas only in your thoughts. What will make the difference between a dream and a reality is the moment when the idea in the dream is written in the reality. This is the only possible starting point.
I don't believe in showing everything of our work when we are not satisfied with it. Everything in its own time. However, we must be careful not to become eternally dissatisfied. You have to create a method of looking back on yourself, dissociating what you love above all else from what is objectively viable.
Knowing how to talk to others, knowing how to convince without false promises, knowing how to live together.
To be patient, persevering and not to be discouraged by the first door that closes or the first project that fails.
Don't let anyone tell you: «you can't do it». Maybe he can't, but you can.
Remember that health and real life take precedence over everything else. Build your life first, or make sure that this creative path allows you to consolidate your own life in a concrete way.
More than anything: have fun!!!
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
If films and stories can directly change people, then those people can change the world.
Unfortunately, reality shows that this medium creates more consumers than vocations.
There is work to be done in order to balance this fact.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
I think people look at everything. We're talking about a pandemic that's only two years old, we'll talk about its real influence in 2030, when everything finally reopens. What, that's too long?
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
As I wrote above, several projects will arrive in the next few months. The ones already shot concern stories similar to contemporary fantasy tales, mixing real images and animation. I attach you some screenshot of its.
I'm also attaching the trailer of the next short film I'm going to release next winter.