This is an Edited Translation from 2001 edition
of the ALC MAGAZINE
Edited by Yuriko Yamaki
Mr. Yasuaki Nakajima
Born 1972, Hokkaido, Japan. After graduating from high
school, Yas went to Tokyo, working during the day while
producing and directing claymation film in his apartment
at night. The film "HAND AND EGG" Color/8mm/15min, which
was screened at Tokyos famous Image Forum Film Festival.
While in Australia in 1994 on a working holiday, he
filmed his day-to-day hitchhiking adventure throughout
the country. The following year he traveled to New York
and London to studying acting, returning to New York again
in 1996, where continued his studies at the HB-Studio.
Yas started to produce and direct his first dramatic
feature film "AFTER THE APOCALYPSE" (Black & White/16mm)
in 1999. He currently works on post-production of the
Yass first connection to film occurred in junior
high school, as he was drawn to Jacky Changs attitude
towards filmmaking. Upon graduating high school, he felt
that he would not benefit from going to a university,
and worked several jobs before leaving bucolic Hokkaido
for the bright light and big city of Tokyo. It was a
time of economic prosperity in Japan, and he earned
enough as a high-rise window cleaner to support himself
while he studied film at weekend watching all night film
screening at the Bungeiza theatre in ikebukuro, Tokyo.
In search of experience, he bought a second-hand Super-8mm
film camera, developing a self-taught filmmaking style.
"I loved making animation, like when you use clay and
shoot frame by frame. Since you dont require an actor,
you can spend as much as you like on our work."
He submitted his work, "HAND AND EGG", to the Image Forum
Film Festival in Tokyo, where it was allowed to screen
after running a gauntlet of several judges. This inspired
Yas to make several other films. However, after 4 years of
life as a window cleaner by day and filmmaker at night,
he realized that he was not moving forward.
"I couldnt find places in Tokyo to show my films. Then
I wondered about showing my films overseas. When I thought
of my future, I realized I needed an overseas perspective.
In order to get that, I knew I needed to speak English,
so I quit my job and went to Australia for a working
Assigning himself a film project while in Australia,
Yas carried 50 cartridges of 8mm film in his backpack
and hitchhiked throughout the country for 6 months.
He documented his life and the landscape. The road movie
diary, "THE HITCHHIKER WITH A MOVIE CAMERA"
"I spoke no English, knew nobody, and felt like a ghost
in the desert--a person who just appeared out of nowhere
with no past. But I realized I needed to survive wherever
I was. I needed to find food, place to sleep, have sex
and make friends. I struggled because I couldn't speak t
he language, but I learned it is possible to connect with
people in other waysthrough their eyes and their body
But He wanted to progress farther in his English
abilities, and so pondered a trip to either the UK or
USA. Finally, inspired by the independent art movement
in New York he heard of from a friend, Yas picked that
"You need knowledge of acting to be a director. I had a
frustrating experience trying to direct an actor friend
of mine in Tokyo once, as I was not able to coax the
desired performance from an actors perspective."
Yas began to study acting in New York at the Lee
Strasberg Acting Institute. However, because he was only
visiting the USA a 90 days travel visa, he had to continue
his course of study at the London branch. Yas enjoyed
exploring the differences in the American and British
styles of acting, as well watching European films, but
New York was calling. After studying in London for a year,
he returned to New York (by way of Japan) as a student of
the City University of New York in Staten Island.
After one semester of arduous traveling to Staten Island
from his room in south Bronx, Yas transferred to the
Manhattan-based acting school, HB-Studio, in Greenwich
Village. For the next 2 1/2 years Yas acted in several
Studio, Independent and student films, running gamut from
extra to principal. He also worked as crew. During this
time Yas utilized his own difficult experience house
hunting in New York, while making the short "LOOKING FOR
A HOUSE" and followed that with the short thriller "RESTOOM"
which takes place in a New York mens room.
"Wed find actors through Back Stage. They would work
without pay if they liked the project. Its exciting
to make films in New York because there are so many
energetic and enthusiastic actors and crew."
These works were screened at the Brooklyn Film Festival,
a Soho art gallery, and other venues. Upon graduating
of acting school in 1999, Yas decided "to make a feature
length film with my ideas and my friends."
Low budget film productions cannot afford the expenses
of a set. The idea for "AFTER THE APOCALYPSE" came from
ruins in Brooklyn, which ultimately became the films
"The film is about five survivors trying to make sense
of New World after a devastating urban catastrophe
challenges all their human needs."
In his previous shorts, Yas drew themes and viewpoints
from his own life, but he did try to keep more objective
perspective for the making of "AFTER THE APOCALYPSE"
spending three targeted months in an improvisational
rehearsal process with his actors. Starting from the
idea of "expressing communication beyond speech" there
were no words.
"Foreign directors like myself pay a lot attention to
an actors behavior rather than how they speak their
English dialogue. Although the behavior may be silent,
I think its a universal language."
After many difficulties in finding a DP and new lead
actress, the film shot in 10 days of principal
photography and 2 days of re-shooting. Currently Yas
has been fielding suggestions from acquaintances with
screenings of the rough-cut while hunting down financing
for the sound and print processes.
Yas stresses the importance of the "Indies style" in
filmmaking. "It is not easy to clearly delineate the
line between the independents and studios now, but the
difference is in the spirit. Some people say a film in
which final-cut rights belong to the director is
independent. My favorite filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, was
an independent until his death."
Now that his practical training is finished and he has
returned to a student way of life, Yas has been interning
at a film production company. In order to develop his
acting skills, he is studying voice, mask, and mime, as
well as joining a theatre troupe. "To make a good film,
its important to write a good script and have someone
who will support you in your endeavors. I am learning
a lot through collaborating with other people since I
still developing my knowledge and skills."
We asked, "whats your goal?" as replied, "My dream is
to be like John Cassavettes. He succeeded as an actor
and kept on making films the way he wanted. If I could
do that, it would be great."