Since I was already at the Enzian, I decided to see the film following Think of Me, which was Dog Years. I run into LanceAround and NumberOneSon who had just come from the Filmmaker’s Forum. LanceAround jokes with 2 filmmaker’s sitting directly behind us about them convincing him to see their film. I grab a quick picture with them before the movie starts.
Dog Years is about 2 half-brothers, Elliot and Ben, living in Tokyo and struggling through all the cultural changes they face. Elliot is an emotional wreck. His dog dies, he breaks up with his girlfriend, resents his father, mourns the loss of his mother and is all alone. I like the message I got from the film which is that through thick and thin, your family will always be there for you. However, I thought the acting wasn’t the greatest, and even annoying at points. Yet the film did keep me entertained and laughing, which is always a plus. The lighting and sound were not consistent throughout the film, which makes sense once we get to the Q & A with the directors.
Turns out, the 2 guys LanceAround was speaking about were directors, writers, actors and producers Warren Sroka and Brent Willis of Dog Years. They co-wrote, co-stared, and directed the film. They meet 12 years ago at theatre school. Warren explained how the film came about. “Brent’s folks lived in Tokyo and we had 6 months to write, shot, and film before his parents moved back to the states,” he said. He went on to explain that there were only 4 people who worked on the film, which explained the inconsistency I was seeing. Warren said they did pick up a fifth crew member in Japan, Masaki Sekine, who starred and translated for them. He also pointed out that Brent’s actual mother played his fictitious mother in the movie.
Dan Addelson, one of the four crew, was in charge of editing the film. He said they had “over 40 hours of footage which took over a year to edit. We shot from the moment we got up until we went to sleep. We wanted to get as much as we could,” Dan said.
Brent said the Japanese were “sticklers when it came to rules. Sometimes we worked with them, sometimes we worked around them.” He explained they are both youngest brothers and that he finds “it’s tough to analyze your own work.”
Warren did most of the talking, as in the film, and stated “we did some improvising, other than that, we stuck to the script.” He explained “we didn’t have any money going into it.” They ended up spending just $11,000 on the shoot and $4,000 for post-production. “We broke one light bulb, an expensive one, and one microphone,” he said.
This film wasn’t my favorite, but was by far better than half the films I’ve already seen. I loved the fact they filmed in Japan. As someone who has been there previously, they did a great job depicting the beauty Japan has to offer. It also doesn’t hurt that they thanked every single person they talked to about coming to see their film and were just extremely nice people.