Godzilla Filmmakers Teach Tokusatsu at Osaka University of Arts
Author: Daisuke Ishizuka
Special Thanks to Koichi Kawakita
Mr. Kazuki Omori was the director and screenwriter of GODZILLA vs BIOLLANTE (ゴジラVSビオランテ, Gojira tai Biorante, 1989) and GODZILLA vs KING GHIDORAH (ゴジラVSキングギドラ, Gojira tai Kingu Gidora, 1991). Now, he is a professor at Osaka University of Arts‘ Image/Picture department. In 2013, the University established a new “Tokusatsu” (traditional live-action special effects) course run by Mr. Omori. Developed by generations of filmmakers, Tokusatsu is now a part of Japanese culture that has included Godzilla and monster movies, hero franchises like Ultraman and Super Sentai, and big FX films.
Mr. Omori invited Mr. Koichi Kawakita to be a visiting scholar for the course. Mr.Kawakita was the Tokusatsu director of six films in the Heisei Godzilla series produced from 1989-1995. He often worked with Mr. Omori at that time.
Mr. Kawakita has lectured the class about the foundation and basic elements of Tokusatsu. He and Mr. Omori also supervised a Tokusatsu filming demonstration.
The course students built a raised set, and miniature buildings were transported from Tokyo to Osaka. Setting up the miniatures required an entire day. The next day, they filmed a fight scene using original superhero and monster characters, plus miniature helicopters and airplanes.
Their instructors’ purpose was to teach the students how much hard work it takes to film a Tokusatsu sequence that may run only a few minutes… all of preparation before filming, how much manpower is required to do put it all together. Even the suit actors were students, and they learned first-hand the difficulties of performing while wearing a monster suit.
The demonstration even included explosion effects. Both Mr. Omori and Mr. Kawakita wanted to teach the class how to properly work with potentially dangerous materials like the gunpowder used for filming.
I agree with Mr. Omori’s policy that young film creators should study about Tokusatsu. And I really envy the students because I also would like to learn about Tokusatsu from Mr. Kawakita at the University.
I hope that more young film creators develop Tokusatsu in the years to come.