Is "SIX WEEKS" enough for people to change their life?
Thirty young Japanese are about to take part in the casting selection for a Japan-U.S. co-production film.
They all fight, compete, betray and trust. But before two finalist are chosen,they are required to fully reveal their most vulnerable place in their hearts.
What they've come across with after "SIX WEEKS" ?
6 Weeks' audition-director instructs the three pairs of actors to invent a two minute scenario where they must make or do something for someone important to them. They may draw from experience or rely on fiction. The actors find themselves embroiled in improvisation so intense, at times neither the audience nor the players know which is which. Unwittingly, the actors' unprepared emotions come into play to show that they weren't acting.
Well-known character actor Toshi Shioya makes his directorial debut in an engaging and highly charged drama within a drama, set in the director's own real life Actor's Clinic in Tokyo. The race is on for thirty young, unknown actors as they attend the 6, weekly auditions that will ultimately decide who lands the two leading roles in a new Japan/ U.S movie. Through psychological self-exploration, the 6 actors' contrasting lives unfold before us in a fascinating interplay of friendship, rivalry and sexual tension.
The movie tackles the theme of youthful ambition in the face of steep odds. The characters face moral and practical choices at every stage of their involvement in the audition, the same choices young people must make in every walk of life. Ambition over duty. Passion over practicality. Friendship over rivalry.
The success with which the actors import such emotions into their audition performances will ultimately determine their success or failure at the hands of Hayakawa and on the grand stage of life.
"Private Moment" is the second production to come out of the well-regarded Tokyo Actor's Clinic, and it marks a first time directorial debut for character actor, Toshi Shioya. The first film, "Bounce KoGALS", depicted the lives and friendship of three modern-day young Tokyo "gals" and starred Hitomi Sato, Yukiko Okamoto and Yasue Sato. The film went out to great acclaim and garnered a number of awards both in Japan and overseas, particularly in Hong Kong where it enjoyed an unprecedented run. Soon to be released in Europe, "Bounce Ko GALS", is certain to gain even more recognition for the Actor's Clinic and the three charming female leads.
"6 Weeks -Private Moment-" has the dreams of the young as its theme. As they go through the auditions these young hopefuls are constantly faced with the triple dilemma of what they can do, what they should do and what they must discard in order to realize their dreams and attain the heights they are innately capable of.
The lead in "Private Moment" is played by the very popular Chiharu Niiyama, well-known from her series of 7-11 commercials, and as the subject of a highly successful photo-essay book. Niiyama plays alongside Tatsuki Shimada, an up and coming actor gracing the silver screen for the first time. For many others in the cast this is also their first foray in the movies and we can expect to see much more of them, particularly the captivating Orie Tasaki who plays Natsuki.
Accolades must also go to prize-winning director of photography, Yoshinao Sakamoto, who effortlessly manages to capture perfectly both the gritty and the tender "moments" that all these young actors are striving to achieve.
Significance of a "Private Moment".
The underlying theme in Shioya's film is that anyone who continually strives to achieve their best will have both the energy and the spirit to grasp their dream. If an actor delves deeply into the emotion of his or her own "private moment", they will be capable of enduring any hardship and in so doing they will touch the hearts of their audience .
A "Private Moment" is one highly effective tool in teaching the craft of acting. Actors visualize a real-life episode to bring up memories that stimulate their feelings to the point where emotion and acting combine into a powerful dramatic sequence, a private moment.
Auditioning the young hopefuls is Hayakawa, (played by Shioya himself), a casting director who insists his actors channel their real life experiences into emotions that are then captured by the camera. Simply pretending to use such emotions, Hayakawa maintains, is not enough to convince the actors themselves, let alone hold an audience.
At an early audition Akira Yuki, (Chiharu Niiyama, of the 7-11 TV commercials) a young, up and coming starlet, and sole celebrity at the audition, is given one minute to fold as many origami as she can. Hayakawa repeats the exercise but this time Akira is rewarded for improving her performance. Raising the stakes for the actress a second time, the director makes it clear how deeply he expects his actors to look inside themselves, "Akira, your mother has breast cancer. You want to show her ten folded origami before her operation. This may be the last thing you do for her...imagine it, imagine her there."
Akira is partnered at the auditions by Shunya (Tatsuki Shimada), a relatively unknown actor who, during a clandestine visit to a closed amusement park, realizes his great affection for the young star. The "starlet meets man-in-the-street" scenario of 6 Weeks, as in Julia Roberts' new movie, Notting Hill, shows us how problematic it can be for the celebrated and the unknown to interrelate. A subsequent scandal, involving Akira and the casting director, threatens to destroy both the harmony of Hayakawa's audition process and the budding love story at the core of the drama.
Also charting a romantic journey through the tense audition period are Tetsuro, a drug-dealing high school dropout, and Natsuki, a capable, but as yet, unsuccessful actress. They dream of being cast together for the movie as the audition reaches its fourth week with just ten hopefuls remaining.
Together with the other remaining contenders, Osugi, a reluctant policeman, and Mio, a senior high school student, the 6 actors face mounting tension as the 6 weeks draw to a close. The movie must be cast but who has shown enough of their deep inner psyche to casting director Hayakawa?
As the owner of an acting school I am surrounded by the great dramatic energy and ideas of young actors every day. In 1997 I joined three of these actors in the development of a movie called Bounce which went on to win several Best Beginner prizes at .... festivals(?)
I was encouraged and felt that even unknown film-makers can make movies with a wide appeal.
Another of my students, a bright, affable and popular young man, failed to show up for class one week even though he had clearly expressed his intention to do so. He had been killed in a car accident. His friends were deeply saddened and overwhelmed at the news, leaving me with an unforgettable image of their loss. They carried on with their class showing bravery in doing so.
I had many ideas I wanted to convey when I started making this movie. As a student I had been an athlete and now wanted to write a story based on a runner, instilling a sense of pace and urgency in the character of Shunya. üâI used to surpass a jogger who passed over me, but recently I don't do so because I know the fact that there should be young people who surpass me. I wanted to make a story showing youth's brilliance inspite their completeness as a man. People can devote themselves to what they like.üä
How far can anyone claim to believe in themselves absolutely? To pursue a goal in the face of mounting adversity?
I wanted my story to plot man's struggle right through to the realisation of his dream. The structure of 6 Weeks is simple and the story of an audition is universally identifiable.
Music is an important element of film and I picked up on the suitability of Dragonash to my film last summer, before they had started to become popular. Today their songs are being used to accompany a popular TV series and they are enjoying chart success. The music lends itself well to the movie and has gained a good response from cinema audiences.
We shot the film between Feb 10 and Feb 25, with one day lost due to snow. An annoyance, but the students seemed to enjoy it. Rehearsals were started two months prior to filming and during this time I completed the script.
The film portrays a group of young people in audition for a film. The characters are based on the actors themselves and each of them contributes to the other's growth as an actor. The dilligence each actor employed towards his role created the sense of realism I was looking for, and helped me make it like a documentary. Our cinematographer, Yoshinao Sakamoto, gave the movie itsüâsense of liveüä
In putting the idea for 6 Weeks together I read the reports of my school's young actors. Having lived through a variety of experiences they had discovered their dream in life was to become actors. We live in an age when anyone can have any dream. By becoming the director of this film I myself have realised a great dream.
This movie conveys the message that with the energy of youth and the sense of boundless possibility of this age, achieving one's dream is something to strive for. It will be thoroughly rewarding for me if you feel the impetus to do just that after watching this film.
-Toshi SHIOYA, Director
Actor & Director
Born August 5th, 1956 in Oita Prefecture, Japan
- 1988 TOKYO POP (SHOCHIKU FUJI)
- 1990 BLOOD OATH (WARNER VILLAGE ROADSHOW)
- 1992 Mr. BASEBALL (MCA)
- 1993 SAMAYOERU NOUZUI (TOEI)
- 1994 47 NIN NO SHIKAKU (TOEI)
- 1994 KAMIKAZE TAXI (PONY CANYON)
- 1995 TROUBLE-SHOOTERS (BANDAI VISUALS)
- 1995 HOTEL SHANGHAI
- 1995 GAIJIN
- 1996 PRESIDENT'S CHRISTMAS TREE (SHOCHIKU)
- 1997 TURI BAKA NISSHI (SHOCHIKU)
- 1997 BOUNCE (HORIPRO)
- 1998 'hood
- 1998 TURI BAKA NISSHI (SHOCHIKU)
- 1989 GINGER TREE
- 1992 UMINO YUBAE
1989 INDIAN WANTS THE BRONX
- 1982 ALICE IN WONDERLAND
- 1983 FLOWER OF ALGERNON
- 1988 STRARSHINE
-PRODUCING & DIRECTING-
- 1997 BOUNCE (Planner)
- 1998 ICHIGEN SAN (Producer)
- 1999 6 WEEKS -Private Moment- (Director)
Chiharu Niiyama as Akira Yuki
Since she won Special Award at Horipro Talent Scout Caravan in 1995, out of 43,723 contenders, Chiharu Niiyama started her career as Commercial Films, TV Drama, Magazines and Feature Films. 6 WEEKS is her 2nd film to be one of lead acting rolls. You find spontaneous improvement of her way of acting through the character.
Tatsuki Shimada as Shunya Sawada
"During my first acting role I realised there was a big difference between what I'd imagined acting to be like and the reality of how it was. I couldn't get a part I really wanted to play and as I saw other actors landing better roles I lost direction, and quit." After a year away from performance Shimada realized how passionate he was to continue.
"I began to understand jobs in this profession start to come slowly, and it was at this time a friend told me about the actor's clinic." 6 Weeks does two things for me. It shows how well an actor uses his partner and whether he is fulfilling the true purpose of his role."
Tomoki Mukai as Masayoshi Osugi
Born in Tokyo, 1971, he experienced with more than 12 TV dramas.
He also appears BOUNCE directed by Masato Harada.
Aoi Inoue as Mio Ogura
"Of the 6 main characters, I play the girl we see living her everyday life. That seems easy but to avoid the character becoming mundane I had to think seriously about how I played her."
Before attending the Actor's Clinic Inoue performed scenarios without adding her own interpretation. "I didn't fill myself with emotion, I just laughed and cried to follow the surface of the character's feeling."
Tomoyuki Otsuka as Tetsuro Takagi
"It was hard for me to distinguish my character from myself in many ways.
His instincts are the same as mine except the way he always manages to avoid the things he doesn't want to do. But the main parallel between us is our difficulty communicating with others so I simply followed my instincts and played the scenes as I would live them in real life. 6 Weeks demonstrated to me that as an actor, many unexpected feelings are evoked as you live life through your part."
Orie Tasaki as Natsuki Morishita
"At first, I thought it was important to act in a naturalistic way, and not in a solely technical and choreographed way. But I found this very difficult. It was hard for me to express myself freely because the camera restricts the limits of head and body movement. To express myself within these confines I realised I needed a far more skilled acting technique. 6 Weeks illustrates the need for an actor to avoid drawing on feelings or memories that still trouble him."
- Executive Producers:
Presented by Victor Entertainment and Horipro