The director of A House of the Demon talks about her vision of hell on Earth and unexplained phenomenon that she has experienced during filming in Izu Gokurakuen in Japan.
What attracted you to the Searching for Hell project? How different was working on the Searching for Hell film for you personally from your previous films?
I was attracted to this project because of its grand scope, having such a diverse group of filmmakers from across the globe. I also feel that fate led me to participate in this project, to visit Izu Gokurakuen, to meet Blue Demon, the owner of the museum. I felt a strong tie with him from day one, feeling like I’ve known him for a long time.
The topic of “hell” excited me and led me down a road that I have never been. This documentary was so different from my previous ones. I was invited to participate. The topic was pre-determined and the story direction was already set. I literally had to dive in and discover the space, so to speak. I was also thrilled to step outside of traditional television documentary for the first time.
The subject of Hell is very universal. What’s your personal definition of Hell in our contemporary world? How would you define it?
In Buddhism, hell in the afterlife is presented as a place of eternal torment, but I believe that hell exists in this present world in the shape of war, crime, poverty and disease. Hell is also something that exists within each one of us. Hell is our anger, our cruelty, our pain, our frustration, our sorrow…hell is something that impedes our progress.
What do you see as the most important message that your film carries? What would you like to pass on to the audience?
Simply think about your past and consider your future (the possibilities are all laid out for you in the House of the Blue Demon) and decide which direction you will take so that you are satisfied, ultimately. The choice is yours. It’s not only about what is right or wrong. It’s about what you are willing to do and what you believe in.
Most importantly, take a trip to Izu Gokurakuen! It’s a very exciting and mysterious place to visit. I bet that you will find something very interesting there.
What was the biggest challenge in shooting Searching For Hell and what surprised you most during the creation of the film?
We were asked to make a character-driven film without any narration. The fact that my main character, Blue Demon, is extremely shy and had never allowed any directors to interview him on camera before this documentary was pretty challenging. Guess what? I found a way to chat with him and got a world exclusive interview on camera! Then, something odd happened.
On the last day of shooting in Izu Gokurakuen, the camera, mounted on the tripod, started moving completely on its own; while we were filming Blue Demon’s creation, Enma Daio, the great King of the Buddhist Hades. Those smooth 45 degree pans were very impressive, albeit haunting! Me and the crew are still puzzled by this.
What inspires you to create documentaries?
Documentaries are works of non-fiction. As a filmmaker, it is my responsibility to bring the genuine truth to the audience within a limited amount of time. My inspiration for producing documentaries is the incredible people I encounter who may help me grow beyond my limitations. I truly cherish those amazing connections. They are the best reward I receive for my efforts.
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