TAKING THE WHEEL: A Word With Filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake
Japanese cinema is one of the most adoring caveats of sharing film discussions, and director Kurando Mitsutake is a highly welcome subject matter in that regard.
I first read about him back in 2014 or so while reading a piece Twitchfilm (before the site rebranded as Screen Anarchy) promoting his blood-coated sexy assassin thriller, Gun Woman, and… well, I started jonesin’! It was a film that spoke inherently to a lot of my interests in Asian films in the early 2000s – the halcyon days of an otherwise ostracized college dropout then working for his dad, and least had enough money to spoil himself with DVDs at the Manhanttan Mall’s Suncoast outlet.
It’s been maybe six years since then and having eventually seen Gun Woman, and ultimately keeping up with Mitsutake’s craft on my young little niche site during its time on Google’s Blogspot platform. And yep, he’s still at it with another two projects on the way after his 2016 martial arts thriller, Karate Kill, now following with an ambitious trailblazing move toward Japanese Giallo in Maniac Driver.
He’s already unveiled some stills online since filming last year, and ultimately, my goal had always been to share questions with him about his work, even before Karate Kill, to be honest. Welp, I got down to it late last year and contacted him, and he’s been a busy bee since. He explains why in our Q&A below, in addition to sharing a few tidbits and like-minded bullet facts about his work, inspirations and opinions about the current state of the film industry – the latter which should stimulate some thought given the rise of streaming service and the digital age. It’s thought provoking, to say the least, and I think this is something our own Christina Ortega Phillips will take a liking to.
Thanks for joining this Q&A with me Kurando. I hope your transition into 2020 is going smoothly.
Thank you Lee for this opportunity. You originally asked me to participate on this interview back in late December of 2019. At that time I was swamped with rewrites for my movie, #6, which was slated to be shot in May of 2020, so I asked you to wait a bit for me to be able to sit down with this interview. Then the Coronavirus hit the world. And here we are at the end of March 2020, I finally got some time to do the interview. It all feels so surreal now. So to answer your question, yes, 2020 was going great until February and the shit hit the fan in March.
I definitely want to get into Maniac Driver a bit with you, but just to acquaint with readers, tell us about yourself and your progression into acting and directing.
I’m a film director originally from Tokyo, Japan, currently based in Los Angeles, California. My filmography includes SAMURAI AVENGER: THE BLIND WOLF (’08), GUN WOMAN (’14) and KARATE KILL (’16).
Years ago, my actor friend told me that his agent was looking for someone like me to represent. So I went to see his agent and got signed on. This is very rare thing. Many of my actor friends are struggling to get representations. Then the agent sent me out to a commercial audition for Nokia. I got the part – maybe with the beginner’s luck. The commercial was an union shoot so I had to join Screen Actors Guild. Now again, this is very rare. I know many actors struggle many year to join SAG.
So I started to think I better take this seriously. Then I got a part in UGLY BETTY season one, episode four, and HEROES season two, episode two and six. But after that I wanted to focus on my directing career so I haven’t acted since SAMURAI AVENGER. Maybe after this Coronavirus disaster is over, I might act again though. We will see.