Nov 28

Q&A with Director Hiroshi Katagiri (“GEHENNA: Where Death Lives”)


By David Reilling (Nagano, ALT) and Eden Law (Fukushima, ALT). David hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and now lives on the Central Coast, Sydney in Australia. Eden is also from Sydney (via Malaysia). The interview questions were done by David, while Eden is the editor and did the write-up for this article.

Got thigh gap?

That’s a killer diet.

Here in Sydney we do love our film festivals, ranging from the grand Sydney Film Festival, to numerous language, cultural or country-based film programmes like the Japanese Film Festival (also grand), documentaries (Antenna) and short films (Tropfest). Horror and sci-fi gets to shine at the combined ‘A Night of Horror’ and ‘Fantastic Planet’ festival. This is also where director Hiroshi Katagiri gets to shine, with his debut film ‘GEHENNA: Where Death Lives’, after working in the industry as a special effects and makeup artist, sculptor and creature-creator (his impressive IMDB page lists some well-known entries like Wolverine, Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, Looper). He also lists his favourite films in the genre as ‘Zathura’ and ‘Cabin in the Woods’, giving you an idea of the influences in his film.

‘GEHENNA’ follows five people scouting for locations to build a spanking brand new resort, and while on a secluded island paradise, stumble across an abandoned Japanese WWII bunker, and decides to go exploring. As you can imagine, this is a Really Bad Idea – check out the trailer below.

We had a quick correspondence with Hiroshi as part of the promotion for film.

Your bio says you “moved to the US at age 18 to pursue a career in special makeup effects.” How did you start a career in special effects?
Basically I had build my portfolio and use that to approach make-up FX studios. That was in 1991 and it was kind of a new industry and… work and entry level [positions] were very low. I still feel I was so fortunate.

What was the most difficult special effects thing you ever made?
Dead mermaids for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tide.’ Not technically difficult but I only had 7 weeks from start to finish to build 3 full body silicon mermaids. That was insane.

You directed the movie Gehenna: Where Death Lives. You also wrote it and did the special make-up effects. How was it? How long did it take? Tell us about it.
For the writing, I was writing as I’m thinking, “How do I make this?”. Since I know what exactly I can do, that really helped on writing… Doing make up FX myself is the best way to save money and keep quality. If I hire someone for this quality of FX, it will cost. It is not easy but I needed to do it. If there’s enough budget, I wouldn’t do the FX myself. I started doing make-up FX about 5 months before start of filming.

Why did you choose Saipan [location of the film]?
I was looking to the location where Japan and America fought. Saipan just came up to my mind first.

What challenges did you have filming there?
Biggest challenge was the weather. We avoided the rainy season but there were rainstorms. On first day of shoot, we had 5-6 showers between. That was scary. I had to modify camera angles to hide wet ground.

Will you direct a movie again?
Of course I will!

Will you make a movie in Australia?
Sure I’d love to! I’m a huge fan of Mad Max!!


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