Shinoda and Iwashita Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

The Movie Experience: Conversation with director Masahiro Shinoda and actress Shima Iwashita; 2/27/99 by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

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Advice to Students

One final question to both of you. What would you advise students about preparing for a career in the movies as an actress and as a director? How should they prepare and what is the responsibility of the role?

It's very hard to answer, but I would say perhaps luck, fate, destiny, karma. No matter how well one might be able to sing or dance or how beautiful one is, I think something else comes into play. I am a person who didn't want to become an actress at all. But the fact that I ended up being an actress indicates to me that there is something of destiny involved. So I don't think it is something that you can study to become.

When I became a director -- this is in the 1950s and the 1960s -- there was a certain course that one could follow. When I started out in the film business, directors like Yasujiro Ozu and Keisuke Kinoshita were directors. Fellow assistant directors were Shohei Imamura and Nagisa Oshima and others. So we took examinations, passed the exams and entered the studio and became assistant directors and were trained to make movies. And some of us became directors as a result of that. Shinoda But it's very difficult for me to answer how one becomes a director nowadays. In those days when I started out, there was a lot of cash and a system that could handle the development of talent and training. So I must be one of the last of the old generation that had this old kind of studio training. Now the newer directors like Takeshi Kitano and Juzo Itami are former actors and Toshiyuki Suo [sic; should be Masayuki Suo] started off as an assistant directing soft-porn movies. So the ones becoming directors now are not necessarily receiving this elite education on how to become directors under the studio system. So one thing I can say is either to look at films very carefully, watch a lot of films, or don't see any films at all. [In English:] Just imagine!

Thank you very much. It was a great honor to have you both participate in this interview.

© Copyright 1999, Regents of the University of California

To the Conversations with History

See the Globetrotter Research Gallery Movies and the Imagination, which includes links to other filmmakers.