Yohan Forbes is a filmmaker based in the U.K., best-known for his 2009 film â€śProject One,â€ť a skateboard journey across the architectural landscape of London, a film that would go on to win â€śBest Filmâ€ť at the BFI Future Film Festival, be inducted into the national archives, headline a collection of transport films in Trafalgar square at the 53rd London Film Festival event â€śLondon Moves Me,â€ť and be featured in 30 film festivals across the globe. On the heels of that success, Yohan will soon be sharing with the world his second film â€śI, Everyday.â€ť Set in Shizuoka, Japan, it explores the relationship between two brothers, one of whom suffers from the Japanese phenomenon Hikikomori, a social disorder that causes young people to isolate themselves from their family and the outside world. GUTFIRE! recently posed some probing questions to Yohan, which he, in turn, was kind enough to answer.
Artistâ€™s website: www.kumo-kumofilms.blogspot.com
GUTFIRE!: Yohan, what is the most bizarre or unusual thing youâ€™ve ever filmed?
YOHAN: I was working as a sound recordist at the time and travelled to Berlin for work on a short. Most of the film was shot in a car; cameras placed on the bonnet, microphones and radio mics were positioned inside, leaving me located in the trunk monitoring and mixing the dialogue. During one stage of filming unknown to me, the car pulled up at a petrol station, the crew opened the trunk and I jumped out to survey my surroundings. The drivers filling their cars turned to see me pop out with headphones and sound mixer in hand. Some looked freaked out others bemused, we had a laugh.
GUTFIRE!: What drew you initially to filmmaking? How did you arrive at it as an art form?
YOHAN: I had a group of friends whose films I would act in; from there I figured I wanted to tell stories from behind the camera, you have greater control over the story that is being told. I took photography, media and film classes, days were spent at college editing on 16mm Steenbeck machines, finding loose bits of reels and collecting old bits of film. I ended up getting a role as a boom operator in a low budget gangster feature, there I got to see what happened on set, how the camera, lighting and sound departments operated. I continued to work on shorts, features, live events, documentaries and corporates. I also spent some time as a hire technician organizing and putting together production kits for television and commercial crews. Gaining knowledge and a professional insight into the industry enabled me to make â€śProject Oneâ€ť and â€śI, Everydayâ€ť and with future projects I hope to build on it as an art form.
GUTFIRE!: Your first film â€śProject Oneâ€ť was a more documentary approach to skateboarding. Your second film, â€śI, Everydayâ€ť appears to be a more narrative approach to a recently documented social phenomenon common to Japan. Do you see any similarity between these two themes and approaches, or are they completely different?
YOHAN: Both films had a great amount of research put into their subject matter. â€śProject Oneâ€ť has themes of architecture, landscape, exploration with the skateboard a vehicle for movement and interaction. Making the film involved travelling to skate spots, parks, roads, monuments and hidden alleys. The team spent a great deal of time on location photography and it helped me write Timâ€™s journey throughout the streets of London as he interacts within the cityâ€™s urban environment. At the production stage Tim and co-producer Tristan Tutak would arrive at the location and we would have a run through of tricks he would perform, leaving me to work out how to make the scene flow and keep the visual narrative going. It was a very organic and creative way of working with the talent and crew.
In â€śI, Everydayâ€ť itâ€™s setting, culture, language and subject matter is different. It deals with themes of family, isolation, loneliness and a rejection of the outside world. Shot on location in Shizuoka, Japan â€śI, Everydayâ€ť tells the story of Keisuke and Hiro, two brothers who live together in their family home but have contrasting attitudes and approaches to their lives. Hiro suffers from Hikikomori, a social disorder in Japan that causes young people to isolate themselves from the outside world for prolonged periods of time, in Hiroâ€™s case its been a year. Hiro feels a need to be left alone, leaving his brother with the task of looking after him. As well as affecting the person directly, Hikikomori significantly impacts on those close to the victim. In Keisukeâ€™s case itâ€™s living with a secret that may bring gossip or shame on the family from the outside world.Â Producer/Cinematographer Mai Yamazaki and I did a great deal of research into the social phenomenon. Itâ€™s good to work with someone who has a great understanding of the culture, location, and people. In order to tell the narrative I decided it best to go for a documentary approach and this gave the filmmaking process fresh creativity. Itâ€™s interesting to play and experiment with different styles and how they can further your story and narrative; they are tools to use however you choose.
GUTFIRE!: Who are some of your favorite filmmakers/directors, both past and present? How have they influenced your work?
YOHAN: Chris Cunningham, who directed Aphex Twin Videos â€śCome to Daddyâ€ť and â€śWindow Lickerâ€ť his visual and editing style really had an impact on me as a teenager. Akira Kurosawa is another; his battle scene in â€śRanâ€ť is rich with detail and full of mood. George Lucas I was influenced by his story telling in the original Star Wars trilogy. Thomas Vinterberg with his film â€śFestenâ€ť from the Dogma 95 Movement, its attempt to capture realism within its rules made an interesting approach to creating cinema. Lastly David Lean, the strong visual style in his films were full of epic cinematic shots.
GUTFIRE!: When you see a film, do you enjoy watching it with snacks, like popcorn or candy? If so, what is your favorite movie snack? Do they have Milkduds in the U.K.?
YOHAN: Sweet Popcorn hands down! Milk Duds what are they? Can you send some over?
GUTFIRE!: If GUTFIRE! had never seen a movie, which 5 would you recommend we start with?
â€śApocalypse Nowâ€ť (1979) Francis Ford Coppola
â€śThe Empire Strikes Backâ€ť (1980) Director Irvin Kershner
â€śCinema Paradisoâ€ť (1988) Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
â€śAll about Lily-Chou-Chouâ€ť (2001) Director: Shunji Iwai
â€śRecâ€ť (2007) Director Jaume BalaguerĂł, Paco Plaza
GUTFIRE!: Are there other art forms you enjoy besides film, or do you tend to stick solely to that? If so, how do those other artistic interests affect your art?
YOHAN: I enjoy photography, going to exhibitions, listening and finding new music generally Iâ€™m always looking at all types of art. Each has its own techniques, methods, theories and having an appreciation for different forms helps to gain a better understanding and clearer perspective when working on your own craft.
GUTFIRE!: What is the worst movie youâ€™ve ever seen?
YOHAN: Whilst there are such things as bad films, most times there is always one thing good about them, to get a film made is an achievement in itselfâ€¦Â but if I had to pick one, â€śFred Claus.â€ť
GUTFIRE!: Are there any particular film genres you enjoy? Spaghetti Westerns? Nouvelle Vague? Porno?
YOHAN: All genres have their good points including the latter. (laughs)
GUTFIRE!: What is next for Yohan Forbes? What are you currently working on, and what do you have planned for the future?
YOHAN: I have a number of projects that I am working on at the moment; as well as finishing off post-production on â€śI, Everydayâ€ť and writing my next short film. Oh yeah, and looking forward to receiving some Milk Duds in the post.
GUTFIRE!: Weâ€™ll see if we can smuggle some through customs.