Funky Forest / Warped Forest
Funky Forest is one of those cult classics that has a loyal following out there, but was a huge bomb in Japan, which is one of the reasons why getting it out in HD and on bluray was a complicated process.
Though, if putting all the time, money and effort together to prepare it, then why not make a super special edition with brand new extras as well as the unofficial sequel Warped Forest which actually has never ever been released anywhere in the world outside of film festivals (no theatrical or any other release even in Japan)?
As I was in contact with the producer of Funky Forest, it came to light that a new distribution company ERROR4444 were also interested in the package, so we were able to pool resources to help cover the considerable expenses in digitizing the films and making new materials.
One of my real bugbears about working with Japanese films is that the main market for them are in their own country, yet with so many films getting made each year the production companies completely disregard their older films and it's always up to foreign distributors to rescue and remaster Japanese cinema. In the case of Funky Forest, it wasn't even that the film needed to be restored (as it's a relatively new film), but just needed to be properly digitized and even though those costs are not massive and would allow the film to be exploited in Japan through video on demand and other outlets, the production company made us pay for all the costs of it as they would never have thought about doing it themselves. Doubly annoying is that the production company have their own dubbing and restoration studios in house, so it could be done very simply, but just not the interest in digitizing their back catalogue.
To overcome this challenge, costs were split with ERROR4444 and after also personally sorting out the sale of the films to Spectrum Films in France (in order to be able to split digitization costs 3 ways) it made things more reasonable for us to proceed.
Though, with the original US DVD release of Funky being a really stellar edition, we wanted to go even further, so we managed to license and subtitle all the original Japanese bonus features (including loads of deleted scenes and more), then on top of that recorded a brand new audio commentary with all 3 directors!
I was there with them during the commentary, and being able to speak and understand Japanese was both fantastic listening to them yap on for 150 minutes, while at the same time my mind was going mad thinking "How the hell am I going to translate all this!". And so it proved to be the hardest and longest translating job I've ever had, taking close to a month to prepare the subtitles as there were more lines of dialogue in total than across the whole 4 hours of Love Exposure!!!
So I hope people appreciate the overall work and effort put into the release!
Though, while most people will buy the release for Funky, Warped is a real rarity of Japanese cinema. Shunichiro Miki, one of the 3 directors of Funky put his life savings into making a film which he never even released. It played a few film festivals in 2011/2, but was something that the majority of people out there could only dream about watching. It was even hard for myself and I ended up having to contact Nice Rainbow (the company the 3 directors run) back in the days to be able to get a DVD screener to watch as the film wasn't being handled by any proper sales agent.
So not only does the film finally get its very first physical release in the world, but the film's Making Of was edited especially for it (the tapes had been sitting in a box since 2011), plus I interviewed Shunichiro myself to ask him why the film has been 'lost' for so long.
It's strange as the film does have some of the biggest names in Japanese cinema, with both Fumi Nikaido (HIMIZU) and Rinko Kikuchi (BABEL, NORWEGIAN WOOD) among the cast, so it's certainly something which should have reached a larger audience than it did.
Along with the interview, I also setup my laptop for Shunichiro to record an audio commentary for the release, and with only one person speaking it made the subtitles a lot easier for me to do (thank god!)!
After meeting with Shunichiro for this, he went home and pulled out a lot of the original storyboards and art designs he had made and I have included them on the disc too!
So, not just a simple release of a rare film, but loads of new extras have been made to make it an even more special package!
In total, it was really months of work putting this package together, so I hope that people can enjoy all the new extras alongside seeing these films for the first time in HD!
Funky Forest / Warped Forest bluray set will be out March 21st! Order here
- Adam Torel, Third Window Films