Creative Process

I’ve been watching “I Lived, But…” a 1983 documentary/biography of Japanese Film Director Yasujiro Ozu from the box set of DVDs and as it is made 20 years after his death it mainly features interviews with his collaborators – actors, cinematographers, other directors…. And it is full of beautiful observations on his work and his creative process… Here’s a couple that appealed to me:

Writer/Director Kaneto Sihndo on Ozu: “If you don’t have strict limitations, you probably won’t think your ideas through so carefully. Those limitations make you condense your thoughts into a more concentrated form. That creative process is something you can’t do without.”

And an unrelated conversation with Shizu Noda (widow of Kogo Noda, Screenwriter)

Ozu Sake

Shizu Noda: “Well, work for them was basically like play..”

Interviewer: “What would you say the balance was between drinking and working?”

Shizu Noda: “They probably did more drinking than working. They didn’t get up until after 9am, and they liked to bathe in the morning. But they’d both say ‘after you’ so I got impatient and took my bath first. Pretty soon that became the custom. They’d never bathe until after me. After their baths they’d have breakfast. Between them they’d drink three gō of sake with their breakfast. After breakfast, they’d immediately lie down for a nap, until about 1pm. Then they’d get up and take a walk. They’d be gone maybe two hours. Then they’d come home and work from 4pm to about 6pm. Supper started between 6pm and 7pm and they’d share five more gō of sake. They’d finish eating around 8pm. When they were going strong they’d be eager to get right back to work, and they’d work until midnight. When they finally knocked off work, they’d want to eat again. So I always had to stay up to fix them something… It was the same thing day after day. Once they got going, they’d finish a script in a month. But getting to that point took a long time….”

Interviewer: “So it took a month once they got started, but how long until they got started?”

Shizu Noda: “Two months. So three months total, which meant a hundred bottles of sake per script”

Interviewer: “At eight gō a day between them-

Shizu Noda: “Which isn’t quite a whole bottle per day, but there’d be guests… who would drink the rest”

Interviewer: “Right. So it would wind up being a hundred bottles per script.”

Ozu Sake

Sake is sold in volume units divisible by 180 mL (a gō), the traditional Japanese unit for cup size: sake is traditional sold by the gō-sized cup, or in a 1.8 L (one shō, ten gō) sized flask

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