Big Dreams Little Tokyo is the story of Boyd, an American with an uncanny ability to speak Japanese. Boyd aspires to succeed in the world of Japanese business but finds himself mostly on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, his roommate Jerome, is a Japanese American who has always felt too American to be Japanese but too Japanese to be American. He aspires to be a sumo wrestler but finds his weight and blood pressure are thwarting his dreams. Together they struggle to find their place in a world where cultural identity is seldom what it seems.
David Boyle director of Big Dreams Little Tokyo has an eclectic background in hand-drawn animation as well as live stage comedy. After directing numerous short subject films, he served a two-year mission in Sydney, Australia where he learned to speak Japanese. Upon his return to the United States in 2003, he studied Japanese Language and literature at Brigham Young University. He also directed a series of short films entitled “Yamamoto and Company” which led to the development and financing of Big Dreams Little Tokyo. He is currently preparing an as yet untitled feature project for Fall 2006.
Shohreh Jandaghian: There are parallels between your background and your character Boyd. Are there any echoes of your own life or experiences in “Big dreams, little Tokyo”?
David Boyle: The only thing that Boyd and I really have in common is that we both speak Japanese. The character is not autobiographical in any way, rather, he is based on observations of other people. There are plenty of Americans who spend some time in Japan, learn the language, and then think of themselves as Â³honorary JapaneseÂ² or think that they have some sort of special insight into the culture. IÂ¹ve always found this to be appalling, but also very funny and great material for comedy.
Shohreh: What does the film try to capture? A culture clash?
David: Less a culture clash than a yearning for cultural identity. With the film, I tried to capture the idea that individual personality transcends the boundaries of cultural identity. Boyd and Jerome (the wannabe sumo) base all of their interactions with Japanese people on extremely shallow and misguided notions of Japanese culture.
Shohreh: What made you take a fix on Japan and Japanese culture?
David: I just sort of stumbled on it. I had the experience of learning the Japanese language, which was very interesting, and I thought it would make a unique subject for a movie. I had always found that other movies focusing on Japanese-Western interaction were based mostly on stereotype, which is pretty uninspiring.
Shohreh: Why did you choose Comedy genre?
David: ThatÂ¹s a good question. IÂ¹m interested in working in other genres at some point, but right now I think that subtle humor is my strength. My newest project is a case in point; I started out intending to write a sober drama but when I read the final result it was funny. Nonetheless, I think for this type of subject matter, humor can be very effective in getting my observations and ideas across.
Shohreh: Did your background in traditional animation useful to you in making this movie?
David: The movie definitely has a Â³heightened realityÂ² in its visual style that may be due to the influence of animation. It doesnÂ¹t quite reach the level of a live action cartoon, but parts of it get pretty close!
Shohreh: Are their any film directors that may have any influence in your work?
David: Francois Truffaut is definitely a hero to me. I know thatÂ¹s a generic film school answer, but its completely true. His films Stolen Kisses and Bed and Board were definitely a big influence on Big Dreams. I have also enjoyed the work of Pietro Germi, Jacques Tati, and many others. My favorite film from the last couple of years was The Squid and the Whale. I try to see as many movies as I can, so IÂ¹m constantly discovering new directors that I love.
Shohreh: How do you see the future of the Independent Film Making?
David: The only constant is change. I think that its important to be flexible and be able to work fast and cheap. No matter what new innovations come up in production or distribution, its never going to be easy to finance and produce independent films; it will always be a battle. I would rather shoot a low budget picture every year than sit and wait for a million dollar budget.
Shohreh: Would you please tell us about your next feature project?
David: During “Big Dreams Little Tokyo” I just loved some of the supporting actors that I worked with and decided to write something for them. My next project is called Â³White on RiceÂ² and I wrote it for Hiroshi Watanabe, who also co-stars in Clint EastwoodÂ¹s new film Letters from Iwo Jima. It’s a story about a Japanese family living in America and their crazy Uncle who lives with them. While it is a comedy, the tone is completely different from “Big Dreams.”
Shohreh: Thank you for your time.