The Mushi-Shi fan film “House of Seasons” was released 3 years ago today, and is probably still my favorite of every project I’ve ever done. Yes it’s very simple, yes the visual effects of the “mushi” are terrible at best, but the story is still something I’m rather proud of.
The biggest challenge for House of Seasons was to adapt the mythology of the Mushi-shi universe into a modern setting where I could work with a new set of characters. Knowing I did not have the resources to create a film in the same period of time, I instead decided to play into the theme of reincarnation to give me a little more room to write.
This project (being a fan film) needed to be written very carefully. It was important to me that I did not offend the purity of the original series, but instead created something that paid tribute to the best storytelling elements of it. While writing the script I had episodes of the show playing in the background to inspire and guide me in the tone of the entire project I also didn’t want to repeat any story that had already been told in the series. While this was a fan film it was not intended to be an adaptation, so finding a mysterious entity to act as the catalyst for the project.
One type of story that I never saw within the original series was the idea of time and time travel, but again the trick was trying to keep the concept fresh. Time travel is often overdone making it a hard idea to implement correctly. I then had the idea of filming the project at 2 different times of year and “jumping” the seasons. Then using the idea of the small shack in my back yard as a fixed location the story began to take shape.
The next big challenge came with the modern Ginko character. After reviewing several episodes of the show, I began to form a more accurate character analysis. He was blunt and fairly self centered, but still looked out for those who didn’t know any better concerning the mysterious entity known as Mushi. Creating a new character that had the same underlying compassion covered by a uniquely harsh outer shell made writing lines for him much more difficult than I first imagined. However, knowing that I would portray the character made understanding how to write the lines a bit easier.
When the script was finished I found myself posting the finished script over to DeviantArt on a whim. I was surprised to find a young composer and his brother messaging me about the project. The Twins Compositions, as they called themselves, were equally big fans of the franchise and were excited to see that I would be filming the project rather than just posting a script for fun. After a few correspondents I had found a pair willing to compose for the project making a truly incredible.
The filming of the project was rather simple, there were some minor oversights with camera placement causing unneeded glare. It also gave me another opportunity to bring my leather jacket into another film, which seems to be recurring choice for many of the characters I play. Although I did find it remarkably difficult to talk with a toothpick in my mouth. Ethically for me it was better than a cigarette, but I feel that it’s painfully obvious how often I put it in and out of my lip throughout the film.
In post-production the film truly came to life! I was able to cut together the film in a more relaxed state knowing the soundtrack would be written to fit the production as it should be. Many of my projects however don’t have the luxury. Having to work with audio tracks that are fixed rather than dynamic in length makes for a trickier process of editing, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me in the past.
With the soundtrack complete in about a month the project released and now it sits as a shining example of the right elements in the pre-production process coming together beautifully. Sure some of the camera shots were a bit off (as I’m not the best cinematographer), and the visual effects of the “Mushi” were pretty cheap and generic, but I still feel great about how the project turned out. A tale of love, loss, and mystery contained in a ten minute short film, stands as my tribute to a fantastic franchise.