Production I.G> WORK LIST> The Sky Crawlers> SPECIAL FEATURE> Interview with Chihiro Ito (4)

Interview with Chihiro Ito (4)

Chihiro Ito
Born in 1982, Ito started working in movie production in 2000, as staff in the art department. A pivotal event in her career was when she met film director Isao Yukisada. He suggested to her that she write a screenplay for Seventh Anniversary (2003) which became Ito's professional screenplay debut. The following year, she wrote the screenplay for Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World (2004) with Yukisada and Yuji Sakamoto. The movie was a phenomenal success which brought her under the spotlight. Since then she writes for movies constantly such as, Spring Snow (2005, adapted from the novel by Yukio Mishima), The World According to Chocolat (2006), Into the Faraway Sky (2007), and Closed Diary (2007), all directed by Yukisada. While her screenwriting career has taken off, she still works in the art department. The Sky Crawlers is her first challenge in an animated feature.

part 4

After you'd finished the final draft and turned in the screenplay, did you feel that it altered in the production process?
I have a policy to think that the moment the final draft is done, the screenplay is no longer owned by the screenwriter but by the director. I'm then at a stage where I'm looking forward to the completion of the movie just like a movie-goer. One thing that is different from my previous experience is that it has taken much longer to make the movie, as animation is very different from live-action. So I had to wait many months since I had finished my work, and I was just waiting in anticipation.

How did the distinctive world of The Sky Crawlers affect you as you wrote?
I used to write everyday reality-based dramas, so it was a lot of fun to write a story based on an imaginary reality. The Kildren are destined to live in a very special way. And being able to put my input into the characters was a privilege.

Was there any particular message you wanted to convey to the audience with the movie?
I'm not that kind of screenwriter. I'm quite liberal about what each person takes from the movie. Personally, what I wrote for The Sky Crawlers was a reflection of my own ideas about life and death. So I'd be happy if the movie triggers the audience to think about that too. Like the director said, "Life is hard and full of anguish."

Were there any other obstacles when you were writing the screenplay that you can remember?
Like any other movie, the director has a clear point that he or she wants to make. Mamoru Oshii told me to write as I like so I wrote more from the viewpoint of the Suito Kusanagi character. That made it difficult to develop the story in the second half of the movie. But the director has a big heart to embrace any trouble I had, so in the end, it all came together.

Any other memorable episodes during your involvement?
This has little to do with the writing process but Oshii-san's daughter is coincidentally the same age as me. He often told me about his feelings as he could meet again with his daughter after a period of separation. This inspired him to make a movie that addressed young people. Maybe that was partly it but every week we met, he seemed to gradually change. He became more and more physically fit. His fashion changed too. I don't really know why he changed but it seemed to me that Mamoru Oshii had started a new era.

What did you gain from writing for The Sky Crawlers?
The biggest thing was that I got to meet Mamoru Oshii. In the beginning I was so nervous about writing the screenplay, but he helped me explore new territory. One of the things we talked a lot about during the process was about movies that dealt with love. We talked about Yukio Mishima and Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas too. I was especially affected by our conversation about François Truffaut's La femme d'à côté (The Woman Next Door, 1981) which was such an inspiration. The movie has the best line about love in movie history. It goes, "You're too much to be with but it's too much to be without you." It fits the mentality of The Sky Crawlers exactly. That's the essence of loving and being loved.

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