AMC Theatres has shown tremendous support for Pray for Japan and our mission – paying tribute to the heroes and helping the long-term recovery process.
On March 14, 2012 at 7:00 PM, in honor of the 1-year anniversary, Pray for Japan was screened in AMC Theatres in 15 cities across North America. It was a triumph! AMC went on to do a week’s engagement for the film in Manhattan; and in Burbank, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Hollywood Theaters has a spectacular theater in Hawaii – the Maui Mall Megaplex Cinema – which showed Pray for Japan at 7:00 PM on March 14, 2012 as part of our nationwide special charity event. Mahalo! (As of 2014, Hollywood Theatres has merged with Regal Entertainment Group and no longer exists as a separate entity.)
Cinem@art, based in Japan, contributed their 300+ seat theater in Shinjuku, Tokyo for the world premiere of Pray for Japan at 7:00 PM on March 6, 2012. Filmmaker Stu Levy was there to do a Q&A as well as to meet up with attendees at a reception after the event. Of course, 100% of the profits were donated to charity!
Tokyo-based Q-Tec is a full-services post-production facility for feature film, television, animation and digital-based projects. They are an expert in stereoscopic 2D to 3D conversion, along with color grading, compositing, online editing, visual effects, sound mixing, sound recording and many other services.
Pray for Japan came together from the bonds of many people pitching in to help, and through Stu’s good friend and talented director/VFX supervisor Takahiko Akiyama and an introduction to Q-Tec’s Noriyuki Hirano, the connection to Q-Tec was made. Once CEO Toru Kajio and parent company Memory Tech signed off, Q-Tec provided enormous resources for our post-production work, including color grading and online editing on their Quantel iQ system, compositing and motion graphics work, sound recording and mixing, and output support (DCP, Blu-Ray, HD-CAM, DVD, etc.). And they have free coffee and tea in their studios!
Studio DEEN, one of Japan’s top animation studios, has been producing world-renowned anime titles for over 25 years (ironically, they were founded on March 14 – the same day that Pray for Japan will have its North American multi-city special charity event!). When Stu was filming during those initial weeks up in Tohoku, the idea crossed his mind to open the film with a beautiful animation piece, to reflect the long-established importance of art in the Japanese culture and to represent the pre-tsunami slices of life of Pray for Japan’s real-life heroes. He called his friend – and premiere anime director – Hiroshi Nagahama with the idea. Nagahama-san, a passionate creator, immediately sympathized with Stu’s goals and upon Stu’s return to Tokyo a few months later, arranged a meeting with Studio DEEN’s head Kazunori Noguchi. Noguchi-san wanted to participate as well and suggested that both he and Nagahama-san join Stu in Ishinomaki on the next trip. A few days later, they were at the Minato-sho Shelter during the summer festival (matsuri) and Stu introduced them to a handful of volunteers and victims. They toured Ishinomaki’s devasted areas and were of course struck by the intensity of the damage and living conditions. Their concern was whether or not animation would trivialize the importance of this story, but after a discussion with a Studio DEEN animator who was born and raised in the devastated zone, they understood that the victims would indeed feel honored. It was at that point that Noguchi-san and Nagahama-san committed to the project.
Together with Nagahama-san’s production partner ArtLand Animation Studios, they invested significant resources, recruiting an animation production team that includes Korean and Chinese animation studios, as well as fellow Tokyo-based Production I.G. The resulting opening animation sequence, set to Okuda Tamio‘s beautiful theme song “jp”, is an incredible work of art and tribute to the many faceless heroes of Tohoku.
Vitac made its name by being a pioneer in Closed-Captioning. They branched off into subtitling when they realized that their technology could revolutionize subtitling movies, television and home video. Another one of our technical partners, they offered their considerable resources to us without cost. They came through for us in the crunch leading up to making a cut of the film available for film festival season. We have Hiroko Imai, one of their expert Japanese translators, to thank for bringing our project to the firm’s attention and introducing us to them.
Our original website ran off the Ning platform, which allows “regular” people (meaning those other than Web designers) to easily create and manage websites, especially social networking websites. Stu had previously used Ning for his projects such as America’s Greatest Otaku, as well as for internal production purposes on Van Von Hunter and other shows. He contacted Ning about potential support for the Pray for Japan website, and the team up in the Bay Area showed tremendous support, from CEO Jason Rosenthal, execs John McDonald and Jonathan Hull, to designer Florence Tsai. For two great years we were “Powered by Ning” — thanks, guys!
The Pray For Japan website is now run on the WordPress.Com platform. WordPress.Com brings the power of WordPress to the masses with their shared hosting and simplified site creation. Anyone can harness the power of WordPress by setting up a free account here! We really love them and WordPress, come see what they’re about.
The RightStuf is an e-commerce company dedicated to anime, manga and Asian pop culture enthusiasts. The owner, Shawne, has traveled to Japan many times and is a great fan of the culture. Shocked by the tragedy, Shawne has donated his company’s resources to Pray for Japan, handling shipping logistics. He also participated personally by becoming a generous backer via Kickstarter. Thanks to Shawne and his awesome team at RightStuf.com!