Distinguished Director-in-Residence Theodore “Regge” Life showed scenes from his feature film Cocktail Party on February 14 at a Second Thursday event in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center. The event is part of a monthly series designed to create a forum on campus for faculty members to present their recent work, including research and creative projects.
Life’s film is adapted from The Cocktail Party by Tatsuhiro Oshiro, a prize-winning novel in Japan. Life spent about nine months on the island of Okinawa on a Fulbright Research Scholarship, working with the author to place his story in a modern setting. Life, of the Department of Visual and Media Arts, was invited to show scenes from the film at the Tokyo Film Festival last October.
The scenes were filmed with an all-Emerson cast and crew last spring. “It’s been quite successful for the performing arts students,” Life said. “We were very happy about how it all turned out.”
The original, fictional story of Cocktail Party takes place shortly after World War II near a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa, Japan, where a second lieutenant is accused of sexual misconduct in a night of partying off base. His commander seeks the truth but is also determined to protect the accused, while the entire incident creates tension and uncertainty among the base and nearby community. Life’s film explores what happens to the original protagonist in a present-day setting when a similar incident transpires.
“He gets pulled back into this world of tension and a controversial arrangement between the U.S. bases that are in Okinawa and the Okinawans themselves,” Life said. “That’s kind of how the story evolves. We watch how he tries to enlist a new friendship with a commander on the base as a way to sort out this situation that has now erupted and threatens the peace and security of everybody.”
Life said students got a “real world” experience in helping produce the film—with early call times and long hours that the project demanded.
“We worked hard. We ran it just like you’d run a shoot in the real world,” he said. “They realized the rigor that’s involved when you’re doing this every day for 30 days. It’s hard work, and they gained a respect for that kind of work.”
“I just believe in that whole idea of developing that next generation of filmmakers,” Life continued.
He said he got “great cooperation” from Emerson Visual and Media Arts and Performing Arts faculty who assisted him on everything from cinematography to sound to production design. His collaborators included Assistant Professor Harlan Bosmajian, Part Time Faculty Member Lawrence Sampson, Associate Professor Timothy Jozwick and Senior Distinguished Producing Director-in-Residence Benny Ambush.
Next month, Life is presenting his completed film Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story at Emerson. Life made the feature-length documentary last year about 24-year-old Taylor Anderson, an English teacher in Ishinomaki, Japan, who was the first confirmed American casualty of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in 2011. Live Your Dream will screen in the Bright Family Screening Room on March 12.