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Interview with Chihiro Ito (3)

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 3

There are certain differences between the original novel and the movie. What are those differences?
Out of the four The Sky Crawlers novels published at that time (NOTE: now there are six), we decided only to use material from the first volume of the series. The director and I chose specific scenes and discussed which mystery to reveal. We chose elements that were suited to a movie format and anything that couldn't be conveyed in dialogue would determine what went into the movie. These parameters dictated the differences between the movie and the book.

What developments were there in the scriptwriting process?
In the beginning the rules of The Sky Crawlers universe hadn't been determined. So I worked on the plot before I went into details. The initial draft was written before the details had been decided on. But with each draft the character's relationships began to evolve. The director and I worked together to create a world for the movie. The process was like adding clay on a fragile wire skeleton. Once the clay began to take on a shape, we remolded it and even reshaped the skeleton itself when necessary.

I heard that Director Isao Yukisada also contributed to the process. Could you tell us about that?
Yukisada functioned as a bridge between Mamoru Oshii and I. He would read each draft before handing it to Oshii. He was helpful particularly in regard to visual realization, he might say, "This cut would be good if it was shot this way." When I failed to capture the atmosphere of a scene, he pointed it out. On previous collaborations, he had told me that character development included the dynamics between the characters. The Sky Crawlers has very little dialogue and he liked that point. He told me that he'd like to do a live action version of the movie if he could.

How long did it take you to write?
I began writing the first draft after the first meeting, so it was late March, 2006. I finished the first draft on April 20, so it took me about a month. But the first draft was really just a foundation for us to build on. I finished each draft in 2 weeks and complete the third on May 24.

Which scene did you invest the most in?
The scene in which Yuichi Kannami and Suito Kusanagi meet for the first time. Any scene involving the two was special for me. I hope that the audience can sense their sad destiny.

(3 - to be continued)