Production house TOKYO’s CEO tells LBB’s Natasha Patel of the positives that have come from lockdown and why this is the perfect time to branch out
Production house TOKYO is, as the name suggests, a team of creatives based in Japan’s capital city. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in so many ways, TOKYO’s CEO Eiji Tanigawa explains what has happened to the world of production in his home country after they came out of quarantine in early May.
“The whole industry, not just TOKYO, has been facing a very difficult situation over the last two months. The government declared a state of emergency which made it difficult to work”, he says. Since then things are slowly starting to improve and with the help of medical staff on set, enhanced sanitation and mandatory health checks production has begun resuming.
However Eiji is quick to establish that although there is some leeway on what can happen on sets, it won’t be anywhere near to how it was pre-Covid. He says: “In light of this situation, shooting on location is limited and overseas shoots are being avoided at all costs. What is left for us right now is studio shoots with minimal staff and cast.”
The opportunist doesn’t see this as a negative thing and reels of the positives that have come with a new way of working. “We have a more relaxed schedule, no more sleepless nights for deadlines and we don’t have to travel from place to place, corresponding mostly online. The best thing to come out of it all is that we no longer have to commute on Japan’s notoriously crowded trains, there are no more unnecessary meetings and instead more time spent with family. It is definitely changing our way of working for the better.”
Aside from the many positives on a personal level, for TOKYO the restrictions that have come with the pandemic have meant that they have been able to take a step back from working with clients and agencies to produce their own content. Eiji’s favourite project thus far was born out of the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Intel The Museum of Me is inspired by everyday life and is an ode to living through testing times. “Our team came up with the concept, ‘Life is Beautiful’. This core theme guided our creativity to build never-before-seen communication through the power of craft. I was so thrilled that our message spread across the world and the campaign received many awards from various international advertising award bodies.”
But what of the future of commercials and how will they be shot? Eiji believes that time will evolve the way communication through advertising is done but, for him, visual communications will never fade away although it is a very difficult time to predict the future of the industry. He adds: “It is a chance for us to re-think what kind of visual communication we should create, and what we should be passionate about.”
While remote shooting has seen a huge increase in recent months, Eiji believes that this method of storytelling is not as popular in Japan right now – and with good reason. “Japan is a small country and our culture values the subtle nuances and moods that float in the air, things you can only capture when you are actually present, not via displays.” And adds that while “physical distance separates us, our mental distance has become closer during quarantine as we communicate online.” He hopes this is the perfect time for his team to spread their wings and branch out to collaborations outside of Japan thanks to technology’s advancements.