BY Kenneth Harvey
February 24 2010 1:25 PM ET
How did you discover her secret life before your grandfather?
Miyazaki: We loved my grandmother so dearly and we never really wanted to go through her belongings. Years later we decided to, and my mother found a box of photos that none of us saw before. Seeing that picture, it just dawned on me. When I saw this girl she was with, she looked so feminine, she was simply so happy. For the first time I saw a female side of her my grandmother, and that’s how I came up with the story.
What story line will the film feature?
Miyazaki: My great-grandmother is the antagonist of the film. I just imagine if [Tsuyako] had the freedom to escape with this girl. She stayed because that was the culture of the family and she had no choice. I wanted to give her freedom in this film, if only for a moment. At the end of the movie she says, “I’m not going.” But that’s the reality of it. If she was gone, I would not be here.
You’ve decided to film in Osaka, Japan, and use Japanese actors. Why not film in Los Angeles to save money?
Peerali: People were questioning, why not shoot it in Alhambra and get some cheap interiors and try to get some exteriors and stock footage of Japan? Given what’s going on with Proposition 8, we don’t have equal rights to marry yet, but in Japan where it’s so repressed with sexuality and sexual progression, it would be really beautiful to bring the freedom we have here and liberate this story in a country that’s still kind of not OK with it.
Mitsuyo, you also work as a cinematographer and photographer — are there visual elements in Japan you wanted to capture in this film?
Miyazaki: We’re trying to shoot on film, and everything from the sunrise to the color of the sun to the air, the green, everything is so different. That’s where I grew up. As an artist that’s important for me, to shoot a film where it belongs. My story is set in the Osaka area, and we have a very thick accent. I also want to find actors who live there, who know where we live and our personalities. I don’t want to choose the actors until I get to Japan.
Do you have any actors in mind?
Miyazaki: One of the actors, he’s a male, he’s the character of Kinya, which is Tsuyako’s husband — he’s a celebrity and very interested in portraying this character.
How are you raising funds for this project?
Peerali: We’re having fund-raisers. A couple of friends throw nights in Los Angeles that are GLBT-friendly or centered on the lesbian scene. They’re trying to bring awareness by having a night at their club for a couple hours where people can donate money. We’re reaching out to LGBT organizations, Asian LGBT organizations in L.A. or all over the world that might be able to spread the word. We’re also applying for grants.
Miyazaki: People can visit our website for a description of what we’re trying to do. We take it seriously; it’s what we’ve learned at USC in the past three years. If people donate $10 and there are 1,000 of them, then we have $10,000.
You are also blogging about the experience in order to show what it’s like to make a film from the ground up.
Peerali: We’ve been blogging and putting up videos about the process of what it takes to make a film and what we’ve been through.
Miyazaki: We also have this beautiful production bible that talks about our stories and my ideas for scripts. It took us three months to complete, and we’re sending it to people who might be interested.