Macau - L.A. Collaboration
Toru Uchikado, the star of popular American TV series 'Heroes Reborn' has joined the final stages of filming on director Thomas Lim’s Macau movie 'Sea of Mirrors', which fully wrapped shooting last month.
With the main story entirely set in Macau, 'Sea of Mirrors' was shot (in Macau) with predominantly local crew and actors for 20 days last year. After months of editing, Thomas Lim finally decided to shoot the Los Angeles scenes he wrote for the movie a year ago - that represent his views on working in Macau and Hollywood. Although these scenes were written with the main script last year, they were never shot until this year. These new scenes star Toru Uchikado.
Born in the U.S and raised in Japan, Toru Uchikado played a principal role “Ren Shimosawa” in the NBC science fiction serial drama 'Heroes Reborn', aired nationwide in America in 2015 and 2016. NBC is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. Uchikado cites 'Sea of Mirrors' being a Macau film, the opportunity to work with Thomas Lim and shooting on the iPhone as main reasons that drew him to the project, stating that: “Macau is an extremely popular travel destination in Japan, and I’ve always hoped to be in a movie set there. I was curious when I heard about Thomas Lim, a director based in L.A who makes films in Macau. When Thomas told me the story of 'Sea of Mirrors' (which involved Japanese elements) and that he was shooting on the iPhone, I was very intrigued and immediately said yes. Even though I’d really wanted my scenes to be shot in Macau, it’s unfortunate that my schedule wouldn’t allow me to leave L.A at the moment. I would love to be there for the premiere of the film though!”
This also marks the first time Thomas Lim has directed in Hollywood and he shares Toru Uchikado’s excitement in this collaboration. Lim states: “My previous Macau film 'Roulette City' was commercially released in Japan even though it didn’t have Japanese elements. Japanese audiences had told me they thought the star of that film was “Macau” itself. Now with a real star in Toru Uchikado on board 'Sea of Mirrors', it increases our chances of getting a theatrical release in Japan again. Toru is greatly admired in Japan for doing so well in Hollywood and the 'Heroes' series is huge in both Japan and America. I sincerely believe that he will become even more popular in Hollywood and Asia in the next couple of years.”
Thomas Lim explains how the story for 'Sea of Mirrors' changed over the course of filming and editing, stating: “Every film goes through 3 major stages of evolution – the writing, filming, and editing – and like little children, a film soon develops its own life. As ‘parents’ of the film, we can only provide the best opportunities for it and hope it represents us in the best way possible to its audiences. 'Sea of Mirrors' has definitely taken on a personality of its own since we filmed in Macau. Independent films are meant to tell stories which represent its creator and this story is a commentary on my history as an actor, the bond with my filmmaking hometown (Macau), the place where my first film (Roulette City) got its first release (Japan), as well as my transition to life in Los Angeles.”
Lim continues: “When we filmed in Macau last year, I haven’t lived in L.A long enough yet. So, even though I had written scenes to reflect on life in L.A, I didn’t feel those views were mature enough to be included in the movie. However, in the many months of editing, these scenes kept creeping back into my mind, begging to be filmed, probably because now I feel more deeply about the joys and troubles of transitioning to the Hollywood industry. Meanwhile, because shooting on the iPhone was new to all of us last year, we encountered technical problems in some of our Macau scenes, which my editor has advised to exclude from the film. That made shooting additional scenes necessary, and I looked long and hard into possibly filming more scenes in Macau. But when Toru Uchikado expressed interest in being in the film, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to work with a full-fledged Hollywood star. So, I re-created the L.A scenes to suit him, and am happy that my new Macau film has somehow evolved to include a Hollywood actor, and my views about Hollywood in it.”
True to the film’s title “Sea of Mirrors”, Thomas Lim designed these new L.A scenes to mirror those in Macau. In L.A, Toru Uchikado plays a fictional Japanese actor “Nat Nakamura” who goes to Hollywood to meet his idol (a faded Hollywood actress “Isabel Chester”) and tells her a story that happened in Macau: where a former famous Japanese actress “Riri Kondo” goes to Macau to meet a fan.
Shooting in L.A this time has also reunited Thomas Lim with Sam Voutas - the cinematographer of 'Roulette City'. The L.A scenes were shot on the iPhone-7, while Macau scenes on the iPhone-6S. In addition, “Isabel Chester” is played by veteran American actress Kendra Munger, who in Thomas Lim’s definition is very much what Asia thinks a Hollywood star should look - blonde, beautiful, tall and with a great smile.
Post-production for Sea of Mirrors is scheduled to finish this year before the movie premieres in Macau in 2018. Thomas Lim intends to visit Macau in the second half of August to complete part of post-production there.