With accessible and affordable equipment, easy to organize fundraising and eager young artists, it has never been easier to have your voice heard. Unfortunately, these voices can oftentimes be shallow, self-serving or plain boring. But one project that has captured the attention of filmgoers world wide is the short documentary by Rebecca Irby and Richard Mirocco, which follows the miraculous story of a woman 7 months pregnant and living in the Hiroshima prefecture the day the world suffered the first nuclear attack. We sat down with the filmmakers to find out a little more about the project and how they managed to construct it from the ground up.
For those of our readers that may not have heard of the That Day project, what can you tell us about it?
Rich: That Day is a film about the most terrible destructive force the world has ever seen – the atomic bomb – and the people that witnessed it first hand. The whole project is a public exhibit to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and the That Day Film is the centerpiece. We are incorporating many forms of music, film, art, and various organizations to reach out to people who have never been to Hiroshima. We want to send a unique message that gets more people involved.
The film centers around the amazing Mr. Mito and his mother, who was seven month’s pregnant with her son at the time of the attack. How did you gain their trust to be given such an insight into their lives and the opportunity to tell their story?
Rich: Good question. Meeting Kosei Mito was fairly easy because he’s a volunteer guide at the Peace Park in Hiroshima. But gaining his and his Mother’s trust was a long process. You see, he’s met so many people who say, “I would love to help and I’m going to do this or that”, and some act and some don’t.
Rebecca: For us, the follow-up and follow-through was key. For a year we researched and networked with peace organizations in Hiroshima. A year’s worth of emails, phone calls, and in-person visits prior to filming helped him understand that we meant what we said and we had common goals. We wanted to achieve them through benevolent means. After that, it was another six months of the same until he agreed to ask his Mother to speak to us.
What inspired you to want to tell this story? Did your initial aims change over the course of the filming?
Rebecca: When I first came to Hiroshima I was shocked to learn of what happened. I mean, it was far worse and far more deadly than what’s taught in schools. The most shocking thing was how many civilians were killed and affected by all this. I wanted to tell the story in my own way – just like the vision in my mind. Over time our ambitions haven’t swayed and that’s helping keep the film in line with my vision, the larger project, and end goal: abolishing nuclear weapons.
Rich: We inter-weaved the personal story of two survivors – the part Rebecca connected with most – with the scale and scope of both the bomb and what we know is an international crisis. But even more importantly, we’ve kept true to Rebecca’s unique vision of how to tell the story. Viewers can connect with the survivors, the situation, and us, through historical footage, recent interviews, realistic narration, and an original, contemporary musical score. We know in a moment if a certain clip or sound doesn’t fit with who Rebecca is or what she’s trying to say.
Taking on such an ambitious project independently must have been very challenging, what were some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
Rich: The biggest challenge is funding and that’s probably true for most projects like ours. Then you factor in the language barrier and multiply that by full and part time jobs. Big challenges. We meet those challenges through grass-roots fundraising, strong coffee, the generosity of our backers, the immeasurable support of our friends and family, and our project team! Seriously, this film would still be just an idea without our writer, cameramen, editor, and composer, and everyone in Hiroshima that’s helped us out. All of them have undertaken this huge task with gusto. We knew we were gonna make a film, but this is just amazing.
Rebecca: We’ve been to Hiroshima six times: The first visit as tourists, the next two as researchers, and three times for filming. We’ve spent a total of two weeks there and we’ve worked on this pretty much every day for the last twelve months. I won’t lie it was tough, but it’s really amazing to see something that was once just a vision come alive.
Apart from watching the film and spreading its message, how can people help support your project?
Rebecca: People can support us in many ways. We are raising money for our next trip to Hiroshima where we will participate in an international peace conference next month. Your financial support helps us meet hundreds of delegates from all over the world and show the film to thousands of people, and organize future events.
Rich: As people continue to support us, we get in front of bigger audiences, and we’ve seen that people really love the film and what we’re doing. So we want more opportunities to spread the word.
Rebecca: This is also a call to artists and organizers everywhere who want to be a part of this. As we said before, this is a piece of a whole exhibit where art, music, and film reach out to people and governments with a clear message: Abolish nuclear weapons. Let’s get connected and work together. And please sign the petition to abolish nuclear weapons!
Last, but by no means least, where can people see the documentary and find out more about the overall project?
Rebecca: Starting on August 6, people can see the movie on our website – www.ThatDayFilm.com. From there you can also donate, view pictures, movie stills, promos, and download and sign the petition.