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11/24/2023 | Press release | Archived content

‘in Love and Deep Water’ Screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto Interview →

'in Love and Deep Water' Screenwriter Yuji Sakamoto Interview


24 November 2023
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-When did you write the screenplay for this film?

It was after "My Dear Exes" and before "Love With a Case." It was written between the end of 2021 and February 2022.

-Why did you decide to set it on a cruise ship?

I always wanted to write a film about a mystery with romantic comedy elements set in a resort, like a ski resort or a tropical island. As one variation, I suggested setting it on a cruise ship. I actually proposed another work set on a ship before, but I was told it would be too expensive to film. Netflix was able to make this idea a reality.

-What did you keep in mind while working on your first Netflix title?

I have watched a lot of Netflix titles, so I simply wanted to write one myself. I may not have had any deeper thoughts than that. But I was used to writing TV dramas, where the staff changes for each show and everyone around me would be happy or sad depending on the reaction to each episode, and I was accustomed to writing under pressure while the series was airing, so the change in environment was much bigger than I expected.

-The works you have written in recent years have gained attention for their social aspects. Since "In Love and Deep Water" is a work of pure entertainment, is this title a return to your roots in some way?

This phrasing might lead to misunderstandings, but in general, I consider myself a writer of what are called trendy dramas. I intend to write screenplays that are necessary for each era we live in. In the 1990s, trendy dramas were needed, and a diverse group of titles were born from that need. But in the 2010s, the influence of TV dramas themselves began to weaken. In these adverse circumstances, I thought about what dramas I should make to capture the mood of the era, or even to love that era in time, and wrote those screenplays in response. So if there was a change in my writing style then, I think it's because there was mainly a change in the era itself. There was an element of that in "My Dear Exes." The whole world, including the TV drama production environment, has been trending toward honoring austerity, so I wanted to rebel against that trend and depict a flashier world.

-You write screenplays that aren't deliberately "matched" to society, but rather are "needed" by it. In that sense, have you always remained a "trendy" drama screenwriter?

I think that's right. It might sound a little arrogant to say that my dramas are needed by that particular era, but I always wanted to show love for that time period by writing screenplays.

-This is rather specific, but it almost seems like you were predicting the future with the conversations about eating insects and the Cannes Film Festival that appear in "In Love and Deep Water."

Well, I wrote the script in 2021 (laughs). Unlike TV drama screenplays that I write simultaneously as they're being broadcast, the script strangely started matching up with reality from around the time of the film "We Made a Beautiful Bouquet." Despite writing it much earlier, certain things in it would become popular around the time the film came out.

-Isn't that a really good thing?

Many good things may happen as a result, but as a screenwriter, I want people to wonder what a particular work is or means when it comes out. Ideally, people would finally understand it after about three years (laughs).

-I've heard that your screenwriting method includes creating detailed profiles of each character, even if they aren't directly related to the story.

I didn't do that this time. I wanted to change my approach to writing screenplays. Unlike drama series, with feature-length films, if you dig too deep into the characters it can take too long to get the story moving. That's why I wrote this screenplay centered on the story rather than the characters. That said, I did have something similar to a profile for each of them in my head.

-The very serious butler played by Ryo Yoshizawa seems like a particularly refreshing character, a type that hasn't often appeared in your past works.

I had some interest in the "butler story" genre, like Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day." People who serve others, like butlers, must be serious even when no one is watching, right? When I thought about that, I saw some humor there.

-Were there any specific works you referred to when writing the script for "In Love and Deep Water"?

I didn't really reference them, but at home recently I've been watching films directed by Ernst Lubitsch or starring Fred Astaire.

-In terms of genre, would those be screwball comedies?

That's right. From the time I wrote trendy dramas, a big question was how to make sophisticated romantic comedies in Japan that were like the Hollywood films of that time. It was challenging to make those sorts of chic conversations between men and women or scenes of lovely parties fit within the setting of Japan. I still have that desire to make those kinds of back-and-forth conversations and aphorisms fit within the context of the Japanese language.

-If you had the time and money, would you want to go on a cruise like the passengers on the ship in "In Love and Deep Water"?

Not at all. On a long cruise, you have to get to know the other passengers. I can't imagine getting friendly with strangers there. (laughs)

(Interviewer: Koremasa Uno)