Interview
Eiko Tanaka
Shinji Kimura's Deathtic 4, from Genius Party. © Beyond C
Asked about the key to the studio's success, Tanaka answers, "I am still not sure if we are successful, but the reason that we could keep going so far is because we have been always focusing on making high quality films that we really want to make. That basic policy has stayed the same since the opening of Studio 4°C, and every single employee at the studio perfectly understands it. For instance, even though the director gave the OK for a scene, the production manager was not satisfied with the work. He would come to me for my opinion to pursue higher quality. The production manager was trying to convince the director via me. The stubborn desire for the best possible quality and the devoted effort for reaching that point is the backbone of Studio 4°C.

"Another reason for Studio 4°C being successful might be that we are not a profit-seeking company. We have not tried to grow bigger, or to pursue profit, or to float the company on the stock market. We keep the number of our management and controller staff to a minimum to save the budget for the production of the film. Our policy has been that the film is made by the creators, but not by the capital. In spite of our intention, the studio has expanded, had more employees, and the number of film productions has increased. Naturally there are issues with managing larger production budgets. But we are confident in cost controlling and the artists are also fully aware of the deadlines and the limitations of the budget. I believe that we have reached where we are now because we have been producing the best possible pieces within a budget."

Over the years Studio 4°C have handled a wide range of motion pictures, and they generally haven't had to worry about finding projects.

"Most of the time, people usually come to us so we rarely have to make sales approaches. No matter if the project comes from the customer orders or from our own, new projects always come in at the right time. So we do not have to ponder to choose one project from many candidates. For example, the idea of the Spriggan was brought in by Hirotsugu Kawasaki. Previously, Madhouse had come to the conclusion that Spriggan was too difficult to make. We were moved by the passion of Mr. Kawasaki, so I personally called Shogakukan to gain the production rights, and managed to complete the film. Arite Hime was kept in the mind of Sunao Katabuchi for a long time before being produced. Mind Game was picked when Koji Morimoto and I coincidentally found the comic book by Robin Nishi together at my friend's house.

"Not to gather ideas for projects first, then choose one from a list. Not to go against the flow is our way of dealing with the project. It usually ends up working well when we select the idea that comes in at the right time." It is opposite from the marketing-oriented business style, like turning popular comic book stories into an animation, or making popular TV series into a movie.
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