Finding Beauty in the Rubble: A Short Documentary

The 2 Criminals film crew is pleased to release Finding Beauty in the Rubble a short documentary featuring Mrs. Fukuoka, a remarkable lady who survived the huge tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

Mrs. Fukuoka’s home and most of her neighborhood was washed away by the tsunami. Many of her neighbors died. After the disaster, Mrs. Fukuoka found meaning and hope by making jewelry from “sea glass” debris found on the beach.

Inspired by an ancient biblical prophesy that The Creator God would “give beauty instead of ashes” the theme of Finding Beauty in the Rubble relates to the 2 Criminals story.

I’m deeply grateful to the many people who were part of making this project happen.

We could not have created this film without the help of many supporters including those who backed the project on Kickstarter. Thanks so much!

Mika Takana introduced us to Mrs. Fukuoka and helped with production. And, the core 2 Criminals film crew — Matthew T. Burns, Atsuko Tateishi, Todd Fong, Andrew Benton, Esther Yomoah, and Nancy Nethercott — were a joy to work with and did fabulous work.

With Gratitude,
Paul Nethercott, Producer


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2 Criminals Trailer

Announcing the first 2 Criminals trailer. Please view and share it with your friends.

Many thanks to all those who were part of making this trailer, you are much appreciated.

2 Criminals (official trailer) from Matthew T Burns on Vimeo.

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Thanks for reading the 2 Criminals blog! We appreciate your interest. This week’s blog post is a Q and A (see below). If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask. To get in touch, click on the “connect” menu item and send us a message.

Q. What is the theme of the film?

A ruthless hit man and an arrogant thief for the yakuza (Japanese Mafia) volunteer in Japan’s radioactive disaster zone and find redemption.

2 Criminals is a story of finding beauty in the ruble of disaster. It is a rare story of hope and transformation within the deadly yakuza world, based on interviews with former yakuza members.

Flower Poster Eng

2 Criminals Film Poster “Letting go…”

Q. Why are you making this film?

Stories connect with people. They influence our thinking and our behavior. They change us and they change how we live which means they affect culture. There are many examples of films shaping culture.

In Japan, the film “Sister Act” made gospel music wildly popular.  Today it is an established genre in Japan. Thousands of Japanese want to sing Black Gospel so they join local choirs.

Hula Girls is Japanese film based on the true story of a group of girls who learn hula dancing to save their small town. This popular, award-winning film made Hula dancing popular in Japan.

Credited by historians as a key factor in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the silent film Birth of a Nation had a very negative impact on culture.

The filmmakers want 2 Criminals to bring healing and hope to the great nation of Japan. We want people to watch our film and realize, “If there is hope for those two men, there is hope for me too.” After seeing our movie, we want to hear that yakuza have quit the gang. We want people from all walks of life to find hope.

Q. What have you accomplished so far?

We have a wonderful core team (two full-time staff, three part-time staff and two interns) and numerous volunteers. We also have a long list of people who have expressed interest in being part of the crew that will shoot the film.

We have raised over $120,000, completed five versions of the script, created a bi-lingual 2 Criminals website, and we have prepared high quality printed material. Printed material includes flyers in Japanese and English and a 12 page “Film Presentation Booklet.”

We have held many meetings in Japan and around the world which is building grass roots support for the film.

Q. Why is it taking so long to get the film made?

I sincerely apologize that we are taking much longer than initially indicated. Frankly, we were way too optimistic with our timeline drastically underestimating how much time and effort it was going to take to make this story into a film.

We are committed to getting the film made.

We have made a great deal of progress, but we have a long way to go. While it is impossible to know for sure when we will finish the film, it is our goal to have it done by the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

Q. How do you plan to get the film done?

We are constantly sharing the vision and asking people for help and advice. We will continue reaching out to those who care about Japan and believe in the importance of telling redemptive visual stories.

Collaboration is key. A university in the USA has expressed strong interest in collaborating with us on the film. If this moves ahead it will be a big step towards completing the film.

We are preparing a crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter.

Shinada & Doumae Having Dinner together in Tokyo

Shinada & Doumae in Tokyo

We have engaged a PR firm to help with promotion of the film.

Q. What is a highlight of making this film so far?

Getting to know the two remarkable men who are the inspiration for our story.

Q. What are some of your challenges?

We have made two promotional videos that took a great deal of effort and time. However, due to lack of permission to use a small portion of the footage in these two videos we have not been able to release them on the Internet.

Preparing an excellent script is very challenging. We have made a great deal of progress. The sixth draft promises to be a big improvement.

Finding 100% of the funding we need to finish the film is another huge challenge.

Q. What about distribution of the film?

While we would like to secure a distribution deal now, it is more likely that we will be successful after the film is made. With the goal of getting noticed and landing a distribution deal, we plan to enter 2 Criminals into key film festivals. We will have the option of making DVDs. There are other ways of getting our film in front of people including online and touring with one of our former yakuza men.

Q. What is something you are thankful for?

The hundreds of people who have helped in one way or another with this project. We are — more or less — half way to our goal of getting this film made. That is amazing! A huge accomplishment.

Q. How can I find out more about the film?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Please use the contact form on this website to reach out to the filmmakers.

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A “Professional” Approach

2 Criminals Concept Art

Often times when I’m talking about the 2 Criminals project, people ask what it will be “like.” There are many possible answers to that question, but generally I think people are wondering what previously-released films 2 Criminals will be comparable to. Of course I hope to generate something new and something never before seen with 2 Criminals, but I thoroughly believe in the notion of imitating those who came before us. Creating successful films is every bit as much a science as it is an art.

The closest film, tonally, to what I hope to achieve with 2 Criminals is The Professional. In The Professional, a contract killer’s life is turned upside down by a 12-year old girl who needs his protection… and his love.  Somewhat similar to the director of The Professional, Frenchman Luc Besson, I am a foreigner looking to make a film that portrays the quirks of organized crime, set in a country that I’m very much culturally removed from (Luc shot his film in NYC). The Professional also has in common with 2 Criminals a delicate, refreshing love story that contrasts realistic and frightening violence.

I am astounded by the way Besson seamlessly shifted gears from dark to light. His protagonists, Leon and Matilda, both went through a refreshing arc of maturity and growth throughout the duration of the 110 minute film, as well. Both of them discovered the power of true, self-sacrificial love amid an austere world of flying bullets and corrupt authority figures. The Professional was a film that refused to adhere to the usual constraints of the gangster genre, or standard love story expectations. And it resonated with cultures all over the world! It also launched the career of future Best Actress winner Natalie Portman, it opened all sorts of doors for Gary Oldman, Jean Reno and Luc Besson, and The Professional continues to touch and inspire people to this day with subsequent special edition and blu-ray releases.

I believe The Professional serves as a fantastic model to aspire to with the creation of 2 Criminals. The unlikelihood of two yakuza members leaving behind their violent past to serve survivors of a tsunami is a story that defies stereotypes and genre limitations. And, like The Professional, it’s an inspiring tale that insists there is hope, even in the ugliest of situations. This is a notion that I adhere to, and hope to instill in the message of 2 Criminals.

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Thanks! & 2 Criminals Progress Report

2 Criminals is a feature-length film in Japanese. We anticipate finishing the film in early 2015.

Table picture

Shinada & Doumae

A big “THANKS!” to the many people who are part of getting 2 Criminals made. This amazing journey began in April of 2012 when an international team of filmmakers interviewed two disaster relief volunteers — Shinada and Doumae — who used to be Yakuza (see photo). Those interviews inspired us to begin working on a film based on their lives.

Since then a good deal of financial, moral and in-kind support has already come in toward the production of 2 Criminals.  We’ve had graphic designers, photographers, production assistants, IT people, cooks and artists of all types volunteer their time and talents to help us out.  The excitement for this project is energizing and it inspires us to go the extra mile in all we do.  We believe that this story is one that can bring hope and healing not just to the country of Japan, but to anybody striving to make better decisions and live a happier life.

Matthew T. Burns has finished the 5th draft of the script. Now our focus is on fundraising and preparing to shoot the film on location in Japan.

We have raised over $110,000 in donations. To initiate a plan for shooting the film, we need to raise considerably more than that. At this time we are working on budget details and looking for partners.

Our goal is to shoot before the end of 2014 which would put us in position to finish the film in 2015.

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2 Criminals Producer Taking Film Course in Los Angeles

Act One LogoProducer Paul Nethercott is enrolled in the Act One “Producing & Entertainment Executive Program.” The course offers a comprehensive overview of the industry, access to established film professionals, and a highly coveted internship where practical industry experience is gained. The Act One “Producing & Entertainment Executive Program” is an invaluable opportunity for Nethercott to grow as a filmmaker.

Nethercott answered some questions about the course:

Q. What is Act One?

Nethercott: Act One is an Non Profit Organization based in Los Angeles, CA. The mission of Act One is “to create a community of Christian professionals for the entertainment industry who are committed to artistry, professionalism, meaning, and prayer, so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture.”

Q. What makes Act One a valuable opportunity?

Nethercott: Instructors at Act One are experienced professional filmmakers. However, what makes Act One exceptional is the commitment to making high quality redemptive films. In other words, films made from a Christian perspective that are meaningful, artistic, compelling, and have high

Act One Panel Discussion with Thomas Parham, Jan Jensen, Steven Gerse, John Bauman, David Thomas

production values. I am here to grow in my ability to make high quality redemptive films that will impact the nation of Japan.

Q. Where is your internship?

Nethercott: My internship is at “1019 Entertainment” which is led by two prominent producers who are Christians — Terry Bottwick and Ralph Winter. Being at 1019 is a wonderful opportunity to learn what it is like to produce films in a professional context. I am thrilled to be there.

Q. What does this mean for the 2 Criminals film project?

Nethercott: The challenges of making a feature-length film are significant. The Act One program is an opportunity to gain knowledge of the craft of filmmaking, access to a large network of

Terry Brottwick & Ralph Winter, 1019 Entertainment

Terry Brottwick & Ralph Winter, 1019 Entertainment

professional filmmakers, and be in a strategic location (Los Angeles) to continue working on the film. This is an invaluable opportunity to move the 2 Criminals film project forward. I am honored and grateful to be a part of the Act One community and to do my internship at 1019 Entertainment.

Paul Nethercott is in LA from May 25 – August 18, 2014 when he plans to return to Tokyo.

Related Links:

Act One

1019 Entertainment


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