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Inside 'Shutter'


Shooting "Shutter" on Location in Tokyo
Director Masayuki Ochiai maps out a scene on the set of "Shutter."
Director Masayuki Ochiai maps out a scene on the set of "Shutter."
Bill Kaye/Regency Entertainment

Shooting in Tokyo had its pluses and minuses, according to producer Taka Ichise. "The shooting costs in Tokyo are relatively inexpensive," he says. "Since there is no union in the Japanese film industry, there are no rules and regulations for working hours for the cast and crew. And the crew members are all hard workers and have much passion." There were logistical issues, though. There aren't many soundstages in the area, and movie productions aren't allowed to block the streets, which made it difficult to set up the cast's trailers.

The production found a home at the Toho Company studios, where "Godzilla," "Mothra" and many of Akira Kurosawa's films were shot. Other locations included an abandoned hospital and empty old houses that provided suitably unsettling environments. "We were shooting in one apartment," remembers Rachael Taylor," and wouldn't turn the lights on between takes. It was scary in there, really dark, and everyone was bumping into each other. He's great with building tension -- he understands what creepy is."

Another key location was Mount Fuji, site of the pivotal car accident at the beginning of the film. The sequence was shot at 3 a.m. on a cold night, and the weather -- fog on the first day and snow on the second -- didn't exactly cooperate. The snowfall was a first for Taylor, who notes that the white stuff wasn't in the script. "But it really came down, so we had to use it, and I'm so glad," she says. "It was effective. So thank you, Mother Nature."

A few sequences required the actors to work with ghost stand-ins that would be replaced by computer images in postproduction. 'It's kind of fun, like being 6 years old and playing make-believe -- you just have to use your imagination and go with it," says Taylor.

But on the whole, the use of CGI was relatively small. "I believe there were 90 shots," says Ichise. "Most of them were used to enhance depictions of the ghosts, to add a sense of terror to the shots in the film."

While the horror aspect is a major part of "Shutter," Taylor stresses that it wouldn't work without a good story. "Even though there's the supernatural element to it, the rest of the drama is human drama," she says, "[It's a] relationship drama that asks the question 'How well do you really know this person?'"