> Behind the Scenes: DOKI DOKI       >> By Nate Jew - Mar. 16, 2005
Fun Facts

In Tokyo, commuters wait every day with the same group of strangers for the same seats on the same train ...until one day, things change.

Film Tip:
Eat lots of Pino ice cream to keep your spirits up.

Film Tip:
Drink lots of Aquarius sports drink.

   Yumi Endo on the JR
OU CAN SENSE IT IN A CROWD. A businessman thumbs through a library book. A beautiful girl sits across from you wearing headphones. You stare at your cell phone pretending to dial. And you begin to hear the loud silence.

DOKI DOKI is a film about these feelings. It examines the modern-day isolation we face and the connections we make to get out of our shell.

With the rise of the cell phone, the increasing distance between affordable housing and jobs, the anonymity of commuting, and the longer work hours more and more people realize this loneliness.

Indeed urban areas tend to heighten artificial feelings of a social life, where close proximity to people overshadows the reality of being by yourself. Just as medicine fixes ailments, 'tuning out' solves being isolated. And yet it feeds on itself in a recurring cycle until one day something changes.


To understand more about how DOKI DOKI was created, I talked with Chris Eska, the director, who had just returned from checking out the Sundance Film Festival.

Inspiration for DOKI DOKI was in part based on his own frustration with living in Los Angeles.

While living in southern California attending film school at UCLA, he became disillusioned with the momentary friendships and the loose connections. "We left everything and everyone behind, and found it very difficult to make meaningful friendships in L.A," Chris said. Seeking to break out of the monotony he took a year off to travel through India and Asia.

It was on this journey that he met many fascinating Japanese travelers on his journey and decided to visit them in Japan. There in Japan he heard stories of commuter life and how relationships even formed with people who had seen each other on the same train station for years.

 >> For those who experienced the universality of isolation and disconnection in the modern metropolis...

"One of the film's main themes is the importance of coming out of your shell and finding ways to make connections," Chris said.

Breaking out of your shell though involves a self-realization of where you are. This reflection can happen gradually or in a brief moment. To show this transformation, you need to have the right attitude, and for the film, the perfect cast.


Interestingly, Yumi Endo wasn't suppose to be the lead actress. Chris thought he had the perfect actress picked out while he was still in LA based on faxed headshots. Yet trying to make the most of the agent's time, Chris told him to bring the three girls in when he got to Tokyo. It was only after this auditioning that Chris knew Yumi was perfect for the role and not the other girl. "When Yumi Endo came in, my producer and I looked at each other and smiled because she was absolute perfection, far better than we could have ever imagined."

The lead actor Hayato Sugano, who plays Yosuke, was attending acting school when he sent in his resume. Sugano had never acted on film before and during the audition, "…he was very nervous and said he had "Samurai Spirit," said Chris. Yet the serious resume combined with a great audition put him on the cast.

   Hayato Sugano commuting on the JR

Sae Takenaka who plays Makiko the schoolgirl was a friend of the producer's friend and came in to read. "I had wanted one of the crew girls to be Makiko, but Sae's professionalism blew me away and I cast her on the spot."

Now that Chris had his cast, he set out to begin filming. I asked him about his relationship with his cast during the filming. He first explained the language differences. The three leads didn't speak English... (continued on page 2)

pages 1