July 29, 2021

Faithspotting "Nine Days"

Faithspotting "Nine Days"

Kenny and Mike discuss the new theatrical film Nine Days, written and directed by first time filmmaker Edson Oda, who joins Mike and Kenny on the episode. Edson is of Japanese decent and was raised in Brazil.  A transcript of the interview...


Kenny and Mike discuss the new theatrical film Nine Days, written and directed by first time filmmaker Edson Oda, who joins Mike and Kenny on the episode. Edson is of Japanese decent and was raised in Brazil.  A transcript of the interview portion is available on the Faithspotting website. Nine Days opens in limited release on July 30 and in nationwide on Aug. 5th and 6th.

Note: The story deals with the issue of suicide and Edson discusses the suicide of a family member and his journey in understanding his relative and himself in that process.

Nine Days is the story of Will, (Winston Duke) a man who lived and struggled on earth, died and now has a position choosing which newly created souls will receive the opportunity for life on earth. This decision occurs whenever there is a death among those souls Will had selected and whose lives he follows.

With the tragic death of a favored soul Will selected for life, Will must select from the souls who are sent to his house. Each soul is in adult form with the body and personality they will develop. Will must decide whether to send those "tough" enough to survive in the world or those who might play a part of lessoning the suffering of others. 

Faith Issues Spotted:

The film presents a foundational and stark choice among people of faith, to live through the struggles and darkness of life with Paul's "Rejoice in the Lord Always" spirit from Philippians 4, or the worldly spirit that sees darkness overcoming the Light that is Christ and the hope of the Gospel. What are the costs of each perspective?

What is the Righteous choice of candidates? 

A discussion of Christ figure(s)

Recovery of Joy in the midst of grief and loss. 

Transcript

Faithspotting Interview with Nine Days writer/director Edson Oda

Mike: Take a listen to this interview. It's great.

Mike: We are proud to have with us on the phone, Edson Oda, he is the writer director of Nine Days.

Kenny: Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your rollout.

Mike: And one thing I want to get out of the way because I know not personally from doing these, but I'm sure you're just like, okay, here's another one and there's another one and here's another interview. I'll tell you that Kenny and I were movie junkies, we can talk films intelligently as opposed to somebody who's just kind of moving up the ranks trying to be a journalist. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Kenny: Uh, thanks for putting the pressure

Edson: You might know more than me.

Kenny: What we do is we look at secular films from a faith perspective, that's what we're doing.

Mike: And give you an idea a couple of weeks ago, the last episode of this season we had, we did Pulp Fiction, so it's not like God is Dead or anything like that.

Edson: Wow.  So interesting. The connection with religion in terms of redemption and then later when Samuel Jackson’s character, I think about that all the time, it's very cool that you guys did that.

Kenny: You must have heard our episode because that's what we talked about. So, uh

Edson: Oh interesting.

Kenny: This (Nine Days) is a very powerful film for me, and I was trying to think about it and put it in terms. You've heard of romances and bromance as well, I've decided I have “Cine-mances.” I have romances with films. This film is my current Cine-mance, and it's more than just liking the film, it's more than just loving the film. It's having a connection with the film, having chemistry with the film, this film. I've seen it twice now and I am  just drawn to it and it's very powerful um and just a a wonderful achievement and we congratulate you.

Edson: Thank you, thank you, appreciate it.

Kenny: So we were thinking and preparing for this morning we've read and we know the film is based loosely or was inspired by your your uncle's suicide and and that and perhaps you're dealing with it and families dealing with it. It does so wonderfully. It allows, you know, and showing how to get through those times and the impact of those times. Looking at the film, does it reflect what you went through like, like you wanted it to?

Edson: I think it was interesting because it's kind of a discovery, you know, my connection with my uncle because I think when he committed suicide, uh first reaction was just like this guy did something that is unacceptable. He's kind of a, I can’t be like him. It was like, you know, it was my I think the first reaction is just like he wasn't strong enough to survive the world and don't be like him.

Edson: And it was like during like the following years, it was just like trying to be like him. He became the two side you kind of in my mind he became a failure and I think after you know it started dealing with my own you know problems and going through things that he went through as well and it was like in a position of more like desperation and you know struggle I realized okay so that's what he kind of went through you know. And uh and that's when I I felt like more empathy towards him rather than just trying to avoid be like him or seen him like a loser. I just like felt like uh okay so there was a reason he went through this have more empathy to him you know? And then I think from that empathy for the first time I really felt connected to him.

Mike: He was a lot more than just a suicide.

Edson: Yeah, yeah. And I think that from that empathy was just saying like, okay, so I am a little bit like him. He's a little bit like me, you know, from that connection. I think a could write Will in that sense. And I think was from writing Will and going to this journey, you know, with him and with all those feelings and thoughts that allow me like to grow. I think grow as well as a human being. And it wasn't like it was pleasurable and like the movie when you watch it, not how pleasurable, but I think that's kind of a necessary to just uh figure things out.

Kenny: very much necessary. And it was even though you the film is in one location is very much a a journey film where you know, typically you going to journey and you learn about yourself and your changed even though it took place in that one house. Uh there is much growth.

Mike: Lots of arcs going on with the different characters which is something you don't always see. I thought that was very cool as well.

Edson: Oh thank you.

Mike: Yeah, of course. Yeah, jumping ahead to the end of the film, and I don't think I'm giving anything away. Why walt Whitman? Where did that come from?

Edson: Yeah, it's interesting because I was born and raised in Brazil so we're not supposed to know, know about much about Walt Whitman. But I love this movie called Dead Poet’s Society.

Mike: Oh yeah,

Edson: I don’t know if you guys watched it. And uh there is like you know one scene Robin Williams with Ethan Hawke? They're just talking about the yawp, yawp, like the it was in my head.

Mike and Kenny: Yeah. Yeah.

Edson: It was always like in my head.

Dead Poet’s Society Audio Clip: Now for those of you who don't know a yawp is a loud cry or yell. Now Todd, I would like you to give us a demonstration of a barbaric yawp. Come on, you can't yawp sitting down. Let's go, Come on, up, you got get in yawping stance. A yawp. No, not just a yawp, a Barbaric YAWP. Uh yawp. Come on, louder. Yawp, no that's a mouse. Come on louder. Yawp. Good God boy yell like a man. YAWP!! There it is.

Edson: When I was looking for another powerful poem that it was almost like I was, it was interesting because I was looking for this yawp, you know from, from a person just like you know, yawp for his life, you know, just like yelling and being, feeling alive, you know. So then I look at this poem and uh he was, the whole poem was about, it is almost all about yelling to the nature of what's around you, just feeling alive with like everything that surrounds you. And, and at the time was just like, oh yeah, this is a great poem, but not necessarily, it will be the poem in the end of the movie.

Edson: So, I was telling myself just okay, I'm gonna just leave it there. But at some point, we're going to find something more interesting. We never found thinking more interesting. But, I remember talking to Winston (Will) and I said, yeah, I put this poem there, but whatever it feels like you feel more connected with just, you can, you can go with it. And we, he looks for some other, you know, he comes from theater as well for some other plays and everything, but never felt like that right? The same way that, you know, some of myself felt. Uh, and then in the end we just went with it and that. Yeah. And then we, uh, it is what you saw in the end of the movie.

Kenny: It really was a powerful and there were several Yawps. I hadn't thought of that, that film. But yeah, that, that does help. I wanted to ask you just about the names, how you came to the names, uh, Will and Emma and, and even Nine Days if you could share them.

Edson: Okay. Yeah, Will it comes a little bit of from the “will” of someone, you know, almost will the choice, you know, it's kind of a, almost like what is inherited. It was part of like the human being, you know, having this will, it's also about the future, you know, but I think it's more about the will of the force is really know their stuff. Emma is interesting and it's like, um, possibly because the anagram for in Portuguese, Emma can become amme, which in Portuguese means love, so I think there's some connection to that.

Edson: Nine Days is interesting because it's kind of a number that just appear in front of me in the sense of okay, it is very interesting number, there's so many different interpretations and uh it was in my hands for I kind of think of like for some reason or so many different meanings, you know. I just felt like as an interesting energy to it. And then later I just started like looking for like meanings, there's so  different meaning in terms of uh you know, love, in terms lucky, in terms of uh even like birth, you know, not nine months to be born, but it never, you know, I feel like this needs to mean this, what this means to me that I felt like this strong number and has so much energy around it and then, and then I said, okay, what we're going to put out there and then people can give the meaning that they want to the numbers. And and I think that's where I am right now.

Mike: I love that in films, the interpretation. You know, the viewer walks away with their own interpretation. I think that makes it richer.

Edson: Yeah, a lot about this movie is like that.

Kenny: since you've given us that permission. So I was looking up and and just the names so Will also the I guess the meaning if you look at it is from the Germanic is “desiring peace” and it's “a resolute protector.” I think that is very much Will, even when he's wounded, he has that desire.

Kenny: And then Emma is, one of the meetings is universal or complete and she certainly does that with him and helps him. And then the nine, it also can a lot of people symbolize it with being a state of completeness and then Christian understanding that there are nine fruits of the spirit. And it's those fruits that, that make a complete being if you will or all the spiritual gifts, the complete gifts of spirit or nine. So just wonderful fun connections. I think even with those names,

Mike: The last question that I'll ask you here Edson, it's and and this is one that we always ask folks, but I think it's so important because us who are into movies and you just have grown up on movies, what movies made you? So every single person that gets into film, either loving it or making them. You are shaped. You are formed by movies that maybe you watch when you grew up or maybe as you were going through film school or what movies made you as a person if not even a filmmaker?

Edson: Oh, wow. That's a great question. Better than the influences that make you. I would put it was what was great about Back to the future. It was like, yeah, it was just amazing. Just to see like the visual effects.

Mike: Everything connects. That is such a brilliant film. Yes.

Edson: Especially about Back to the Future Two. Yeah. Because I think all because of the visual effects, and what they're doing. And at the time I wanted to be inventor, you know, something like that create things. And so it was, it was just amazing watching it. And I think it's also, you know, um, you know, getting older, like a movie that really resonates um, City Lights like Charlie Chaplin, which is uh, the one with his, uh, going well with someone who's blind and, and uh, and try to do everything. It's kind of a very platonic and, but so selfless and selfish love when he really wants the person to just wants, what's best for the person, You know, it was very like interesting.

Mike: and the first thing that Kenny and I said when we watched your film, we felt a lot of Terrence Malik and that a lot of yeah, yeah,

Edson: 100% 100% 100%. It was like Tree of Life is just like an amazing film with when I went to watch it. Woe what is was this and that it was so much about the human condition and everything. Uh, another movie that shaped me, what was coming to me, the Matrix? I remember watching in the movie theater, it was just like, it was kind of a transcendental experience. Like it was, it was kind of spiritual of just being there, you know, and figuring out about the world. And then even after I left the movie theater was just thinking about it and what is this we are in the nature, you know, it’s just mind blowing in the time.

Edson: I Remember like yeah, Kurosawa always like a big fan of Kanazawa, like um Rashomon and Seven Samurai. And it's interesting because they're not movies, but like a MANGA and Anime like Dragon Ball Z. You know that they also like shape me so much in terms of what, what in my childhood and somehow, they influenced me to decide to become a filmmaker.

Mike: and I love that too because you know, you have so many filmmakers, you know, all of these films, school films shaped who I am and that that's a bunch of bull. I mean everybody has films that they grew up with that just like you said back to the Future, Dead Poets Society Matrix. These are all films that, you know, really? You walk away from them, and they stay with you and you can't shake them. And I completely agree with you with those films too. I think that's awesome.

Kenny: Great films.

Edson: Those are, those are more like when I was younger, I think when you, when you started like growing older, I just like having other films as well.

Mike: Sure.

Kenny: I was going to ask you just about the casting, did you have any of these cast members in mind when you're writing or was it through auditions or how did you? I think the cast is just perfect. Just impressed with everybody.

Edson: Yeah, not they are amazing. It's just no, when I write, I don't write with up like anyone in mind specifically. It's interesting because then I think it's great because then I don't feel like it needs to be like this or that and I'm more open when I have like conversation and and uh some of the rolls we auditioned, but mostly I like the way we did it just like more like through a conversation. It’s interesting because the conversation is almost like spiritual conversation in a way that wasn't, it wasn’t about the movie, but it was about like a lot about like the world feel, why we make want to make this movie and how we connect to the piece. Uh were like very intimate conversation that have like uh, the people who are interested in playing the role.

Kenny: It seemed like there needed to be chemistry between I guess, uh, mainly between Winston Duke and the character since he was mainly the ones with them. But since some of that is I read there's some improvisation so that that was necessary that they had a chemistry and we're able to work together.

Edson: Yeah. No 100%. It's interesting because we first wanted cast Winston with Will. And then we start just giving scenes you know and the like around and just like Okay so and it was interesting that even when we are Will when the candidates the candidates the way we play some scenes is more like Will is feeding them with you know information or you know things he does to just get a reaction from them from them. And then the candidates they were just sometimes don't know what he would do, you know? So especially in the interview process is just like sometimes just improvising and they're like you know like blank slates. They're just like seeing that for the first time. So it was very interesting to see their reactions and what they would come up, you know, from that interaction. So yeah it was very very cool to see it happen.

Kenny: What about just the production design? I mean has a very distinct feel and and look was adding your mind when you were crafting the script or did it come together one shall we're setting up production or shared a little bit about that.

Edson: I think I usually work with like motifs and like reasons for things to be the way they are and uh my my main direction was the house represents like who will was and it's like it would represent the time and the period when he died. So like it's almost like he died in a prison in that period of time like memories maybe you know things that he went to. So that's why you see like the VHS and you know all the eighties things like the tube TVs and everything and the on top of that for me it was very interesting, like okay so if there is this house is kind of a memory uh like a memory. So how do you show a memory on screen? And it's interesting because usually think of memory of is like a you know a picture of what happened when it's not. It's more like our interpretation of what happened. So it's it's almost like more like a painting. So how can you show this painting in film? How can I show this kind of a very subjective environment, while you see it's interesting because you see it and it's still reality but doesn't feel 100% reality like 90% reality. So it's almost like how do you show a painting on film? So that was kind of my direction.

Kenny: The color. I mean it was just a beautiful shot, just the warm colors. I loved, especially the several shots, the sort of angelic with the halo shots with the person in the center and, and, and the projection tv color. That was just just so profound I thought, and really added to the field of the film.

Edson: Yeah. Wyatt Garfield? And uh, you know, Dan Hermansen, they're just like amazing. Uh, why was the charge of photography then was production line? And they just, for

Kenny: For me, there is almost a bit of an homage to uh the Green mile in that scene where John Coffee at the end is, you know, seeing the movie, I don't know if that was intentional or

Edson: Not intentional, but yeah, I love the movie as well. So it's interesting how, yeah, you're right. It's interesting how projections, you know, and there's there's like a fog and smoke there and that, like the John Coffee scene. Yeah, I know. But at the time, yeah, I wasn't, intentional.

Kenny: It was just, I've seen it a couple of times, reminded me, uh, I think I think both Mike and I think in films and sometimes music lines and film lines. But when I was watching it, I was reminded that line in Amadeus, when Salieri is describing one of the operas of of Mozart and he said, you know, “displace a single note and there would be diminishment.” Displace one scene, one line, one shot, and it would take away from the film. Everything that, on that screen is vital and critical and part of what makes this a special film.

Edson: Thanks man. You know, Amadeus like yeah, just one of one of the films that when I grew up, it was just like watching over over. I appreciate it.

Mike: yeah, that was one of the first films my, my mom said to me, she's like, Michael, I knew that you loved the film because after a 2.5 hour film, you never got up, wants to go to the bathroom. And it's like, that really was the first movie was like that, you know, that's pretty good as a kid. Yeah, I'm with you on that with Amadeus.

Edson: Yeah.

Mike: man, we really wish you the best of luck with this film. I mean it's great reception already and I'm cautiously optimistic. You know, people are getting back to theaters and I think this is a good time to release it. So we're really wishing the best of luck.

Edson: Thank you so much.

Kenny: Have you gotten good feedback so far? I know it did well at Sundance and seems to be getting some buzz.

Edson: Yeah, no, it's great. I think that the reception is being amazing and you know, talking to people and I think that the best feedback I get is like from like people who watched the movie and somehow they, you know, remember at Sundance just going out and people were just recognizing me and asking can give you a hug?

Edson: just like people saying to me like, you know, telling these things about like their own struggles, they're paying and, and you know, losses. Yeah, they're experiencing that. Yeah, that makes award to me, you know, and uh, hopefully, you know, more people are gonna watch him or if you're going to be touched by story and uh, looking forward to it.

Kenny: Well, I'm going to describe it to folks when I spread the word, uh, that it's one of those films that really you need to experience it by letting the film walk beside you, not trying to guess where it's heading and not looking back and asking too many questions that where they come from, where do they stay? But just to allow the film to walk with you. And I think if they do that, then it will be a profound experience.

Edson: Thank you so much. Yeah, I really appreciate it.

Kenny: thanks again. And good luck we'll be talking about it.

Edson: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Mike: All right, take care Edson.

Edson Oda.

Screenwriter, Director

Edson Oda is a Japanese-Brazilian writer/director based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of São Paulo - bachelor's in Advertising – and completed his Master of Fine Arts in Film and Production at the University of Southern California.

His first feature film NINE DAYS - staring Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgard and Tony Hale - premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2020 (U.S. Dramatic Competition), winning the Walt Salt Screenwriting Award.
Directing Filmography:
Nine Days
2017A sensorial ride (Short)
2015Like (Short)
2015The Man of Death (Short)
2013I'm NOT Hitler (Short)
2013Malaria (Short)
2012Braille (Video short)
2012/VThe Writer (Short)
2010Laugh and Die (Short)
2009O Nascimento (Short)

Oda also wrote, directed and supervised projects for Philips, Telefonica, Movistar, InBev, Whirlpool, Johnson & Johnson, Honda, Nokia.

He’s a Sundance Screenwriters Lab Alumni and Latin Grammy nominated director for best music video.

Edson is represented by CAA and The Gotham Group