The Cinematography Podcast Episode 254: Dave Boyle

The Netflix series House of Ninjas has become a hit show, rising to #1 in the streaming service’s top 10 list. The story follows the Tawara family, who have been ninjas, or shinobi, for generations. Tragically, the oldest son and brother was seemingly killed six years before in a battle with their rivals, leading the Tawaras to stop being ninjas. But the family must fight together again as the rival clan gets more powerful and threatens the entire country.

Dave Boyle was first brought on as showrunner for House of Ninjas by an executive at Netflix Japan, who knew he was familiar with the culture. Dave’s second language is Japanese, which he studied as a Mormon missionary in Australia. He had written and directed a few independent Japanese American and Japanese language films, such as Man from Reno, Daylight Savings and Surrogate Valentine, which all took place in the U.S. This was his first experience with shooting anything in Japan. He was drawn to the tone of House of Ninjas, which combines both drama, action and violence with comedy and warmhearted playfulness. “Tone was the reason why we all wanted to make this project. It’s more than the plot mechanics and the story. It was all about creating this atmosphere, this tone that an audience could sink into and enjoy for many, many episodes. And so I think that tone was something that we were talking about from the very, very get-go and something that we really wanted to nail and get right.”

Once he was on board, Dave began working on the preproduction and show bible for House of Ninjas. The show bible had to be written in three weeks, which is a very fast process, especially since Dave knew the show’s foundation required a deep understanding of shinobi culture and history. He found the preproduction process in Japan to be much different from the U.S., with casting happening even before the show’s scripts were written. The script format in Japan read from right to left, and the top half of the page is left blank for the director to draw storyboards and a shotlist, as a clear way for the director to show what they’re planning to do.

House of Ninjas is available on Netflix.

Find Dave Boyle

Close Focus: A discussion of the Academy Awards wins for Hoyte van Hoytema, Godzilla Minus One, Ryan Gosling’s performance of “I’m Just Ken.”

The big industry news is that Japanese camera and lens manufacturer Nikon has just purchased RED, which has been quietly for sale for years. Nikon has been trying to break into motion picture for awhile, and it now seems likely with the purchase of RED that they’ll grow by acquisition. Nikon is currently more known for its lenses, and their glass will likely be present on more sets with Red cameras.

Ben’s short end: The channel Slice of Life on YouTube. The filmmakers have made several films, and include lots of tutorials showing their process such as with miniatures and compositing.

Illya’s short end: The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced the “Countering CCP Drones Act” which threatens to ban Chinese manufactured drones for safety reasons. The problem is, 80% of drones are Chinese and the number one drone company is DJI. Read about the controversy & DJI’s response.

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Podcast Credits:

Producer: Alana Kode

All web and social media content written by Alana Kode

Host and editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman

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Host: Ben Rock

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Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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