At the end of this screening, the amazing Sandra Schulberg, who was the head of IndieCollect, who I’ve known for years and years, stood up and said, “I’m going to restore your film.” She said she volunteered to do it as part of the Jane Fonda Fund For Women Directors, which I knew nothing about. Afterward, she came up to me, and we talked about it, and I went, “Wow, that’s great.” That was November 2019. We all know what happened after that before she had a chance to even start working on it.
So in January 2022, I contacted her and said, “I guess this is the time to go do it.” It’s very hard to do things like this, but she said she would try to raise the money. I said I had an idea, and contacted Carol Burnett and also Dolly Parton, who I’ve been working with for many, many years, and they both said they would pitch in the money. So that’s how it started.
I’ve mentored a lot of filmmakers, and I always say to young filmmakers, I think every film has its own life. It has its own kind of existence. People who are trying to get their movies made, they spend years. Sometimes they have a script, and they never get it made, and then all of a sudden, it takes on its own life, and suddenly it gets made. That’s how “Tokyo Pop” got made. I mean, I tried. I had thought of making it for a very long time. Then all of a sudden, it was its time. I think the same thing happened with the restoration. It was just the right moment to do it after all those years. It just happened seamlessly.
You had already been in Japan for a few years at the point that it was made, correct?
I’d been going back and forth since 1977.
During those ten years you had been visiting the country, the economy was hugely changed. Was that part of the inspiration behind what you wanted to capture with this film?
It really came from the bubble era. When everything was bubbly. There was just money for everything. My husband, Kaz Kuzui, and I started a film distribution company. Our friend called and said, “We have this movie ‘Stop Making Sense,’ and we can’t seem to sell the video. Do you want to release it in a theater?” I was kind of like Mickey Rooney. I turned to Kaz and said, “Let’s put it in a theater; we’ll have a show!” And literally, Kaz went to a theater and convinced them to show at one time at night after the theater closed. We stood on street corners handing out flyers for it ourselves. And it turned into a huge, huge hit. It showed at nine o’clock at night because, at that point, the movie theaters would close at nine o’clock. “Stop Making Sense” became such a huge hit that people would pay to just stand in the lobby and listen to it and dance. That’s how we became film distributors.