In the summer of 2011, I left Hawaii and moved to a small town in Shizuoka, Japan. My intention was to shoot a film there after getting a better handle on the language.
My producing partner, Hiroko, helped me get settled in. She even helped me find a job teaching English. To save money I bought a bicycle and peddled to the various middle and elementary schools everyday and worked on the script that would eventually become Midori in Hawaii.
A few families befriended me and invited me to stay with them for various periods of time. They were kind and generous and my time with them helped me enormously in the screenwriting process.
The Japanese have a notoriously unique culture. I think westerners are often charmed and slightly intimidated by our seemingly opposite approaches to problem solving and life in general, but I was most struck by our similarities. In so many ways, the families who welcomed me into their lives were just like my family, however, the dynamics played out a little differently. The “volume” may have been turned down a bit in
interpersonal conflicts, but the undergirding factors in those conflicts were anything but foreign. So I put those elements in my script. One idea that began to emerge was how our families define us, whether we like it or not.
A sibling relationship will most likely be the longest relationship in a person’s life.
Your brothers or sisters came from the same place. They share your stories. They
remember what you remember, though maybe slightly differently. Because they’ve always known you, they have a more complete and, perhaps, less accurate simulation of you, living in their minds.
You might be a doctor now, but your brother remembers when you pooped your pants at that birthday party. No matter how much we change, our families can’t help but lag behind in their conception of us.
We are always rebelling against those mental versions of ourselves, but to an extent they also define us. Everyone lives in the tension between who we are and who other people’s memories say we are. I think that’s what Midori in Hawaii is about.