San Diego Comic-Con International 2009
Tetsuo The Bullet Man Panel

by Evan Miller,

Panelists: Shinya Tsukamoto (Director), Masayuki Taneshima (Producer)

As attendees filed into the programming room, promotional postcards for the the third film in the live action cyberpunk Tetsuo series, Tetsuo the Bullet Man, were passed to the audience. 13 minutes after the panel's allotted start time, a staff person took to the stage and showed clips from the first two Tetsuo films to the audience.

Tsukamoto and Taneshima were welcomed to the stage to talk about the forthcoming film. Tsukamoto admitted that Hollywood approached him after Tetsuo II was released to discuss an "American" Tetsuo production. It's been 16 years since then, of course, and now the film is finally nearing completion. Referring to Comic Con, the director talked about how happy he is to screen scenes of the film at "the same convention where Star Wars was first screened." Taneshima talked about the Tetsuo character's history and its popularity over the past 20 years. "The new film will be bringing a new style Tetsuo for the 21st Century" said Taneshima, who reiterated how happy he is that the film's first promotional event is Comic Con.

Discussing the subtitle for the third film, Tsukamoto said that he went with the title The Bullet Man since it reflects the personality of the "Tetsuo" character in the film. The director also earned some laughs from the audience when he admitted that "Tetsuo translates as 'Iron Man', so we have to use Tetsuo and then a subtitle to avoid confusion with other franchises. Taneshima also took time to show the audience some of the concept illustrations written for the project before it started. The director said that he tried to go with an American production team and setting to reflect the new American staff on the project, but decided to set the story for the film in Tokyo because it's known as a "cyberpunk city" all over the world.

Despite the involvement of production company Asmik Ace (of which Taneshima is a member), American producers and other staff, Tsukamoto stated that much of the production aspects of the film were still managed personally by him. "I'm stubborn and like to do things in my own way," said the Director. One big change, however, is that the forthcoming film will be in English "so that fans around the world can enjoy it sooner," said Taneshima. Appropriately, the film hasn't been introduced to the Japanese media yet and was "shot in secret," said Tsukamoto. Filming for the project began in September 2008 and wrapped this April.

In keeping with the English-language focus of the film, the story focuses on an American businessman in Japan and his mysterious family history. The lead role, Anthony, is played by newcomer Eric Bossick, a photographer and model who resides in Japan. "In the audition, Eric's charisma was second to none," said Tsukamoto, who likened his business-like character in the audition to the character he was cast for. The story focuses on Anthony discovering his family history in the wake of an accident involving his son's death.

Production on the film is slated to wrap in September, after which the film will be submitted to film festivals in Japan and worldwide in 2010.

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