A story of love, destiny, and sushi.
Little Samurai is the third film from writer/director Jesse Warn and producer Matthew Metcalfe. The pair first began working together some three years ago on their first production, 9 Across, a low budget prison thriller, and have since completed a number of music videos together, as well as a second short film entitled Her Iliad.
Despite having created two films on an ultra low budget, Little Samurai was always going to need a little bit more if it was going to be the story, rich in production design and value that the filmmakers had always envisioned that it would be. To this end it was submitted to the New Zealand Film Commission for production financing through the Short Film Fund, whereby it was given the green light for filming to begin in October of 1998.
Casting of a film with so many Japanese characters was always going to be a problem. However, the full extent of how difficult this would be did not become apparent until the search for the lead characters Keiko and Yoshi began. The search seemed beyond help, until the filmmakers called in acclaimed casting director Liz Mullane (The Frighteners, Lord Of The Rings) to aid them in their cause. After searching all of New Zealand and most of Australia, Liz was able to present a short list of actors for all parts, providing the filmmakers with a level of choice which ultimately lead to a cast that performed at every level. The lead role of Tony had been written especially with Young Hercules star Dean O'Gorman in mind. To this end when it was confirmed that Dean was available, production was pulled forward to enable Dean to shoot during the shows mid-season hiatus.
Upon completion of the films first cut, the filmmakers realised that they had something special on their hands and that it would be music that would give the film the magical feel that had been envisioned from the beginning. For this reason, director Jesse Warn, called upon acclaimed advertising scorer, Darren Poole of the Alt Design Group. Upon hearing his treatment of the score, both the director and producer knew that they were on to a winner. The final musical touches when then added by local all girl pop band, Mary, which gave the film a popular and accessible melody to bring the two lovers, Tony and Keiko together with at the end.