PAN is a mid-length fiction film (35:47 min) that was shot in June 2012 on a shoestring budget after six months of planning and preparation by director and producer Motoko Fukuyama and writer Azumi Hasegawa. It was filmed over the course of four days on a set built within an abandon grocery store. The production was made possible in large part by the generosity of a wonderful community of talented friends who donated their time and expertise. The film was edited by Fukuyama and completed in August 2013 and had its premier in November 2013 at Anthology Film Archive in NYC.
The script is loosely based on the famous shadow-chasing scene in J. M. Barrie’s play Peter and Wendy and it’s subsequent reiteration in many Peter Pan adaptations. The film employs versions of those famous characters to explore issues surrounding mother-daughter relationships, teenage sexual awaking, and the loss of childhood innocence in the context of the horror and suspense genres. New York base designer Joseph Logan designed the title cards for the film. The triangle used as an A in the title font reflects the relationship between the three main characters: Daughter, Mother, and Pan. The title Pan is repeatedly evoked visually throughout the film: as a camera action; in the motion of Mother’s cassette player; in the family’s panoramic photos; through main the character Pan; and in reference to Pan, the Greek god.
Fukuyama approaches storytelling by beginning with a set of disparate visual and aural elements that she wishes to explore and building a story around them. The original idea for Pan arose from a fascination with light and shadow and their movement through space. The interplay between interior and exterior light, such as the headlights of passing car shinning through a bedroom window at night and casting shadows across the room, plays a crucial role in both the narrative and visual space of the film. The projection of shadows – and the idea that they can appear at times as if they are self-animated, far separated from the object and light source they have originated from – is an integral recurring motif that is introduced in the opening scene, where a group of children chase each other’s shadows as part of a playground game in the main character’s nightmare, and explored in a variety of scenarios throughout the film.