We're filmmakers based out of Austin, Texas. And KUMIKO has been a labor of love for us for over a decade, in trying to get it made. KUMIKO is the story of a Japanese woman who leaves her home in Tokyo and ventures into the snowy wilderness of Minnesota on a quest for a mythical fortune. You can check out the trailer here as well as see where it's in theaters near you (the film is in select theaters in NY, LA, and Seattle, with more theaters to come): http://kumikothetreasurehunter.com/

It's loosely based on an urban legend that circulated online in 2001.

Go ahead and ask us anything.


THANKS so much for taking part, hopefully we provided some satisfying A's to your Q's. We tried to get to as many as possible, apologies if we missed a couple. Kumiko opens today(3/20) in NY, LA and Seattle with many more cities to follow. And if you like it please spread the word, this is a word-of-mouth sort of thing so we'll take all the help we can get! In the meantime if you're interested in checking our any of our previous work go to http://zellnerbros.com. Thank you!

Comments: 115 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

surrahmg16 karma

Genuinely curious, how many times did you watch Fargo during the ten years it took to make this film?

DavidZellner19 karma

We didn't watch it at all actually during that time, we only wanted it to be a conduit for Kumiko's journey, didn't want to do a winky riff on it...

dasruski7 karma

What were some challenges during production and what were some of the highlights?

DavidZellner17 karma

Some of the challenges included shooting in two different countries, in a foreign language, and filming in harsh winter conditions. However that's what we signed up for so it was an amazing experience. The first half of the film was shot in Tokyo, the second in Minnesota. We had entirely different crews for each unit and they were both fantastic to work with.

sexrockandroll5 karma

How did you decide to become filmmakers?

DavidZellner11 karma

I have a very narrow skillset, it's all we've ever known how to do! We've been making movies since we were little kids with a hurky VHS camera, and everything we've done since has been built upon that...

zebra885 karma

Beautiful movie! Any new projects in the works? What do you have going on that we can look forward to?

DavidZellner7 karma

Thank you! We have several in the works, it's just a matter of which one we can get launched first.

surrahmg2 karma

What are some of your favorite pets in other films? #TeamBunzo

DavidZellner5 karma

We love animals in films, if you place no expectations on an animal you'll get an amazing and natural performance every time. Watership Down and The Plague Dogs are two of our all-time favorite films, though animated, there was a heartwrenching humanity on display in each, with more emotional resonance than most live action films could ever hope for. There's an Itallian film called "LA QUATRO VOLTE" that came out a few years back which has possibly the most amazing dog performance I've ever seen. It's all in one several-minute take, and its performance is both completely natural and absolutely mind-blowing.

LiopleurodonJuice1 karma

How do I watch this movie in Canada?

DavidZellner3 karma

It will be released by Films We Like very soon! Just google and get the specific dates. Thanks for your interest!

Babirusa11 karma

Is Kumiko the film you've made that you're most proud of? If not, which one is?

DavidZellner2 karma

I think so, because it took so incrediby long to make. We had our own endless quest in trying to get this film off the ground for so many years. It's deeply personal to us for the sheer perserverance involved in willing it into existence. That said, with every new project we do we want it to be our new favorite!

inu3691 karma

The movie sounds awesome! How long have you guys been working to get it up and running?

DavidZellner1 karma

We've been at it off and on since 2001 when we first heard about the urban legend...

DavidZellner1 karma

We've been at it off and on since 2001 when we first heard about the urban legend...

kablarkin1 karma

What's your favorite type of movie? What's your guilty pleasure type of movie?

DavidZellner1 karma

We like all kinds of films, but it's particularly interesting when the comedy and drama blend together seemlessly, which, even though stylized, is more reflective of life. I don't believe in guilty pleasures, if I love something I love it unabashedly, without a condescending or ironic wink. I love Mike Hodges's FLASH GORDON as I love Kubrick's 2001, but in different ways.

niriall1 karma

What was it like working with Rinko Kikuchi? I hear shes a lot of fun from everything the Pacific Rim cast has to say!

DavidZellner1 karma

It was an absolute joy working with Rinko. She's an amazing talent, so dedicated and focused, and a lot of fun to be around as well. We had so much fun making this film with her.

j666ke1 karma

Very excited to see Kumiko! What made Kikuchi stand out for the title role? Did you have her in mind in the early stages?

DavidZellner2 karma

We wrote it with no one in particular in mind, but when we saw her in Babel we knew she'd be perfect for the role. We love her physicality, we love how she acts with her entire body. She also has the skill and confidence to know when to have a sence of control and restraint in her performance. A simple subtle gesture of hers could telegraph so much more information, and in a far more human and naturalistic way, than someone who might oversell their performance with broader strokes. Another early film of hers I'd recommend is the Japanese film FUNKY FOREST, which she has a supporting role in...

Battingduke1 karma

I've been curious to see KUMIKO since I first heard the premise. So I'm glad I'll finally be able to get a chance to see it soon.

What films have served as the biggest inspirations for you guys becoming filmmakers?

DavidZellner1 karma

Depending on the day we'd have different answers as we love all kinds of cinema but some consistent go-to's are:

(focusing on directors) Herzog, Martin Rosen, Kubrick, Altman, Korine, Gaspar Noe, Buster Keaton, Fassbinder, Tarkovsky, Lynn Ramsey, Coen Bros, Russ Meyer, Roger Corman, Carlos Reygadas, and dozens more I'm drawing a blank on right now...!

lella111 karma

Hi. I sent an email to David yesterday, and was just hunting online to see if I might find an alternate address for you, when I found out this was happening! I didn't realize when I emailed that your film was opening now and that you're totally swamped. Any chance you'll get to respond soon (and hopefully show your film in VT)...?

DavidZellner1 karma

Hi! Thanks for your interest, yes we've been swamped with the release and will get back to you asap!

flabbyironman1 karma

Why are films always better with a chimpanzee and will you ever return to the vast, rich narrative landscape that is Fiddlestixx?

DavidZellner1 karma

It was actualy a gibbon in Fiddlestixx, but like that titular character, all primates like to party and make the world a better place when you allow them do so. If the opportunity presented itself we'd certainly consider returning to the sacred and infinite grounds of the almighty FIDDLESTIXX!

-hondo-1 karma

Gotta say, I have a lot of big movies coming out this year, but Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter still remains in my top 5 most anticipating movies of 2015. Unfortunately, I live in the middle of nowhere, MS, so it may take a while before I get a chance to see it. Any idea when we might see a digital release?

DavidZellner1 karma

Digital/DVD in June. Though I'd check the website because I believe there's at least a couple dates in MS. It's definitely one to see on the big screen if possible!

beardsNcoffeeNcats1 karma

Absolutely love the look of Kumiko, Can't wait to see it. Did you ever have any doubts or worries about making a film about a woman who (if I'm not mistaken) actually committed suicide in real life?

DavidZellner2 karma

Every story is based on some element of truth. The treasure hunt aspect of the story, along with the film obsession as treasure map were eventually debunked as an urban legend. It was the legend/quest aspect of this that drew us in to the story to begin with and so that was the only element we were interested in for purposes of this film. To us there was a higher truth, more interesting and complex in focusing on the legend. We're filmmakers and not psychoanalysts, and found it to be more appropriate to approach the character from a relatable human level rather than try to clumisly try and diagnose her/stigmatize her in the movie. The "true" details posess their own series of abiguities, and being storytellers rather than journalists felt this was the approach to take...

CrawfordShepard1 karma

Hi guys, I went to the screening at the Ace Hotel last year and I liked the movie. LOVED Rinko's performance. I look forward to showing the movie to my wife. How great was it to have Werner Herzog moderate your Q & A?

DavidZellner1 karma

Thanks, that was one of the best days ever, everything about it was so incredibly special- such a lovely crowd, possibly the most beautiful theater I've ever been in and then to have one of our all-time favorite filmmakers attend and enjoy the film was just mindblowing. We own Sundance a tremendous amount of gratitude for putting that all together, they've been more supportive of our work than anyone else for well over a decade.

marcust7191 karma

Why did you get into film making? Was there a particular film that made you both say "I want to do that."?

DavidZellner2 karma

It's all we know, I don't remember ever wanting to do anything different. It's something I was extremely obsessed with and passionate about....

Spoonsy1 karma

Why Minnesota? Was there a relation to the state from either of you?

DavidZellner2 karma

It was part of the original urban legend, as was Tokyo. Interestingly, prior to making the film we'd been to Tokyo but never Minnestoa. We however grew up in Colorado and had a certain affinity for and experience with a harsh winter climate.

CoolAsACutePenumbra1 karma

If you had to choose one shot in the film that sums up the message you're trying to convey in Kumiko, which would it be?

DavidZellner6 karma

We don't have one particular shot, there's too many we love! And in the same way we don't have a particular message we're trying to project, we'd rather leave some breathing room and respect to the audience in coming up with their own point of view, which is far more interesting than anything we'd try to project onto them...

DaLateDentArthurDent1 karma

Hey guys, Fargo is one my favourite films and TV series so I'm really looking forward to seeing the film when I can in the UK. It looks simply beautiful and as a film student is the kind of thing I want to make someday.

I just wondered. What attracted you to the story?

Also I was wondering what you guys think of RoosterTeeth's first feature film Lazer Team? I think the trailer looks great and I'm looking forward to it

DavidZellner3 karma

We were attracted to the urban legend surrounding it, and how it took a life of its own. We were also fascinated by the multiple layers and blurred lines between truth and fiction...