Project Proposal

Project Proposal



Swords By the Lake


Production Team: Thousandfold Productions

Nate Nelson

Diana Kahler

Ryan Morgan

Steven Ragsdale


Swords By the Lake is about showing the contrast between Hollywood’s portrayal of samurai culture and the reality of the art.

Intended Audience

The intended audience is ultimately anyone interested in history and culture, although the pacing may not hold the attention of younger children. Projected age range: 10 and up

Objective of the film

The objective of the film is to show people that the samurai culture is interesting and worth learning about even without Hollywood spicing it up.


The soundtrack will alternate from a certain kind of stillness, one that can only be found when one is at peace and out in the world to the noise of training. From inside the dojo, the soundtrack will give people a sense of the real sounds and weight that comes with the swing of a sword, as it hits its target. The music will be incorporating bits of Japanese music throughout history and a wide variety of styles, from traditional to pop and beyond.


The story predominantly takes place at Suigetsukan Dojo in Lake Merrit, a peaceful scene in an up and coming area of Oakland, Ca. While they teach many styles, we will be learning about Toyama Ryu Battodo, an authentic school of Japanese swordsmanship.

Here we meet Michael Esmailzadeh, Sensei and founder of the Suigetsukan Dojo. It is through his tutelage that viewers will learn about the art of Toyama Ryu and see classes in action. During these classes, the whoosh and occasional clacking sound of the wooden training swords will set a peaceful mood. These Bokken, as they are known, are used by beginners until they have become skilled enough to handle a real sword.

We will also be interviewing Fei Chang and Francis DaCosta. These two are regular students at Suigetsukan and of Toyama Ryu. It is through the lens of their experiences that will we see the art from the student perspective, focusing on how Toyama Ryu has changed them as a person and the difficulties in learning one such art.

Some of the styles the viewer will see includes Suburi or sword cutting combinations and Kata or sword forms. Also on the agenda are Kumitachi, meaning paired training, and Tameshigiri or target cutting.

Another segment will show the Thousandfold Production Company taking part in some Toyama Ryu Battodo classes of their own. They will be taught by Sensei Mike Esmailzadeh and helped along by Thousandfold Production’s very own founder, Nate Nelson. Nate has been a student at Suigetsukan under Sensei Esmailzadeh for ten years, and has taught a few classes of his own.

The film will also have a short breakdown of samurai culture in the media, with Sensei Esmailzadeh telling the viewer step by step where the movie or anime went wrong and what parts they got right. Ultimately, this will show the differences between the reality and fantasy, as well as that elusive point where the lines begin to blur.

The final segment will be Suigetsukan closing its doors for the night, students going home to rest and relax. For tomorrow is another day and the path of learning never truly ends. The moon rises over the waters of Lake Merrit as one lone student practices katas in the dappled moonlight, embodying the very definition of Suigetsu, “The Moon Reflected in the Water.”

Work Cited
“Battodo.” Suigetsukan. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.


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