Games in REVIEW: NEOTOKYO

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In the first edition of Games in REVIEW, we look at a the Source mod, NEOTOKYO.

Watch the trailer, here.
Official NEOTOKYO website, here.

If Blade Runner was set in Tokyo in the far future, it would probably look like this. The mod is created by Studio RADI-8, a modification team. An inspired mix of Ghost in the Shell and Akira fused with Counter Strike, the game is a modification of the Half Life engine that was originally released in 2009. It was Greenlit on Steam in 2012 and released only recently on July 4th, 2014. The game is free to play and follows a group of two warrior political factions in a struggle for control of an economically distraught Japan. The story is paper thin but what the game really boils down to is the multiplayer aspect. 

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(Although the servers are low, they’ll probably pick up as soon as more updates are added.)

According to Wikipedia, the story is as follows: NEOTOKYO° is set in Tokyo, approximately 30 years in the future. After the failure of a proposal to alter the Japanese constitution to allow foreign deployment of Japanese soldiers, a military coup d’état is attempted by extreme nationalist factions in the JSDF. In response, the Prime Minister of Japan pools former military intelligence operatives and police officers into a sub-group of the Interior Ministry’s National Security Force (NSF), called Group Six, to seek out subsequent coup plotters and uphold the law in both domestic and international soil. Immediately, rumours surface that an unknown faction in the JGSDF’s special forces unit “Jinrai” is preparing for another coup attempt against the government. According to the information, the said members of this group are from Special Operations Group 43, fierce ultranationalists determined to succeed with the coup once more. The ensuing strife between these two factions sets the backdrop for the game.

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(Most characters have something covering their eyes. The future must have really bad eye care or maybe they’re all using Google Glass…?)

There are two factions in the game that you can freely choose from when entering a server. There’s the JINRAI and the NSF. Other than pure cosmetic looks, there’s nothing very different about the two factions. Hell, even the weapons are the same. There are three different types of classes: Recon, Assault and Support. Recon is quick, equipped with a cloaking ability, sidearm, knife and detpack. There are very limited weapons that the Recon class can use however, which is only the first six. They also have very limited armor which makes them easier to kill, much like the Scout class in Team Fortress 2. Next up is the Assault class. Hefting more armor, limited sprint and more weapon choices, the Assault class is meant to take out enemies with precision. Armed with a sidearm, grenades and a knife, running isn’t your first priority. Lastly is the Support class. Slow but heavily armored, these guys are hard to kill. I’ve unloaded an entire clip into one as the Recon class. It did nothing. The Support class is armed with a shotgun and has every weapon available to them at the highest rank. You also have thermal vision but lack the ability to sprint or cloak unlike the other two classes. After playing all three classes, I favor the Recon class the most. I like running around, gunning down enemies ahead of the pack. The Recon class has this neat jump ability that allows you to spring forward. You can only do this so many times however. 

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The stats of the weapons aren’t talked about in detail but like any shooter, silenced weapons give you a quieter kill while risking accuracy and damage. Unsilenced weapons give you more damage and increased accuracy at the cost of having your position given away. SMGs, automatic rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns make a total of 12 weapons available. As you play through each match, you are at a low rank designated Private. As you progress through each match killing enemies and doing objectives, you rise in rank eventually culminating in the Sergeant rank. Ranks mean absolutely nothing in this game except for the fact that you can get all the weapons of each class. 

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(We were a pretty good team. Oh yeah, there’s also teamkilling…)

NEOTOKYO is heavily focused on teamwork. Although not heavily implied, this is no Counter Strike or Call of Duty. It feels tactical to play this game, relying on your team to complete objectives. There are currently only two game modes available: Team Deathmatch and Capture the Ghost. Capture the Ghost is a spin on the CTF gamemodes that populate other shooters. Like Counter Strike, there are no respawns after you die in a round. The Ghost is placed in the center of the map. Each team must reach the Ghost before the other does, capture it and bring it back to designated areas for extraction. When you pick up the Ghost, you lose you primary weapon and are only left with your sidearm, knife and grenades. Upon holding the Ghost, she will speak random lines of dialogue to you in Japanese. The good thing about holding the Ghost is that nearby enemies will be revealed to you. The Ghost transmits the heat signatures of nearby baddies as you walk around the map. Putting her away will make the enemy locations disappear. Each class has its pros and cons of taking the Ghost. My strategy is to take the Ghost and just run as the Recon class. There are two ways to win a match in CTG, capture the Ghost or kill the entire opposing team. Most people are interested in the latter. 

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(The “Ghost.” Makes you wonder where the rest of her went…)

Most servers on NEOTOKYO feature this gamemode. Rarely did I play on a server that had TDM. CTG is fun. It’s quick and refreshing compared to other types of CTF. Most people on the servers, however, would rather eliminate the other team rather than doing the objective. I must admit though, completing the objective starts to feel stale after a while. It feels more rewarding to eliminate the entire opposing team than to play the objective. 

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(An old house from the level Isolation.)

Let’s talk about maps for a second. Each map is wonderfully detailed and populated with props that make me become immersed in the cyberpunk world. Maps range from urban cities to countryside derelicts. There are some instances where the textures are lacking but frames never drop during gameplay due to the versatile Source engine. Maps are relatively small. Isolation is actually the biggest map I’ve been on. 

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(Faithfully recreated Suica card machines. Straight from 2044.)

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(Although not a real map, they still go the feel of it down.)

Having been to Japan before, a rush of nostalgia filled my mind as I walked around each map. I especially love the urban city maps. Even some licensed stores and products are used in some props. I’ve died countless times just exploring each map just to use the freecam feature. The level of detail put into each map is astounding. Despite being on a really now dated game engine, the game still looks fantastic. 

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(My decapitated body. Man, future Japan weapons are too powerful.)

Final thoughts: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve died. Friendly fire, decapitation, despite all this, I’ve had a lot of fun playing this mod. I really like the maps, Capture the Ghost and the well balanced classes. It’s one of those games I play on and off, I can’t sit down and play this for four hours straight. It’s great in short increments. Give it a shot, it’s not a game for everyone but it’s definitely worth a download. Download the mod here.

Reviewed on: 
Windows 8.1 64 bit
Intel i7 4690
Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 ti 2GB DDR5
16 GB RAM
AsRock Pro 4 Motherboard

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Review Rating - Densha Otoko TV Series (2005)

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The year is 2005. I was in middle school, the 7th grade to be exact. I was really into anime. I religiously followed Naruto, Bleach, with a love for Samurai Champloo and FLCL. Sometime in 2005 or 2006, my dad introduces me to Japanese tv dramas or “dorama” in Japan. The series is a modern day reverse cinderella story based on “true” events from Japan’s popular 2channel message board about an “otaku” or nerd, who saves a beautiful woman on the train from a drunkard. Below is a description of the actual story from Wikipedia:

"On March 14, 2004, at 9:55 p.m., an anonymous user posted in a 2channel thread for single men to talk about their woes. According to his account, he had been sitting next to a young woman on the train when a drunken man entered the car and began to badger a particular woman.The poster took the risk of telling the man to stop bothering the passengers, who were all women. The two struggled for a short time while the other passengers used this distraction to summon the conductor, who took control of the situation.

Never having done such a thing in his life, the poster was amazed to find the woman thanking him deeply for saving her from harassment.The young woman requested his address, telling him that she wanted to express her appreciation for his act, before they parted ways.The poster, upon returning home, shared his experience with other posters in the thread and was eventually nicknamed “Densha Otoko” (Train_Man).

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(Atsushi Ito plays Yamada Tsuyoshi a.k.a. Train Man)

A few days later, Train_Man received a package from the woman: an expensive set of cups and saucers made byHermès, a French luxury goods company. Flabbergasted, the man turned to the 2channelers for advice; he was soon convinced that the tea set was too expensive to be a mere thank-you gift. Following the advice and suggestions of the other posters, Train_Man eventually contacted the woman.

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(Ito Misaki plays Aoyama Saori a.k.a. Hermes)

The man who wrote admitted things about himself, such as the fact that his number of years without girlfriends equaled his age, that he was an Akihabara nerd and an otaku, and that he had never been on a date. Because of this last fact, he consistently posted updates on his situation, asking for advice on everything from restaurant choices to what clothing to wear. After an enjoyable first date, they began meeting regularly. Following the 2channelers’ collective advice, he got a haircut, updated his wardrobe, and began to emerge from his shell. After several dates, his demeanor had changed for the better and this culminated a few months later in his confessing his love for her. She reciprocated, and when the 2channelers were informed, there was a mass celebration; posts began flowing in congratulating the new couple, and extravagant Shift JIS art pictures were posted.

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(Various internet personalities that populate the A-Chan website)

Train_Man’s posts continued for a while longer, but on May 17, there were posts about the couple being on the verge of having sex, and several forum members made inappropriate comments on the subject. Later that night, Train_Man left the boards for good.” -Wikipedia

I immediately fell in love with the series. The quirky cast of characters, cheesy love story and setting in Akihabara all drew me into their world. The magic of storytelling is an interesting one, especially considering I was totally against the themes of the drama. The netizens of A-Chan are really what make this drama stand out more than anything. It’s a large ensemble cast of characters and honestly, without them, this show would be like every other cheesy love story. Behind the scenes, the built every set and room that each character lives in. Throughout the series, the continue to help and guide Tsuyoshi through rough waters. 

Despite me praising the drama for it’s simplicity, there are some cons however. The dialogue is very very cheesy and some of the lines they say just make you question why the character is even talking in the first place. They take overwriting on a literal level. Yamada is a character you are annoyed at and feel sorry for throughout the entire series. There is a scene in episode 1 where he wants to call Hermes but at the same time, he can’t because he’s too chicken. I feel as though he relies on the netizens of A-Chan too much. 

Fast forward eight years. July 2013 - It was my first time out of the country and I traveled to Tokyo, Japan. I went to Akihabara and yes, I saw Otaku in real life. They did look like Train Man in the series and it’s surprising because it shows how much the producers replicated the lifestyle and culture of otaku.


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(Above: This is an actual picture I took in Akihabara - July 2013)

Overall, I give this series a 9/10 for it’s humor, cheesiness and large cast of characters. It lacks a bit of quality and the dialogue could have been written better. I’ve watched it multiple times and it’s always entertaining. It’s the first Japanese drama that I ever saw, how could I resist a positive rating? 

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"Tomorrow’s Yesterday" - Episode 3 

[EDIT: Episode 3 has been put on an indefinite hiatus. Now that I’m busy with work, I can’t find the time to produce the film. It’ll have to be soon. I can’t my viewers hanging! Yes, all three of you.)]

Episode 3 is currently in pre-production. Sorry it’s talking a while, folks! We’re planning to have an awesome shootout scene with slow motion elements added. Cinematography will be tricky and coordinating actors’ schedules is not easy. I’m also involved in another three projects so unfortunately, this isn’t first on my priority list. However I can provide some details about the story: “Set a few months after Epsiode 1, Agent 2 is now on the run from Tomorrow. With the help of Agent 3, Agent 2 prepares for the greatest assignment of his career.” The entire cast will make an appearance in flashback or in the actual story. 

Cast: 
Agent 2 - Kevin O’Donnell
Agent 3/Lee - Tohta Morimoto
Agent 7 - Jocelyn Gonzalez
Agent 1 - Doug Delgadillo 

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"Tomorrow’s Yesterday" - Episode 2

Watch more (x)

Episode 2 is finally released! I’m really pleased but at the same time, I’m worried about the audio problems. There are some problems with the footstep sound effects and the muzzle flashes and explosion. I’m still learning those kinds of things.

I wanted to focus more on the backstory of Agent 1. I felt as though he’s a likeable character despite being an asshole. And plus, he died at the end of the first episode so I wanted to redeem him somehow. The episode is about Agents 1 and 7 and their mission in San Francisco in 2009. I wrote Agent 7 as Agent 1’s partner, someone who is the logic and reason of the two. Her personality outweighs Agent 1’s personality, a very violent and straightforward guy.

I hope you guys enjoy this episode!

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NEW Web Series - “Tomorrow’s Yesterday - Episode 1”

Watch the short here (x)

I wrote the idea for this script back in 2011 while shooting a music video with some friends. I have always been interested the spy genre and such, writing a film about espionage. The idea behind the film is inspired by James Bond films, and various other films in the spy genre that I can’t name right now.

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The potential series revolves around an unsanctioned spy/hitman agency called, Tomorrow, who’s motto is “Yesterday is history.” Large organizations pay Tomorrow in order to take out certain targets that they find troubling to their ideals. Kevin plays Agent 2, known only by his number and not by his name. He is the apprentice and protege of Agent 1, played by Doug, who is considered the best agent in the agency. JD is one of the targets hired by an unknown company who poses a threat to both Tomorrow and the company. Tomorrow sends out Agents 1 and 2 to take care of the assassin. 

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I don’t think very highly of myself as a screenwriter. I love shooting films and enhancing color however when it comes to my writing ability, I believe I lack in skill. Nonetheless, I try to put my blood, tears and sweat into every project I produce. People always ask me, “Why do you cast non-actors?” My response is always, “I would rather work with people I have good chemistry with as opposed to good actors I don’t know.” It’s a conscious choice because I love working with my friends on numerous projects.

My potential for this entire project is to create a web series consisting of four episodes. Episode 1 will be titled, “The Best Never Rest” with tentatively titled Episode 2 “Former Partners,” Episode 3 “A Helping Hand,” and Episode 4 “All Ends Meet.”

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Film School Blues

As I’m approaching the end of my college career, I’m beginning to feel a little underdeveloped as a film student. I see my various colleagues around me teaming up and making productions, beautiful works of art, and here I am on the sidelines wondering when I’ll get my chance. Some say film school is easy but the professionals always tell me it’s the hardest time of their life. An established indie filmmaker once told me that film school was the hardest part of his life however I think the time after is quite hard as well. Film students need to make connections within their program as well as out in the industry. I feel as though I haven’t put my foot in the door enough. I spend a fair amount of time in the library, mostly to hang out with friends and get some work done. While in the library, I happen notice a lot of my classmates having production meetings and probably chatting it up about film and making awesome connections. I always think that they have their whole lives planned out in front of them and that they have adequate connections to guarantee them a job. I see my friend on instagram posting pictures of projects and how he and his friends have started a production company. I admit, I’m a little jealous of their opportunities. I honestly don’t know where I’m going end up in the future. However, on the flip side of this coin, I remain very positive and very hopeful for the future. There are so many opportunities for me to develop my skills from as well as make connections in the future.  

I love digital media. I love YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Netflix, Hulu, Blip, and Twitch. I think that digital media is the new medium in the current film industry. YouTube personalities like Freddiew, Wong Fu Productions and RocketJump. However, I think my biggest influence has to be RoosterTeeth. I love the content they produce and I wouldn’t mind working from them in the future *nudge nudge wink wink* San Francisco is mostly known for its business companies, startups, and proximity to Silicon Valley. The only film industry this area is known for are independent productions and production companies that specialize in short films and commercials. I really like the scene up here. Maybe I’m biased but I don’t like LA. I’ll visit but nah, I’ll pass on the housing costs. Plus, I don’t want to get stuck with my toes stuck in the door.

So all in all, I just have to stay positive and hope for the best. I have to take action and make sure that I keep the friends I have now.

Review Rating - “The Magic Hour” 2008 

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Now when I first heard of a movie called, The Magic Hour, I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to watch it. I was introduced to the film by my girlfriend and she told me that a Japanese director by the name of Mitani Koki directed the film and similar films.

"When a low-level gangster (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is caught having an affair with his boss’s wife (Eri Fukatsu), he pleads for his life by promising his boss (Toshiyuki Nishida) that he will recruit a famous hitman. When it quickly becomes apparent that he is never going to find the wanted hitman, he hires an actor (Kōichi Satō) to fill the role.For much of the movie, the actor playing the hitman believes that he has been hired to play a part in a seemingly arcane gangster movie, and interacts with the other gangsters as though they are also hired actors. At times, this puts his employer (Satoshi Tsumabuki) in a precarious position.” -Wikipedia

After watching the films, I found out that this film was nominated for several Japanese Academy Awards and was a landmark in Japanese and Asian cinema. I also came to find out that Mitani Koki directed several different comedies spanning from the early 1990s to the present day. His comedy films have reflected highly on Japanese cinema. He, much like directors Darren Arronofsky, like to work with the same actors and feature cameos/cross characters over into different films. I really enjoyed this film and encourage everyone to watch it as well as Mitani’s other films.

Out of 10, I give this a 9 out of 10. It’s really funny, smart and features laugh a minute gags that will leave you talking about the film for days.

Review Rating: “The Wind Rises” 2014 (風立ちぬ)

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Japanese theatrical poster for Hayao Miyazaki’s final masterpiece, The Wind Rises a.k.a. 風立ちぬ

While I was on a trip to Japan in July 2013, The Wind Rises was released on July 18th. I spent a week in Japan and the marketing campaign for the film was enormous. Everyone was talking about how good it was and how much it stood up to Miyazaki’s final masterpiece. For seven months I tried my best to ignore all spoilers and when I finally saw the film in February 2014, I was not disappointed. I loved the film and my eyes were constantly locked on the beautiful animation. The story follows plane engineer Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) through his childhood in the early 20th century to the end of World War II. Throughout his journey he meets a cast of characters (Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, and Stanley Tucci; just to name a few in the English cast). It’s an animated historical drama film that combines fiction and history with fantastic results. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and although it’s not my favorite Miyazaki film, it makes me re-evaluate my top ten list.

Out of 10, I give this film a 10 out of 10. Perfect score. Without doubt this is truly what Studio Ghibli is known for. 

Short Film - The Last Minute - 3/17/2014

Watch the short here. 

The idea for this film came from the idea I had about a near death experience. I was fascinated by the thought of the things going through your mind before you die. Originally going to be an entry into Campus Movie Fest 2014, I chose After Tomorrow over this film due to the availability of the actors and the idea fresh in my mind. I put off this short film until now, mostly due to a busy schedule and finding the right actors. After a few script revisions, I finally settled on the piece you see now. 

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Doug plays a thief who’s luck has run out. He subsequently “gets what he deserves” when he meets Tohta’s character, a thief who is stealing from a thief. Moments before Doug is shot, he thinks about what he did wrong and recites this in his head. He wants to be a good person despite having stolen and killed. 

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This film was shot on the last day in February, a rainy Friday. The shoot lasted around 45 minutes. Short, yes but because I planned everything out, right down to what the characters had to wear. They didn’t have much acting to do other than pointing the gun and clenching fists. The crew consisted of my friend Jocelyn and myself. (She held the umbrella for me. Shoutout to her for that.) I served as DP and Director. The crew and cast were minimal for a minimal shoot. Those are my favorite kinds of shoots. 

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(Above: Tohta, Doug and Jocelyn, cast and crew)

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New Short Film - The Last Minute

Hey guys!

Currently working on a new short film. Production will begin on Friday, February 28th. Stay tuned for more details! 

2013 as a Filmmaker

"You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae." - Paul Walker in Flaunt Magazine, July 2001.

So another year has gone by. Another year, another set of films. I’m pleased to say that I’m very proud of the work I’ve produced, directed, shot and edited this year. 2013 has been a good year to me and unfortunately, I have to see it close. I’m so glad to have met so many talented people with a passion for filmmaking. Here’s to 2014, may it be a good year for the film industry. I present to you the Mash Up Studios 2013 playlist. Please enjoy!

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"Tomorrow" - Tablo ft. Taeyang - Music Video (x)

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Chapter One - Family (x)

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Chapter Two - Friendship (x)

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Snack to the Future (x)

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Still Water - (x)

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Chapter Three - Home (x) - Outtakes (x)

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Making Tea (x)

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After Tomorrow (x)

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Utada Hikaru - Hikari FMV Remake (x) - Password: hikari

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Seven Days in Japan - (x)

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Thursday Nights - (x)

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Going Home - Goodbye, Rina - (x)

New short film: Thursday Nights

Watch the short: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sj1H1-abvo&feature=youtu.be

This short was inspired by a true story. For weeks, I just wanted to meet up with my friend to study in my school’s library but she always bailed out last minute or she would not respond on time. So I decided to make a movie out of it.

It’s been two months since I shot this film and I’m releasing it way past it’s due date. 

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The concept behind the film is, waiting. I’ve always believed that waiting for something good will get you somewhere. In a sense, Kazuya’s character represents me. In the film, he waits and waits for Shiho’s character to return but she doesn’t. Despite not showing up on their agreed time, Kazuya’s character continues to wait for her, knowing she probably won’t come due to her character’s lazy and easily distracted demeanor. 

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Although waiting may be a good thing, you should always take action for what you want, even if what you want seems like the most minuscule of things. Go out there and get it! 

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Until Then - Goodbye, Rina

Watch the video: https://vimeo.com/82472498

A little goodbye video that a couple friends and I put together before Rina goes back to Japan.
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Goodbye, Rina. I hope you had an amazing time here in the United States. I was so happy to have met you on my birthday and I’m happy to be your friend. Thank you for everything and I hope you have a wonderful time back in Akita. Have a safe flight and never forget about your friends here in the U.S.!

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Kinetic Films - December 9 and 11, 2013

This week, I had the fortunate pleasure of working with Hawaii’s own Kinetic Films, the creative minds behind the indie film Hang Loosea comedy about a vacation gone wrong. The film stars KevJumba and Dante Basco so check it out when you can! 
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So how exactly did I get a small gig like this? Well, one day in November, I was surfing Reddit for AMAs of interesting people. It turned out that Dante Basco was doing an AMA while I was searching. In his description, he mentioned that he was part of a production company called Kinetic Films. “Now where have I heard that name before…?” I clicked on the link and a picture of Hang Loose was on their website. Having seen the film a while ago, I quickly remembered who Kinetic Films was. I decided to email them about an internship, despite their distance. In a few minutes, I was emailing someone named James. We emailed each other back and forth about the internships they offered. Due to the distance, of course I wasn’t able to participate however he mentioned that Kinetic was going to SF in December to shoot a commercial for Levi’s Jeans/Dockers. I kindly asked if I could join them and James agreed. I looked them up after our emails and it turned out, he was the CEO and creator of Kinetic. I was speaking directly to the CEO! I couldn’t have been more excited. 

Fast forward to the week of December 8th. James informed me back in November that the shoot was going to be from December 9th to December 13th. I emailed him back on the 8th to re-confirm our meet and if I was still able to help them. He allowed me to and last minute I decided to meet them at the SF Exploratorium at Pier 15. Finally meeting James, he was an extremely nice man who let me into the building after closing hours. He showed me around and I met Jay and Mat, two guys on the team for the commercial shoot that week. There was a huge party hosted by Levi’s being held at the Exploratorium complete with a full bar and DJ. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do so I just kept asking James what he needed but I didn’t want to sound too annoying. I helped pack their gear for the most part and ate the fancy food that Levi’s provided. It was a good night but I was exhausted after that. 

December 11, 2013. I woke up at 5AM to meet James and the crew at the Levi’s Headquarters at Levi’s Plaza, across from the Exploratorium. After a huge cup of coffee, I was ready to start the day. It mostly consisted of a presentation about Dockers pants/semi-fashion show. The rest of the day consisted of B-roll and finally wrapped after a quick lunch. 

I had an amazing experience with them, learning new things, re-learning old things; but most of all, I was inspired to become a better filmmaker. 

Lesson learned: If you look hard enough, you just might find what you’re looking for. 

Mat, Jay, Me and James

New music video: Seven Days in Japan

Watch the music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvn1asg5PjY

A personal trip I took to Japan in July of 2013.

Everything was shot by me in Tokyo, Japan.

Song: “All I Want is You” by m-flo (m-flo.com)

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This short was inspired by my previous short film Chapter Three. I wanted to make another film about Japan and I had all this left over footage. I didn’t know what to do with it so I decided to make a music video instead. I chose “All I Want is You” by m-flo because the song is about missing someone you love. In my case, my trip to Japan was my first experience out of the United States. Still to this day, I miss my trip to Japan and I long to go back. I love the country and in a sense, the song represents my feelings very well.


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The places that I visited include: Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, Akihabara, Asakusa, Harajuku, Roppongi, Odaiba, Narita, and Yoyogi.

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Post Credits scene explanation: Kaori dropped one of her sushi rolls into my tea on accident

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