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 

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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A MashUpStudios Production.