Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shopping and HW (Ashima Day #2)

Day 2 with a Doughnut Plant start.

I met Keith Woo there to grab some food before spending our entire morning at the flagship UniQlo store. A dream come true, Keith and I found some great deals. After carefully choosing some things for my friend Dawn whose heading for Argentina, I was told that black friday would knock everything I had chosen in half. I quickly returned the items, but just as we were walking out the door Keith spotted the UniQlo Undercover collection, and we were back in full shopping mode. In the end I found a down jacket I had to have, and resorted to taking it off a mannequin so I could get the last my size. Best part? It was 50% off.

After some hand made noodle soup and korean pancakes, we headed to Brooklyn for day 2 with Ashima. Sasha was there climbing as well. I kept my mouth shut the whole time so I could get a better idea of how Ashima interacted with her. It was amazing to see two wonderfully talented climbers do their thing. 

Ashima was having a good day, both in and out of the gym (more info on that coming later). After we got home, Ashima's mom made us ramen, and then it was time to get some homework out of the way. It's amazing to see how focused Ashima can be. It's not only in climbing, but in academics, that she gets things done. I realized it was only when I was getting her off topic that she got distracted. Working till nearly midnight on her homework, it was time to say goodbye and let Ashima get her outfit for the next morning sorted out.

Overall a wonderful day of food, friends, and film pre-production.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bad, better, best! (Ashima Day #1)

Everything felt wrong.

Driving to the airport, I felt like my life was falling to pieces. I was losing control. 

The one thing I had confidence in was my ability to move swiftly through security, but right when I was told to step aside, I knew this was going to be one heck of a trip. Oh course I would leave my favorite knife in my down jacket pocket. Amateur mistake.

With three hours of sleep, I wandered around the streets of NYC with a dead smartphone. Eventually I found the Doughnut Plant, and charged up while enjoying a vanilla bean, cinnamon apple, and creme brulee doughnut. 

As I inched closer to the Shiraishi home I couldn't help but feel anxious. What if we didn't get along? What if my "vision" is totally off. What if...

Luckily, from the moment I met Miko and Poppo, to when Ashima greeted me with bed hair, smiles were the constant theme of the day. Ashima and I went through old films, photos, KidRobot toys, traded stories from Japan and fashion, did homework, and we even danced a little to gangnam style. I was humbled in the climbing gym, but couldn't help laugh at receiving a personal lesson from an 11 year old. 

And yes, I ate at McDonalds for lunch, ending my 8 year hiatus from the fast food chain. 

The cherry on top came from an old college classmate, TK. She and her brother found me a place to stay for a few nights! Struggling artists gets divine intervention. Thank you TK and company! Words cannot explain how thankful I am for what you've done, but for the effort you put into this. 

A terrible day, turned wonderful!

Nothing like amazing friends to remind you how blessed you are.

Friday, November 16, 2012

An Example

Faith _

"I had all these reason not to _______, but this is where faith comes in."

Sometimes a desire to be better, to do good, is the easy part. We know the what's and the how's, but it's actually rolling up our sleeves, and getting to work that sometimes deters us from taking the best of paths.

She decided who she wanted to become, no matter how scared she was.
She acted.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week seemed to be a rough week for a lot of us. I went over to a friend's house last night, thinking I'll talk for an hour. Ended up staying for about eight?

While there, this video surfaced.

The whole time I was like, oh...this is cute, wow what great friends, what great parents, etc.

Then I saw the tunnel.

Jaw dropped.

This is HOLLAND!

What an amazing community. Holland is still one of my favorite places I've lived. And I can't help but want to show off this video and say, see! the people here are amazing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Through Gary's Lens

I figure the less you hear from me, and the more you see from James and Gary, the better.

These two guys are great friends I made during my time in Japan. They decided to go back to Japan this summer to explore parts they had yet to see, all by hitchhiking.

See what they saw, see what they experienced.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Track #3 - Bright Whites

I'm listening to a radio live stream of one of my favorite musicians while at work right now. And this is what come to mind:

It was September, I remember feeling a little bit of nerves mixed with excitement as I stepped into The State Room, a concert venue in SLC. I was about to meet for the first time, someone I felt like I knew yet I had never met. I think a lot of us feel like this at times with our favorite artists, actors, etc. You spend hours watching/listening to the point where you feel invested.

Talking over sushi, K was just as fun as his music. 

After sushi, my friends and I spent the night listening to K blow the minds of the SLC crowd. 

My friends had never heard of him before, but were fans now. We picked up some merchandise, and K was nice enough to signed them. 

Basically, if you haven't listened to his music, you should. 

K, who performs under the name KISHI BASHI, is a fantastic guy, as well as a fantastic musician. 

(skip to 6:20 to hear Bright Whites)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Asian Parents

"That's your fault for majoring in what you did."
Thats what my mother told me, in addition to asking me why I was still living in their house.
"You've saved at least...$10,000 living here!" she claimed.
Her first remark implied that I should have studied something useful, or should already be in graduate school. LSAT? GMAT?
But I've settled for what?
Oh. That's right. Film.

I have never felt completely supported in my choice to study film. I am passionate about a lot of things. Sure, business is one of them. I love pitching ideas, I love selling things to people. When I see  something, hear something, or try something and love it, I can't help but want to share what I know. Down side of all of that is that I am horrible at selling something I don't believe in, and in this day and age there aren't a lot of companies I would really care to work for. And sure, law could possibly be a passion, but I don't know enough about it. And yes, I know with certainty that the arts (film, music, visual arts) are a passion of mine. And film is what I chose to study.

And so that leads me to where I am now. Unemployed and homeless to start off 2013. This weight I feel, this knot in my gut, is strangely familiar to how I felt around this time two years ago. Have I come full perhaps a not so good way?

Sunday, October 7, 2012


It was through this video that I was first introduced to this amazing artist. Ever since, I've been a big fan of her work; such a distinct style, and I hope to someday be able to collaborate or at least own something by her. 

This week I discovered her instagram, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I can't wait to get regular updates on projects she is working on! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


From a stressful and overwhelming weekend last week, to an amazingly rewarding week this week. It's amazing how life's circumstance can change so quickly.

A few weeks ago I found out a film I had made my last year in school was being nominated for a regional emmy. I quickly contained any excitement, thinking that a student doc wasn't likely to win.

With so much going on in life, I felt the need to take the weekend to ponder and reflect over general conference, instead of going to the award ceremony.

So what ended up happening?

The last few days was filled with sushi, spirituality, and friends then topped off by a text that read something like this:

Since I wasn't there to give an acceptance speech, I'm going to use my blog to do so :)

First, Brad.
After seeing some of the Beehive Stories in a film panel years ago, I remember introducing myself to Brad as a film student with interest in docs. The following year Brad approached me and asked me if I would be interested in directing an episode on Millard County. Brad has and continue to mentor me through my documentary film career and I will always be grateful for his encouragement and counsel.

Sharon. Tom.
Just as influential to me as Brad. Sharon was my advisor throughout film school, and Tom, though I didn't get to know him until my last semester in school, has been a great example. These two have helped shaped me both in and outside the classroom to be the type of person and filmmaker I want to be. Both have always showed confidence in me as a person and filmmaker when I needed it the most.

Sisi. Dawn. James.
My friends during this crazy semester when things were quite the roller coaster ride. The list of what these three have done for me would be too great for a single blog post, but in just a few lines...Sisi, for really getting to know me and understanding. Dawn for always listening. James for being the best roommate both in Japan and in college. You three know me better than I probably know myself. For having faith in my ability to succeed in any path I chose, and especially supporting me in in film, I am forever grateful for your support, faith, and friendship.

I can't thank you enough for taking a phone call from a stranger and allowing me to be a part of your family's story. I loved every minute of getting to know all of you!

Thank you Jane for all you do to preserve and educate people about Topaz! and for introducing me to Lorraine. I appreciated your hospitality while we were there to shoot. I hope more people will take the time to visit the site and see the wonderful artifacts that remind us how we can learn from history!

and Skylar & Micah
Without Skylar this piece would not be what it is. He pretty much did all the work while I...watched. Skylar I felt really related to George and the whole story involving the internment in a very impressive way. His maturity and understanding is very apparent in the edit. Micah is a musical genius. He really adds so much personality to each of the Beehive Stories, complimenting each character. I look forward to collaborating more in the future!

I'm sure I'm forgetting to thank so many more people...but you get the picture. So many people are involved in one short doc. Thank you to everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Track #2 - We Don't Want Your Body

Over the years I've talked with close friends who share physical insecurities. Perhaps its not what they lack, but what others emphasize, that adds to this? Do our own and other's looks suffocate us? 

Last night as I talked with a friend, the concerns weighed heavy. We needed to take a break! In the cover of the night we found the closest park and climbed and swung and laughed; back to a simpler time when life's challenges were choices like chocolate or vanilla, or wanting to stay up thirty more minutes. 

This flashback to innocence was quickly interrupted by topics of a more serious nature. Perhaps in later years these issues will seem just as frivolous  as those from our childhood.

The emphasis on physicality in the world around us has a way of jading or diminishing our perception. 

Sometimes noises from all around us confuse us.

And we just need to take a time out and play.

The drive home this song came on:

Though you might not be able to find a connection with what I just wrote and the lyrics to this song...for me, it just worked. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


“GO TO JAIL. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200.” Remember this?

Sometimes life deals you a chance card like this, and this past weekend was one of those weekends.  Luckily, just as quickly as I drew the card, I drew one of these!

Hal and Carly were coming to visit! I first met them in the heart of Tokyo on assignment for The North Face. We were there for a big TNF event and to shoot some new apparel. Spending a couple of weeks in a strange land with new people could be disastrous, but Hal and Carly are the type of people that go out to make the most of everything. Our time in Japan is something I will always look back to fondly. 

When I found out they were going to be in town to run the Bear 100 (a hundred mile ultra-trail marathon), I left work as soon as I could to meet up with them in the mountains. 

I could go on about the race, but I guess the thing I wanted to jot down was the importance of friends. Though Hal and Carly were already doing something super inspirational (running a crazy amount of distance for a crazy amount of time), its not just what they can accomplish physically that is inspiring. They live life to the fullest, and are continually bettering themselves and helping those around them to do the same. It's apparent what great examples they are by how others at the race interacted with this couple. Everyone loves them, and its not just because they are solid athletes. They are solid people. 

My weekend which started off pretty glum, ended pretty solid. 

Thanks to Hal and Carly!

Also, here's a bio video that Camp 4 made a while back...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Insta #1 - TIMKEMPLE

In an ever growing, ever connected digital age, we seem incapable of letting go of our phones. Crackberries have evolved to iPhones...studies show that we are losing social skills, that social media might increase violence and apathy, but then I hear on NPR yesterday that social media is actually increasing empathy, while also increasing narcissism.

Makes sense. 

Anyways the whole point of this post was just for me to be able to write about my love/hate relationship with Instagram. I love seeing photographs from all over the world; perspectives from strangers or friends I normally wouldn't be privy to. The only real complaint I have are "myspace" photos. Basically half naked, or sometimes just plain naked photos people post to garner more followers. 

Not a fan.

But sometimes I see updates that awe...that inspires. 

Example? @TIMKEMPLE. 

You should check out his work! Nothing beats a notification on your phone that you think will be some boring update/message. But then...BAM...its a beautiful photo from Chamonix!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Track #1 - House of the Rising Sun

My closest friends know how much music means to me. I've always associated "my music" with the influences of my life.

Olympia, Washington.
I was 9 years old.
My uncle who was just a few years older than me exposed me to American music. Until then, I never really listened to music, perhaps a little classical when my parents had it on.

The move to America was the first of many to come, and with each move came a greater appreciation for music. Each track would engrave a love for the people and places that I would rely on to become the person I am today.

We will see how long this lasts, but today I've decided its about time to write down some of these connections between music, people, and places.

It would make sense to choose a Boyz to Men song especially since it was the first album I bought and it was one of my earliest exposure to American music, but I've decided to go with something a little different.


We played this song in marching band...yeah yeah I know...MARCHING BAND? But it was a great arraignment. I can still hear Erik's trumpet belting the melody. The ability to make music was such an instrumental part of allowing me to fit in, and make friends every time I moved. It was music that introduced me to Jae, Erik, Chris, Shannon, Erica, Trisha, Erin, the list goes on and on. And Mr. C, who has since passed away, is still to this day one of the mentors who have influenced me the most. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


"They should drop him off in the middle of the Middle East, and let them handle it!" "They should really make him pay!" are the comments I've heard from friends regarding the man behind the YouTube video INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS. Though hatred and intolerance is an everyday occurrence, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed in how people around the world have reacted this week to the ugliness that surrounds them. 

Though some might make hurtful, negative, offensive, or outright false claims, our reactions carry just as much weight and consequence. I tried telling a friend my experience viewing Sam Bacile's film. It's downright awful. But I've seen worse in anti-Semitic and anti-Mormon materials. I’ve heard worse Anti-“JAP” comments growing up as well. Do these negative and ugly comments warrant violence or rioting? And should any governing body or extensions thereof apologize or take any stance on this latest of offensive video posted on YouTube? I personally think NO to both of those questions. Sure, I don’t always agree with people that think every Japanese person is clueless about the war crimes Japan committed against the Chinese…I could try to explain what I have learned, and what I know, but in the end all I can do is try to reason, and if that doesn’t work, just smile and move on.

I came across this article today in the WSJ article. It pointed out that, "After the debut of "The Book of Mormon" musical, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded with this statement: 'The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.'"

Whether in Japan, China, Libya, or America there will be hatred, intolerance, etc. All I can do is hope people will take sec before posting things online, but I also hope people will also reflect before countering. And yes, this includes myself…since sometimes I too shoot before I aim.”      

Monday, September 17, 2012

Riotous Living

On Sunday night I was invited to a potluck and found myself in a house full of Chinese people, followed by an appearance at surprise birthday party for another Chinese friend. While wonderful food, desserts, and drinks were shared over the latest gossip, a few of us couldn't help but reflect on the stark contrast in the current situation half way around the world.