Mario & Crayon

A lot happened in 2016. I got married in May and we elected a new president in November. I'm loving one and exhausted by the other. Last year I had the chance to work on quite a diverse set of projects, but a few stand out that I wanted to share. 

Growing up my mom refused to buy me any sort of gaming system. Nintendo was a dream. Sega was out. And Game Gear wasn't going to happen. Of course I managed to play Contra and Duck Hunt at friends' homes, but as a result I never developed that tactile skill. To this day I'm terrible at video games, can barely work a Game Boy, and suck at games on my iPhone. Nevertheless, I had enough contact with Nintendo to be familiar with the Super Mario series and in December had the chance to meet the voice behind Mario, Luigi, Wario, etc. His name is Charles Martinet, and he's one whacky guy. His career in acting and voice acting spans decades, but what he's best known for is the development of Mario's personality. In any normal conversation it quickly becomes apparent that there's a very narrow separation between Charles Martinet and Mario. It's hilarious, refreshing and endearing all at the same time. Charles truly is Mario. Check out the video on Great Big Story.

Finally, Three years ago I met Velvet Crayon (aka Erik Paluszak) at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow setting up a guitar, ukulele and an array of pedals for his opening set. A talented musician, self-proclaimed natural born freak, and sideshow performer, Crayon was at a major crossroads in his career. Crayon moved to New York City with his manager, Maryn Marston, determined to grow his career and find a foothold in the industry. Since these first few months in NYC, three years ago, Crayon's career and life has blossomed. He has traveled internationally on to tour with the Squidling Brothers, released a new music album called Ampersand Imperfecta, and found a partner in life. His life has changed dramatically since Drew Jordan and I produced Make or Break for Verse, but  it was quite an honor to be witness to such a pivotal moment in his life. Check out Velvet Crayon's story and don't miss the wonderful interactive content along the timeline. My favorite are the performers' portraits.


The Positivity Police and Urban Prepping

This week marked the launch of 2 new stories from Great Big Story and Verse. Two very different publications, taking distinct approaches to video content and visual storytelling on the web. 

This is the second story that I have produced for Great Big Story, a CNN-affiliated brand and video content machine, that has stormed the internet with catchy, quirky, and fascinating short stories from around the world. In partnership with Canada Keep Exploring, we featured the Positive Ticketing program in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Started in 2001 by Ward Clapham in Richmond, BC, the program teaches Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers to issue positive tickets to youth seen engaging in good behavior. The tickets, redeemable with community business partners such as roller skating rinks and summer pool time, are awarded to youth seen, for example, crossing the street, helping their sibling on the playground or wearing helmets. Conceptualized by Clapham to foster relationships between the RCMP and the community, and provide role models for at-risk-youth, the positive tickets program has expanded across the globe, now deployed by police departments in over 50 countries worldwide. This is truly an uplifting story. 

Produced by Spēk Pictures for Verse, Bugging Out 101 is the fourth episode in the Second Look series. Verse is quickly becoming a storytelling and technology platform that is redefining traditional linear storytelling. Verse’s innovative approach to storytelling places more power in the hand of the viewer to choose their own path through a rich-content storytelling experience. Bugging Out 101 is the story of Anna Bounds's determination to prepare herself for uncertain events in New York City. After personally witnessing terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and power grid failures, Anna is driven to learn techniques used by urban preppers to provide certainty in an uncertain world. 


World Premiere: Im/Perfection


As any creative can attest to, there is a fine balance between growing your business, maintaining your personal vision and producing meaningful work. Every creative will eventually find a period where a chasm begins to grow between these values. As the relationship becomes increasingly complex, they find themselves sinking into inner turmoil, struggling and questioning their passion and purpose. This is what I call, "burn-out." I hit that wall earlier this year. Maybe it was the culmination of simultaneously moving across the country, planning a wedding, and working tirelessly. Regardless, I hit that point. 

Reflecting back on the meandering path that lead me to filmmaking I remember an obsession to produce overly-ambitious personal projects at any cost. I created interactive digital projects coupled with exhibitions and community engagement. I usually bit off way more than I could chew, relying on friends and family to bail me out at the last minute. However, no matter how ambitious of a vision, it was still my vision and on my terms. 

Come 2016, I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis. I was struggling to catch my breath and inhale the life-saving passion that used to define my work. It had been over four years since I had dedicated time to work on a personal project–Follow My Steps, my Master's project. Looking close to home, I was inspired by my father's familiar (but incomplete) story and the timing of his retirement late last year. What began as oral history, quickly evolved into an overly-ambitious project that resulted in the short film Im/Perfection

Typically working in the digital world of video and short films, Im/Perfection represents my first plunge into the deep-end of film making. Instead of working on the ground alone, I collaborated with a crew. I directed a post-production team. And I hired a composer and musicians to create and record an original score. The experience was challenging, magical and rewarding all at the same time. The result was a unique film far different from anything I had previously produced whose origin spawned out of personal struggle and burn-out. The result was rejuvenating. 

Next month the film will be premiering at the Hawaii International Film Festival as part of their shorts programming on Sunday, November 6 and Saturday, November 12. My wife, Jenny, and I will be attending the first screening to share this special moment with my family and celebrate the tireless work that so many people have contributed to the making of this film. 

I need to thank my wife and Associate Producer, Jennifer Moncayo for her consultation, endless support and awesome interview skills. Jessey Dearing for cinematography and photography, and for filming all day in paradise in a construction site (I literally wouldn't show him the beach until we finished filming). Duncan Blickenstaff for his incredible talent to create the original score for this film. Drew Jordan for bringing my father's illustrations to life. The musicians, Mark Robertson on violin, Josefina Vergara on violin, Luke Maurer on viola, and Cameron Stone on cello. Satoshi Noguchi for recording the music and his Jedi sound mixing skills. Sarah Brady Voll for designing the sound of the film. Michael Curry for his meticulous eye in the color grade. And my father, Hitoshi Hida, for sharing his story with me and the world. 

I hope to see you next month in Honolulu for the world premiere of Im/Perfection.