What are you holding on to from the past?

We’ve all got baggage. Everyone has at least a carry on or personal item.

Some people are better at handling their baggage than others. It can be big and awkward or small and discreet.

No one wants to carry your baggage. They may offer to help you but ultimately you own it and have to deal with it.

I’m in my late 30’s and I absolutely have baggage. The difference now, as opposed to ten years ago, is that my baggage is pretty light and compact. I have learned that carrying everything with me was just not efficient or good for my health. It really slowed me down and sometimes got in the way of some relationships I really valued and held me back from destinations I wanted to visit.

Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to meet people who’ve shown me how to re-evaluate my journey.

Now, I pack light. I only take the essentials and even then, I try to leave enough space for better experiences and people to enrich my journey.

Now, my baggage doesn’t weigh me down as much. I still have post cards and stickers that remind me of where I’ve been. No point in forgetting the lessons I’ve learned.

Now I try to enjoy my journey as more and more destinations come and go.

Memories are your souvenirs in this journey of life. Why not focus on collecting the good ones and leaving the bad ones behind where you found them?

It’s not like any of us knows when this trip is over.

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What do you want more than anything?


About four years ago, in the mid summer of 2012, I set out to make a short film about Hikikomori. I set up this blog in hopes of connecting to other filmmakers and people who like the same things I like.

I also set out to tell a story about something I had never heard of, growing up in America, but very quickly came to empathize with. Despite its Japanese origins, I feel like I understand why some people become Hikikomori.

It just spoke to me and I had to tell this story.

Is happiness (with your life and dreams) supposed to be about the destination or the journey?

At this point in my life, it’s both and it’s a fleeting happiness. I think this is the blessing and the curse of making movies or telling stories. Once it’s done. You’re back at zero but you welcome it because the process won’t be the same experience the next time around. The people you will meet along the way will inspire you as well as challenge you. The art form completely has you at it’s mercy but there’s no other way you’d rather spend your time.

This film took me longer than I thought, cost more than I thought, and I still manage to meet people who are willing to help me. It’s very humbling and truly amazing.


What you do I want more than anything?

I guess I want to keep doing this.

I’m already writing and researching the next film.

What you do you want more than anything?


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Hikikomori Italia! (Review)

We have a our first international review!

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 10.47.23 AM

translated from Italian by Marco Crepaldi

The main character, Isamu, moves from Japan to the United States with his divorced father and paternal grandmother. Isamu is an intelligent guy, but he’s left completely alone to face the process of cultural integration. His new classmates don’t show any patience with him and even his teacher, who should support him, is totally unsympathetic. So Isamu decides to drop out of school and withdraws himself to his bedroom, clashing with the concerns and the anger of his father.

I found “American Hikikomori” technically accurate, charming in shots and in music. The short film covers some of the main issues related to Hikikomori, such as the absence of the father, the difficulty in relating with classmates and teachers, and the hypersensitivity that is often found in guys who decide to isolate themselves.

The finale forces the viewer to reflect on the paradoxical condition of Hikikomori, the more they try to get away from the others and the more they become dependent on them. This reflection can be extended to the entire human existence, because basically we are all alone and, at the same time, inextricably linked.

Link to the original Italian review:

A big “ありがとうございました!” to  Marco Crepaldi for his wonderful review via his blog Hikikomori Italia AND for volunteering his time to translate our film’s subtitles into the Italian language.

I am absolutely humbled, flattered, and grateful. Our first batch of sales via Vimeo have actually been in Italy! To me that speaks volumes about how the Hikikomori phenomenon is no longer isolated to Japan.

If you would like to contribute in the effort of translating our film into another language OR simply learn more about our film or the filmmakers, you can contact us at:

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American Hikikomori is now available on Vimeo on Demand!

American Hikikomori from Landis Stokes on Vimeo.

It’s been a long but rewarding journey from script to screen. We are proud to present our short film as the labor of love we truly intended it to be.

Please support us by spreading the word, following us on social media, or just leaving a comment. We are grateful for the opportunity share our story with you.

*Buy our film on Memorial Day (with promo code “MemDay2016”) and get $2 off! Code use is limited to 500 downloads (first come, first served)

Official selection of:

DC Asian Pacific Film Festival
Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival
Asians on Film Festival
World Film Awards
Indie Night Film Festival
Best Shorts Competition
Japan Film Festival Los Angeles
Film Fest 52
New Haven International Film Festival
Culver City Film Festival


Best Supporting Actress – 2015 Asians on Film Jury Selection
Honorable Mention Best Supporting Actor – 2015 Asians on Film Jury Selection
Golden World Award for International Film – 2015 World Film Awards
Award of Merit – 2015 Best Shorts Competition
JFFLA 2015 Submission Award – 2015 Japan Film Festival Los Angeles (presented by UTB Hollywood)
Best Supporting Actress – 2016 Asians on Film Festival

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Woohoo, 100 Followers!

Just received notice that our sporadic, but dedicated, blog has reached 100 followers!

Thank you for following our journey, sharing our interests, and engaging our commentary for the last several years. It means a lot and is I am very grateful to have you.

We’ve slowed down  but are still going, so stay tuned…


The Importance of Public Relations or: That time TEDxUCLA blew me off


I’m a camera guy and I noticed that there’s an upcoming TEDxUCLA event. Well, like most TED events, I assume they would hire a camera crew to shoot that event. Out of curiosity, I simply asked, “Do you hire your camera crew or through a third party?” Instead I got, “we currently have a camera crew for 2016. But thanks for asking.” How does this answer my question? Why is this answer so hostile and unhelpful?


I love TED Talks. They’re inspiring, informative, and very entertaining. I see the brand and assume that everyone who stands behind that brand strives to promote an environment of curiosity, unpretentious wisdom, and camaraderie. Instead, I was given a curt, pretentious, and snobby response by TEDxUCLA.

Am I wrong for asking a question?

I single out TEDxUCLA because right before I contacted them, I reached out to TED directly. A site support rep sent a response that was friendly, professional, and informative.



Maybe that’s why TED defines the TEDx sites as “independently organized TED-like events around the world.” “TED-like,” but rude. That’s too bad.

Have I lost any sleep over this? (Lol) Of course not. It’s typical to my industry and I’ve gotten far worse responses to inquiries. I also know people who do this won’t get too far in anything.

What compelled me to speak up is that I really like the TED brand and think it’s a shame that their association with this experience has put a bad taste in my mouth.

On the bright side, it is a great lesson in public relations. Whether in person or on social media, people still care about how they are treated.

Maybe there’s a TED talk about it!

Probably not at UCLA though…


Have you had something similar happen to you? How did you react? Should brands be held responsible for rude behavior on social media affiliates? What is the appropriate reaction to a situation like this?

Please reply in our comments section.

WINNER: Best Supporting Actress

Akiko Shima won Best Supporting Actress for her role in our film American Hikikomori at the 4th Annual Asians on Film Festival !

2016AOFF Awards

2016AOFF Awards01
Actor Naoyuki Ikeda, Actress Akiko Shima, Producer Kana Watanabe, Director Landis Stokes

From the Asians on Film Festival website:

Asians on Film started as something small in 2010 as a way to promote Asian American minorities in Hollywood and break down stereotypes and create more representation in film and TV.

As the audience grew, so did AOF. Before long, we expanded into providing free services in support of talent and events that matched our mission:

Asians on Film is devoted to arts & entertainment with a primary focus in providing recognition to the talent of Asian/Pacific Islanders who are minorities in the film industry either as talents, filmmakers and/or those who work in other aspects of filmmaking.

In 2012, AOF started a short film festival in Los Angeles designed differently from all other festivals and with judges actually kept from the public to ensure as much fairness as possible in the process. Programming was done based on weighted average of the judges. All of this was due to the under-representation of Asian Americans at film festivals, and as a short film festival, specifically to focus attention on new and emerging talent.

The festival now in it’s fourth year has grown dramatically with over 300 submissions last year and 17 festival awards. The festival has also expanded to include special screenings of “Best of Fest” throughout the year in other cities with a goal of having screenings in Asia and Europe in 2016.

Post Screening Q&A. Watch it here
Akiko Shima accepting her Best Supporting Actress Award

ありがとうございました to AOFF for your hospitality and for the opportunity to showcase our film in your wonderful festival. We always felt welcomed and absolutely loved the congenial atmosphere.

Actor Naoyuki Ikeda, Producer Kana Watanabe, Director Landis Stokes, Composer Karin Okada

We are very proud and honored by Akiko Shima’s Best Supporting Actress win as well as Naoyuki Ikeda’s Best Supporting Actor nomination.

Actress Akiko Shima, Actor Yuto Serata, Producer Kana Watanabe, Director Landis Stokes, Actor Naoyuki Ikeda

Photos courtesy of Mike Barnum, Naoyuki Ikeda and Steve Lam Photo
Instagram: SteveLamPhoto


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