American Hikikomori: The End & The Beginning


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American Hikikomori: The end is nigh…


You can help at our official INDIEGOGO page

We’re one week out from closing our first crowd funding campaign so there’s still time for you to help us spread the word or contribute to our campaign.

Remember, if you can’t donate, you can still help us by telling five of your friends to tell five of their friends about us and follow us on our social media sites below.

Thanks your help and have a great holiday!

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American Hikikomori: The Crew

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We could not do this without your support.

So every television show, movie, and stage show is composed of some kind of crew. For our film, my crew consisted of some of my closest friends.

Check out our film’s behind the scenes albums. We had a great time working on this film and can’t wait to show you.

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Campaign Week 5: Half Full or Empty?

We’re now at the midway point and an anonymous donor has pushed us 33% closer to our campaign goal. We could not do this without your support!

Is it half full or half empty? Or is it vodka?

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Location, location, location!

Check out our INDIEGOGO campaign! We could not do this without your support.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.45.45 PMLocation location location…

When you shoot a film, a television show, or even a photograph, your location really does have an impact on your logistics, crew, and content. You wouldn’t make Lawrence of Arabia in Iceland or The Jungle Book in New York. You could, but it would be weird.

Lately, a lot less production actually takes place in Hollywood than it used to. Other cities, states, and even countries are giving production companies major incentives to have them come in and make a film or television show in their area.

Part of the reason Hollywood became a major hub for film and television production was because of the constant sunny weather AND because almost every type of climate imaginable is just a few hours drive away. From desert to forest to beach to mountains, California has it all. However, California still seems to lack competitive incentives for producers to stay…

But I don’t want to talk about that.

There’s no film without a place to shoot it!

Outside of production, what’s amazing about traveling is how it impacts us as human beings. Well, I don’t want to speak for you but it has had a great impact on me.

I spent the first eight years of my life living the military family lifestyle. I was born over seas and we moved several times before my father decided to retire.

Because we moved around, I learned that the world is indeed a very large place and, more importantly, that I want to see and experience as much of it as I can. Sure, any one can open a book or turn on a television to get an idea of what any place is like but it will never compare to actually being there, good or bad.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.26.24 PMAfter graduating from high school, the first city I lived in on my own (for college) was Boston, Massachusetts. Moving from Baltimore, Maryland to Boston was… educational. I learned a lot about myself and the values I truly hold dear for how I want to live my life. That’s not because Boston is a great mecca that people should make a spiritual pilgrimage to, that’s ridiculous. Have you been to Boston? It was simply the first place I lived without the sheltering protection of my parents. It was the first time I could look at myself as an adult. Most of us spend the first eighteen years of our life in “training.” Once you’re out in the world, that training is put to the test morally, financially, and socially on a constant basis. For me, a lot of values stuck while others morphed and some were completely dropped.


I lived in Boston for two years before transferring south to go to film school. I would never choose to live in Boston again (my wallet couldn’t take it) but I know living there continued to shape who I am today. I’d love to return for a visit someday.

There’s no place like Boston and I can always point out a New Englander or “Mass-hole” anywhere. Some of my good friends are from this region and this city. Some might find the Boston or New England mentality off putting. Since moving to Los Angeles, I sometimes find it refreshing.

Traveling (even city to city) really does broaden the mind and strengthen the soul. Do it when you can, as often as you can. You’ll learn so much about the world and yourself.

Our film, American Hikikomori, speaks more to the pitfalls of traveling. This story is about a young man who can’t seem to cope with his new surroundings so; instead, he removes himself from it completely. He hides from everything. Researchers have concluded that Hikikomori exist partly because parents refuse to intervene in a direct or meaningful way.

To me, that sounds like bad training.

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Nova Returns!

First and foremost we’d like to thank Vanessa Smith, Tony Shaff, Kyoka Shiraiwa, and Jessica Everleth for contributing to our INDIEGOGO campaign! We could not do this without your support.

Okay Nova didn’t really go anywhere but if you’ve been following us since the beginning, you might remember she was our first casting selection. Nova is also a true testament to why animal rescue shelters are important.

“Dog” in Japanese is いぬ or 犬 both pronounced, “e-new.”

Just so you don’t embarrass yourself, the Japanese do not eat dog. You’re thinking of a different Asian country.

A pic of Ms. Nova.

On a side note (historically) the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese hate each other so to confuse one with the other is considered a great insult to a true patriot. Why is there animosity between each culture? Simple, centuries of war. The rise of modern globalization and the end of the Cold War has calmed the storm for the most part but tension still remains.

Nova Pic
Ms. Nova
Our star, Nova, and Nova's mom
Our star, Nova, and Nova’s mom

In Japanese mythology, the God of Thunder, Raijin has a dog of thunder, Raiju.

“Raijū (雷獣,”thunder animal” or “thunder beast”) is a legendary creature from Japanese mythology. Its body is composed of lightning and may be in the shape of a cat, fox, weasel, or wolf. The form of a white and blue wolf (or even a wolf wrapped in lightning) is also common. It may also fly about as a ball of lightning (in fact, the creature may be an attempt to explain the phenomenon of lightning). Its cry sounds like thunder.

Raiju is the companion of Raijin, the Shinto god of lightning. While the beast is generally calm and harmless, during thunderstorms, it becomes agitated and leaps about in trees, fields, and even buildings (trees that have been struck by lightning are said to have been scratched by Raiju’s claws).

Another of Raiju’s peculiar behaviors is sleeping in human navels. This prompts Raiden to shoot lightning arrows at Raiju to wake the creature up, and thus harms the person in whose belly the demon is resting. Superstitious people therefore often sleep on their stomachs during bad weather, but other legends say that Raiju will only hide in the navels of people who sleep outdoors.” – Wikipedia

I guess man’s kinship with canines spans numerous cultures over thousands of years and dozens of deities.

Who knew?

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Campaign Week 2: Our story…

First and foremost we’d like to thank Vanessa Smith, Tony Shaff, and Kyoka Shiraiwa for contributing to our INDIEGOGO campaign! Welcome to our team, we could not do this without your support.

In the end, this film is a work of fiction. However, this work of fiction is very much based on real people and real experiences they’ve had.

My Director’s Notebook

I believe that in telling this story, I am telling our story.

Left to Right: Naoyuki Ikeda, Yuto Serata, Akiko Shima
Yuto Serata, our lead.
Naoyuki Ikeda ready to make his entrance…

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Gifts: Photo-print T-shirts

First and foremost we’d like to thank Vanessa Smith and Tony Shaff for contributing to our INDIEGOGO campaign!

While we don’t believe this short film will break blockbuster records, we do believe there are people who will connect with our story and continue to share it.

By supporting this film, you are adding another voice to the on going conversation about diversity, tolerance, and acceptance amongst our peers in our ever shrinking global community. We are not changing the world but are whole heartedly trying to tell stories people feel are not being told.

ありがとうございました, Vanessa & Tony!

Your gift deserves one in return.

Because we know money gets tight and inflation is always on the rise, we want to make sure you know how much we value your support!

Along with the tax write-offs for your donation, you’ll get a gift from us as a token of our appreciation and as a momento for helping us make this film.

Check out this video update to see how we’re personally hand making one of your potential gifts!

The actual photo ink we’ll use is made by a company named Lumi Co.

Our Prototype from the video!
Our Prototype from the video!

From Jamie:

Step 1
Step 1

“I came across Lumi Co by accident while perusing the internet. I found them through a Mend’s website. They’re based in Africa and they were using Lumi’s Inkodye to put images on their handmade canvas tote bags. As resources in Africa can be difficult to find, the Inkodye made it possible for them to add these images with little impact on the environment.

What I like about inkodye is the process. It’s light sensitive ink that soaks into natural textile fibers. It doesn’t sit on top of fabric as does screen-printing. Therefore the image is preserved for as long as the textile is in tact. The image, once set into the fabric, won’t even fade or crack over time as screen-printing does. The inkodye also has low toxicity and environmental impact. In fact, the only chemical you have to be concerned about is ammonia, and that’s in most household cleaners. As long as it’s being applied in a well-ventilated area, and you’re wearing gloves as a precaution, it’s super safe.

Step 2
Step 2

Here’s how our campaign shirts are made. We create a negative image of the logo on a 11×17 transparency film. We take our desired fabric, in this case a t-shirt and put either foam core or a wooden board between the front and back. We then apply the Inkodye to the fabric (which must have mostly if not 100% natural fibers) in a room; which is well-ventilated, but has little to no sunlight. The transparency is placed over the treated fabric and pinned or taped to the board that’s under the image. Once that’s done, it’s time to be placed in the sun for 8- 15 minutes depending on the sunlight. If it’s cloudy, the exposure time will be longer. Direct sunlight is best and fastest.

After the shirt has been exposed, it is brought back indoors in no sunlight for the negative to be removed. The shirt is the thoroughly washed so any and all unexposed dye is washed out. Then the shirt is dried, packed and put in the mail for you! The whole process takes about 20 minutes per shirt.

Step 3
Step 3

Fun facts about Inkodye uses:

It can be used

  • With a negative transparency of a photo image
  • Shadow art (by placing objects on Inkodye treated fabric and exposing it to sunlight)
  • As a tie dye. Bind your fabric up, add inkodye and put it in the sun!

We chose to use Inkodye because it allows us to apply the images ourselves. Each image will have it’s unique properties. Therefore, it has that handmade quality that can’t be found from mass produced screen-printing. It gives our shirts a personal touch.”


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Campaign Week 1: The Campaign Begins!


Some film students believe in order to be successful at most of the popular films schools you need money, talent, and an obsessive hunger to be a storyteller. Sounds about right, right? Or is that a little too simplified; a little too idealistic, maybe?

I found out, very quickly, what you really need is support from your family and friends, an open mind, patience, to check your ego, to develop thick skin, some luck, and (yes, absolutely) a lot of money or access to lots of money.

In film school, you are taught film history, film theory, and how to do most jobs that exist on a real film set. No one teaches you about life or the politics of the world and it’s micro-chasms.

You have to figure that part out on your own.

My personal “clapper/slate” that has been used in multiple web, tv, and short film productions.

Professionally, I work as a freelance camera operator and cinematographer. I have always had a passion for visual art and have had formal training in the fine arts. In concert with my love of photography is my passion for story telling. I love the cinema.

I want to tell stories that inspire me, stories that make me think, and stories that are just fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s scripted, reality, or a documentary. I want to tell these stories and share them with anyone who will see them.

Back in film school, a producing instructor once told me, “Don’t wait for someone to let you direct. You have to take control of your own career. Nobody is ever going to let you do anything. You’ve got to hustle for everything you want, yourself.”

I took those words to heart.

Promotional still from the short film “American Hikikomori”

I realized he was also telling me, “talent” and skill don’t mean anything outside of film school. It always comes back to who you know and who they know, every time. Relationships. Flush all those ideals down the toilet and buckle in for a hard ride.

When my thesis film was rejected by the school for a DGA (Directors Guild of America) screening, I was devastated. I thought my potential career was over before it started because I had nothing to show. But this same producing instructor came back and said, “This school is bullshit. And no one cares about what you did in film school.” he continued, “If you’re hungry for what you want, you’re not going to stop until you get there. Always stay hungry.”

And I have.

I am.

Film school challenged me in ways I never thought possible that made me a stronger person. It also gave me meaningful relationships with people I still keep in touch with to this day.

I’ve worked on major network shows and a lot of cable shows you’ve never heard of but they’ve all been fun and the people I’ve worked with through the years have been amazing in their own right.

I’m still here working in the industry and writing my stories because I’m still hungry.

I’m making this short film because I’m still hungry.

Who wants to eat with me?

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Production Blog #7: Our 1st Casting Session!

So a week or so ago we had our first casting session!

Casting Flyer
With over 300 submissions we managed to schedule 22 actors for parts in our film.

Twenty-two actors and actresses were invited to our small audition in Hollywood and, overall, we were pleased with the turn out and performances. I was, at first, nervous but then immediately excited to watch certain scenes from our story come to life. To me, it’s always surreal listening and watching something I wrote come to life.

We think we may have to do a follow up session (also known as “Call Backs”) to see certain actors along with some fresh potentials but I really can’t complain so far. We’re already prepping for the next round and I can’t wait to see who we get the next time around!

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