Hamish Downie’s Five Questions with Adrian Storey aka Uchujin
Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…
Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
TGG: Today I get to introduce you to one of the people I got to know while part of the filmmaking community in Tokyo. Without further ado… could you introduce yourself to our readers?
AS: Hi, My name is Adrian Storey, I’m an English, Self shooting director, documentary camera operator and D.O.P. and I dabble in motion graphics.
I’ve travelled and lived all over the world since my mid 20’s and had a slightly silly working career ranging from fashion modelling to a stint as the Dali Lama’s sound engineer!
I’m currently based in Cambridge in the UK, where I live with my wife.
I mostly make work under the moniker “Uchujin” which means ‘Alien’ in Japanese, which started due to a mispronunciation of my name “Adrian”.
TGG: I actually never knew where you got your name from. So, I have to ask the $64,000 question – what brought you to Japan? And what’s it like to be a creative person in Japan?
AS: Marriage is what brought me and what had me stay for 10 years. I left in 2016. I don’t have very much nice to say about those 10 years in Japan, so moving on to the second half of your question……
I think there are two sides to being a creative person in Japan, on the one hand it felt like sometimes it was easier to get opportunities as I was still viewed as a little “exotic” especially as I look a bit weird (tattoo, piercings, long hair etc) also I got a lot of work while I was there from foreign clients who needed someone they could interact with in English but who could speak enough Japanese to get things done.
There are also huge advantages to being able to take a train to Shinjuku or Akihabara and buy pretty much any piece of equipment or supplies you need.
The flip side of that is the tendency of some Japanese production companies, Directors etc to only want to work with Japanese staff.
Then there’s the minefield that is the Japanese language!, I once lost a big job because in a meeting with the clients, 2 Japanese guys and the Art director, a Japanese speaking, Australian who was a good friend of mine, I used a slightly unflattering word for “You” (Omae) when referring to him, mostly as a joke between us, and I lost the job because the clients thought I was rude.
TGG: Gosh, I’ve stepped on a few cultural landmines in my day. But, you have achieved so much here as well. Could you tell us about your latest feature doc, “Traces of the soul”?
AS: It was my second feature doc shot in Japan. The first one I shot was the multi award winning “Boys For Sale” www.boysforsale.com
My second feature doc was my first working with Martin Cooper, an English Director who I’d never met and who directed me from the UK over Skype for the Japan sections of the film.
Initially the Director, Martin, had contacted me asking me to shoot one interview with a calligrapher in Gifu, but very quickly our relationship evolved and I became the DOP for the rest of the shoot (including a number of shoots when I returned to the UK), a co-producer and I did the opening title sequence and all the motion graphics in the film.
The other camera operators on the film Giorgio Bosislo, Francis Hanly, Eric Jason Hall, Mehdi Khmili and Gunji Masato all deserve a mention for their fantastic work too.
Martin put together an amazing list of contemporary calligraphers for the film and his 20 plus years experience as an editor for British television is evident in the masterful way the film is edited.
The film has screened at a number of international film festivals and won 2 best documentary awards as well as the “most beautiful documentary” award at the Master Of Art film festival in Bulgaria in 2019.
“Traces Of The Soul” Official Trailer from Uchujin on Vimeo.
The film is available for on demand screening in Japan under the Japanese title “魂の軌跡” at asiandocs.co.jp (https://asiandocs.co.jp/set/278/con/273?from_category_id=1) and there are ongoing distribution discussions for other territories which we hope will make the film available to a large international audience.
TGG: I can’t wait to check them both out. What have you got planned for the future?
AS: I just started work on my first feature doc as a Self Shooting Director about a famous 90’s rock photographer here in the UK. It’s exciting and a little intimidating because even though I’ve shot/directed a number of shorts a feature is a totally different ball game in terms of organisation, planning etc. I’m excited about how its going and even more excited about some of the interviews I have planned for it!
I’m also involved in pre-production on Martin Cooper’s next film, another documentary, again art based but beyond that I can’t say much.
TGG: We are definitely looking forward to your next project! How can we best support you (follow you on social media, hire you, buy your stuff)?
AS: The best way is to consider hiring me if you think I would be a good fit for any of your projects. Following me on social media and checking out my blog would be great too.
As film makers we hope people will watch our stuff so most importantly if you watch something I’ve done or been involved in and you liked it, leave a comment and please share it to your networks.
I don’t have anything for you to buy as such, maybe I should make some Uchujin t-shirts and mugs? 🙂
my site: www.uchujin.co.uk
traces of the soul : www.tracesofthesoul.com
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