Video Creator
Chester Law
I'm a cameraman & editor who previously worked in NYC and is now living in Tokyo. In my previous career I worked in Silicon Valley.
Soon-to-be alumnus of the Kyoto Filmmakers Lab, sponsored by Toei Studios, Shochiku Studios, and the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).
Coming from an international background, I speak English, Japanese (N2), Cantonese, and Mandarin. I hope to leverage my international experience in a variety of markets to create videos that have universal appeal, something increasingly important in our ever growing global world.
As a filmmaker, I'm fascinated with the intersection of narrative and documentary filmmaking. Shooting documentary-style to get intimate and authentic moments, but taking that footage and editing it with cuts traditionally reserved for narrative and scripted cinema is my approach to achieve a heightened version of reality.
@annocinema Founder & Operator
Community building and crowdfunding success.
Hideaki Anno is my directorial inspiration. His 1997 anime "His and Her Circumstances" (彼氏彼女の事情) made a big impression on me and is the reason I became interested in filmmaking to begin with. Specifically it was the use of limited animation that made an impression, showing that the quality of a film was not in visual spectacle but refined choices. Choices in composition. Editing. I was awestruck by the work of a master.
To better understand Anno's directorial choices, I proceeded to begin dissecting Anno's visual compositions that made such an impact on me. (Indeed, Anno himself says that "As long as the camera angles are interesting, a movie can be made.") Wanting to keep my findings organized, I opted to post these analyses onto Instagram. (Example) Over time, people discovered my work and such grew into the following today.
I would eventually move on from dissecting Anno's compositions to pulling apart his editing choices, from general shot flow concepts to the specific timing of cuts. (Example) Doing so expanded my audience to editors in the community, and further grew my following.
Before I knew it, I had developed a name for myself, particularly in the West for being the go-to authority on Hideaki Anno's cinematic techniques and language. Being invited onto podcasts to discuss Anno's films and consulting on video essays became part of my routine. With my following I was also able to leverage the community to crowdfund English subtitles for many of Anno's Japanese interviews, letting people in the west have greater insight into the director. (Example) In total I had raised over $10,000 for subtitling various interview videos concerning Hideaki Anno.
In addition to raising money for subtitles, I also worked with the translators to push for clearer English translations. I spent a considerable amount of time mulling over the translations, as it's a balancing act between truthful translations and natural sounding ones. Timing the subtitles was another unsung-hero type job I did, as people don't notice if the subtitles are perfectly timed.
While I started out with predominantly western audience, since I started sharing content in Japanese, my following in Japan has increased and there's now about a 50-50 split in Japanese and Western followers.
Director's Reel
Dreams of an Everyman
While most of my earlier film work was informed by Japanese film grammar (telephoto lenses on locked off tripods, etc), inspired by the films of Terrence Malick, I decided to try something new for my next film.
Taking the camera off the tripod allowed me to be more reactive to whatever was going on, which proved effective in a documentary setting.
"Dreams of an Everyman" is not a documentary in the traditional sense in that it doesn't rely on interviews to drive the narrative. Instead, it uses moments and events to build the narrative, much like a traditional scripted film would.
Key Yoga Promotional Video
Key Yoga is a yoga studio in Tokyo, with its main branch at the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku and subsidiary branches throughout metropolitan Tokyo.
I was hired to create an abstract promotional video that starred one of their instructors. The goal was to present the idea of yoga in the busy city. To show that we can still find a place of calm in the midst of all this business.
Planning: 6/20/2021
Production: 6/23/2021
Shipped: 7/7/2021
Pynk Gorilla Studios
Shot in New York City, this short film was pivotal in my discovery of how to bring together documentary and narrative filmmaking. Shooting what can only be described as documentary footage but repurposing it for a more cinematically edited piece resulted in "Pynk Gorilla Studios."
At a film festival’s request, I edited a trailer for the film a year after the actual film was finished. Thus the editing style of the trailer is notably different from the film, reflecting my growth as a filmmaker.
The film has since won awards at multiple international film festivals.
Beth Hunt × Naoki Kato
After meeting Beth Hunt, I pitched her the idea of doing a cinematic video of her modeling activities.
The resulting video you see here is a collaboration between Beth, the photographer Naoki Kato, and yours truly.
It was an honor to be able to jump on the first collaboration between these two creatives, and present a cinematic work that commemorated their first meeting.
I employed a handheld camera with organic moves for this project, because unlike tripods and gimbals, going handheld allowed me to quickly adapt to the unpredictable movements of my subjects.
Tokyo Typhoon
When I was switching Airbnb's in Tokyo, it just happened to the day of a terrible typhoon. With nothing to do between the check-out time of one and the check-in time of the next, I filmed shots that were decidedly Japanese. Locked off telephoto shots, paired with elements of Japanese urban aesthetic combine to create this short film.
I have a relationship with aspect ratio that's characterized by "the grass is greener on the other side." When I shoot too much widescreen, I want to shoot 4:3, and the other way around. It's a pendulum that keeps swinging.
Hair Salon Vlog with Miyu
The recent phenomenon of the vlog is fascinating. It's an organic permutation of documentary filmmaking, with an incredible knack for capturing authentic moments. Vlogs bring me back to my original fascination with film - Anno's ability to show the mundane and commonplace in a stunning way.
Considering the subjects here were not used to cameras around them, I opted to shoot with the smaller Sony a6500. It succeeded in capturing natural "performances," which is the high order bit of vlogs, as opposed to image quality.
ManCave Show Season 3
Season 3 was the long-awaited return of MCS: ManCave Show, a radio show based in New York City. Host Damien Christopher is a Hollywood insider, frequently joining in on red carpet events and given exclusive access to celebrities for his content.
After Damien discovered my films, I was brought on to revamp the visual style of the show, to bring to it my aesthetic.
I approach filmmaking as an engineering craft. To me it's about finding the appropriate methods for the emotional resonance you're looking for.
So whether it was early on when I was obsessed with figuring out the mathematical proportions of a great composition, or later on when I dissected the films of Kihachi Okamoto to find out the number of black frames he would insert before titles (either 1 or 2, depending on whether another title preceded it. I would later find out that Hideaki Anno himself did the exact same investigation 20 years earlier than me), or when I dissected the audio and visual editing choices of the first episode of Evangelion shot by shot, I was always a very methodical and detail oriented person. I just had an instinctive feeling that you can't just do a naive implementation and expect it to work out quite as well as what you want to copy.
Let's connect!