Our worldwide video crews are topnotch. We know because we personally vet each one before adding them to our online database of international crews. Not only are they the cream of the crop in their trades, but according to our clients, they are also just plain delightful to work with. This month’s featured crew is Urban Samurai Creative and we interviewed Yuki Uemura, the company’s founder and principal. One of Uemura’s standout traits is that his business and marketing backgrounds complement his mad skills behind the camera.
We love working with Yuki Uemura for the same reasons our clients do. He is incredibly talented, genuinely gregarious, and a superbly hard worker who is always willing to go that extra mile. He also has tons of resources to make the best possible projects. Most importantly: Clients really love working with him.
Crew Connection: What’s your story?
Yuki Uemura: I wanted to do film in school but my parents wouldn’t pay for my education that way so I ended up with a business marketing degree. Interestingly enough, it’s served me well in my film pursuits as well (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
When I was about to graduate, I applied for a marketing internship but something got mixed up and I ended up in the creative department. I told my boss that even though I didn’t know anything about camera or audio, I could connect the creative side to the business side so they could get more sales. It was around 2007—just as the market was going downhill—so they were interested. My boss told me to learn the camera by the end of the day and the editing software they used (AVID) by the end of the week. So I reviewed the manual for the camera and shadowed the editor for the rest of the week. By the end of that time, my boss said I was basically in the same place as the other graduates. And with that, my career in the industry began.
I joined Hammertime (an MC Hammer reality show) as a PA but when the DP saw me doing camera stuff, he switched me to AC the very next day. From there, I went to grip, then to audio, and then to camera. I spent four years traveling across the country (all 50 states!) and working in various jobs (like DP and audio supervisor) with NatGeo, Travel Channel, CBS, Oxygen, Anthony Bourdain, Katie Couric, and so many more.
My heart is in the San Francisco Bay area though, so in 2013, I started marketing, meeting people, and getting local jobs. Now I work with some of the major companies in the area—Facebook, Google, Apple, Intuit, etc.
CC: What sets you apart?
YU: So this is where that business marketing degree comes in handy. I learned to talk to people on the business side as well as the broadcasting side of things and I learned to bring a story to life. My marketing experience gave me an understanding for branding that I take into all my jobs. Some DPs only care about how good the footage looks, but if your audience can’t connect with what they’re seeing, what does it matter how beautiful it is? I ask clients what they want to translate to the audience and then do my best to capture that in the filming, too.
In addition to branding, I focus on customer service. For example, I once showed up on a set in the San Francisco Bay area to work and within the first two hours, they said, “What are you doing tomorrow? Could you go to Utah for three days?”
I said yes. We wrapped at 10:00 that night and I went home, packed up, and left for the airport at 5:00 the next morning. I’ll do my best to do whatever a client needs.
As part of both branding and customer service, I focus on communicating with all my clients in advance to get as much info as possible. I believe that pre-production is a very important part of doing a job well. It helps us to understand the vision our client is going for so we can all be on the same page and achieve great video.
CC: What are you most proud of?
YU: Working as a audio supervisor on Anthony Bourdain’s show was a highlight because I watch the show all the time.
I’m also proud of the work we do with Intuit on short, cinematic documentaries on small business stories. They brought me in as DP, audio mixer, gaffer, and grip. We followed a music composer and a painter as a part of their #MorePower2You campaign. It’s been fun.
CC: What gear do you use most often?
YU: I shoot with the Sony FS7, Canon C300, Sony F5, F55, Black Magic as well as the old broadcast cameras like the Sony F900 and the 5D MK II. That last one is a dinosaur that some people still want to use because they like the style (and budget!).
CC: What are some of your favorite tools and why?
YU: I like to use a dana dolly because it creates the slow movement combined with slow motion that is so popular right now. I think slow movements help bring the story to life rather than distracting like quick movements sometimes can. This slider allows very slow push-ins and sliding motions to get people into the scene. It creates a unique mood, which is especially nice for documentaries.
I feel audio is very important. If you can’t hear it, you can’t tell the story. I use a Sound Device 788t, Lectrosonic SMQV and 411s, Sanken COS 11 Lav, and Sanken CS3E boom. It may seem weird coming from a DP, but we make sure on every shoot that audio is pristine. Early in my career, an Executive Producer told me, “When your camera work is screwed up, people say it’s artistic. When you can’t hear the audio, you don’t have a show.”
The bottom line
Yuki Uemura is a class act and has the experience, customer loyalty, and awards to show for it. Click here to book Yuki Uemura for your next video production project.
Yuki Uemura, DP (and more):
Click to learn more about Yuki Uemura and Urban Samurai Creative.
About Crew Connection
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